Though teaching life and physical sciences takes up a good chunk of her time, South Heart teacher Lindsey Delvo is a competitive distance runner who was long ago inspired by her father. Recently, Delvo competed in the Boston Marathon, finishing amongst the top fourth of all classes and top 10th percentile of women in her age group. For Delvo, this race has been a journey that has spanned more than three years.
Delvo qualified for the Boston Marathon by running the 2018 Bismarck Marathon in under 3 hours, 30 minutes. She was slated to run in Boston in April of 2020, but the race was ultimately canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the race was delayed from it’s normal time in April to Oct. 11. The number of in-person runners was cut by 40% from the usual 30,000 down to 18,000. Delvo was allowed to use her 2018 qualifying time to make the 2021 race.
“This year was a lot harder to get in than previous years, so I was really excited when I found out that I was accepted and was able to run this race,” Delvo said.
Organizers did not did not want participants traditionally running together in one large wave this time because of the potential transmission risk of COVID-19, so runners were bussed to the start in staggered intervals and their progress was recorded digitally with clip-on tracking chips.
“It was kind of strange. It didn’t feel like your traditional race that you would normally run. It was hard to know how well you were doing too, in comparison to other people because some people who are faster than you may have started behind you and caught up,” she said. “But overall, it was a really cool experience.”
Delvo said she was touched by the level of support she received from South Heart Public School.
“Our school is kind of like a family. So I was even getting pictures from one of the parents from my different classes, the kids drew signs. She sent me pictures while I was running and I had my phone so I got to see a lot of those signs and cheers from the kids,” she said, adding, “They were tracking me throughout the day and making announcements over the intercom.”
Upon her return to South Heart, Delvo noted that she was overcome with emotion.
“It was really special… when I came back, just all the welcoming and congrats from everybody was really cool,” she said. “So I just wanted to mention how great our school is as a whole.”
Delvo's husband Ethan, who is a junior high and high school history teacher at Hope Christian Academy in Dickinson, biked alongside her as she ran, encouraging her and periodically handing her gel packets full of caffeine and sugar when she needed a boost of energy.
Finishing in the top fourth of all classes and in the top tenth percentile of women in her age group, Delvo described the feeling of crossing the finish line as surreal.
“It was just kind of overall relief. I almost felt like I was in a dream, like it was too good to be true. Just coming that far, and all the training that went into it. It took a lot of late nights and early mornings,” she said. “My husband biked alongside me for most of my runs.”
Originally from Minnesota, Delvo’s passion for distance running began at a young age and was inspired by her father.
“My dad, he was a runner and I remember him training for his first marathon. And that’s actually when I first started getting into running when he was training for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. And I would beg him to let me run and train with him. But for someone in like fourth or fifth grade running that far was kind of a lot. So he would do a warm-up loop of about a mile and I would run with him,” she said.
After competing in a few youth races Delvo joined her middle school cross country team in sixth grade, and was invited to join the varsity cross country team as a seventh grader at Anoka High School, where she graduated in 2014. During high school she also competed in track and cross country skiing.
“I was actually better at skiing than I was at running,” she said. “But there’s not a lot of college teams in the Midwest that do cross country skiing.”
Delvo went on to compete in track and cross country at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., where she pursued her college education. She said she had run some half marathons, and always wanted to run a full one but was encouraged to wait until after college due to knee pain.
She said the Bismarck Marathon was tough.
“I didn’t really know how to run a marathon or what pace I needed to run. I started out really fast at a 6:55 pace, which is really fast for someone like me… and ended up like dying in the last four miles,” she said. “So I thought to myself, I’m never going to run one again. But after I found out I qualified and thought about how cool of an opportunity it would be to run in the Boston Marathon, I decided that I was going to run another one.”
In her second year of teaching, Delvo is still fairly new to the school and southwestern North Dakota. In her initial interview with South Heart Public School, Delvo asked school staff if there was a cross country team. Though there was not a team in place at time besides the partnership with Dickinson High School, South Heart Public School was willing to look into it as a future option upon the hire of Delvo.
“So it was something I was thinking about right away just because that was really important to me," Delvo said. "And I was hoping that even if I wasn’t coaching I would still love to volunteer or do anything I could to help in that area because it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed.”
Delvo said before 2021, South Heart students who wanted to run cross country had to join the DHS team, which proved to be unrealistic for some athletes due to the distance. Delvo had done distance running with some of Heart River’s track athletes, who told her they would join a cross country team if one was formed.
So she approached Superintendent Calvin Dean, who helped her get a Cougars cross country team formally organized and approved by the school board. South Heart belongs to the Heart River Cougars, which is an athletic cooperative that also includes Billings County and Belfield Public Schools.
Delvo teaches science to South Heart’s seventh graders, freshmen and sophomores. Life sciences include introductory biology concepts whereas physical science pertains mostly to the mathematical aspects of physics with some chemistry.