Ainsley’s Angels are on a mission…
Ainsley’s Angels are on a mission…
…and Go! Running is proud to support and partner with them! Ainsley’s Angels gives children and adults with special needs the opportunity to run races across the country. Their main mission is to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life – to bring joy and acceptance.
The Little Rock Marathon Debut!
Currently in 30 states and 60 cities, they are brand new to Little Rock, and we need your help to officially welcome them to our community during the Little Rock Marathon this weekend. They are bringing 24 Angel Runners and 6 Athlete Riders to participate in this year’s race. We couldn’t be more excited that they are here and joining us for this beautiful event. And, we are sure that their spirit will make race day even better. Our own Meghan Lewis will be joining them as an angel runner! So cheer them on!
When Jarrett Banks came in our store, we knew this was meant to be. Some of you participated in a recent Thursday night run where we ran with one of our Athlete Riders and learned more about the program starting up here in Central Arkansas. So we asked Jarrett to share a little more about this life changing organization:
How does a race with Ainsley’s Angels work?
We pair Angel Runners with Athlete Riders (children and adults with developmental disabilities) in endurance events. Two to three runners are assigned to a racing chariot before each race. The Athlete Riders “Roll with the Wind” in life and in endurance events. We like to say that the rider in that chariot “pulls” us through the race and across the finish line! Anyone with a disability that prevents them from racing on their own may participate as an Athlete Rider.
What is the experience like for the Angel Runner?
Being an Angel Runner is the best running experience you will ever have. These athlete riders are gracious enough to be including you in their life, which is a really special thing. You learn things you have never even though about, like what it’s like to live with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or MS. That’s a powerful thing. And, the sense of fulfillment you get giving someone else the joy of finishing a marathon. Someone who thought they could never ever be in a race. It’s life changing.
What is the experience like for the Athlete Rider?
For the athlete rider, they are just like any other runner in the race. They register just like everyone else, get a t-shirt, go to packet pickup, get a medal. And they love getting to finish before the other runners. The athlete rider is the core of the team and pushes the team across the finish line with smiles, cheers and immeasurable inspirational spirit. We will be going to the expo, too… and we will be doing that this year, too. Stopping in to hang out with Go! Running for sure and other friends. We will have a booth there, too. So come see us!!
What is your favorite part about being an Ambassador?
The kids just smile and laugh, and the joy of the people that we push in each race. The first person I pushed was 48 years old. He said, “Jarrett Banks, I just never thought I could do anything like this and run in a race.” Just the joy they get feeling able bodied. For once, they don’t feel different. Before I did this, I always assumed that people with disabilities didn’t think about doing a race. But they really do! I hear them say they have friends who run, or they have always wanted to run a marathon.
How much does it cost for the participants?
Registration is free and provides each Athlete Rider with insurance during our events. Angel Runners will only be asked to make a small donation to cover the cost of the Ainsley’s Angels Tech Shirt to wear during our races ($25).
What made you choose the Little Rock Marathon?
We don’t actually choose races; we have to be invited to each one. We currently have a chapter in Northwest Arkansas and wanted to expand to Central Arkansas. I was doing the route 66 half marathon in Tulsa and I just happened to have a booth at the expo. Here I met Gina and Geneva (LRM chicks in charge). We visited and they invited us to come to the 2018 LRM. Since we have to be invited to any race we attend, we were all really excited about a chance to run the Little Rock Marathon. We’ve done 7 races in Western Arkansas (the first in September). Our first half was on February 11th – the Fort Smith half marathon. So this is our second half marathon to include people with disabilities.
What can I do to help or get involved? Go! fundraising for a chair this year.
We are currently looking for a Central Arkansas Ambassador who would help coordinate races, runners, and riders. Or, any volunteer who is great at fundraising or grant writing. We are also working on raising money for new equipment. Riders and runners don’t have to spend money to come to a race because we pay for everything. We need a few new chairs and a trailer to haul everything to each race. These special rolling chairs and cost $1,000. We raise money, donation by donation, or sometimes a company buys a chair and they get their logo on the side for every race. You can be a “Guardian Angel” and donate to Ainsley’s Angels through their website. Since our organization is 100% volunteer based, 95% of the donations stay right here in Arkansas and go directly to fund Riders and Runners in each race.
** Go! Running will be putting on a fundraising event to raise $$
for an Athlete running chair in the near future. So be on the look out!
Do you think you have what it takes to be an angel runner or an athlete rider? Ainsley’s Angels is currently recruiting angel runners of all paces as well as riders. Register at http://ainsleysangels.org.
Running Through the Community: The Little Rock Marathon
It could be a new trail, a dog park, a kid’s playground, or maybe even helping to find a cure. And when you lace up those shoes and enter that race, you may be having a much bigger positive impact on your community… simply by running a race. We wanted to share some of those impacts – a few you may not expect! So over the next year, you’ll be introduced a little of the “back story” on some pretty familiar races.
So set a goal, Sign up for a race. And look at our community soar.
Since the Little Rock Marathon is right around the corner, we caught up with one of the Chicks in Charge – Gina Marchese, and she had some fun things to share! Read on… and don’t forget to join in the race on March 3rd and 4th!
Photo Credit: Little Rock Marathon
The Little Rock Marathon benefits Little Rock Parks, but what does that mean exactly for our running and walking community?
The Little Rock Marathon produced our first race in May 2003, and has contributed over 1 million dollars into our parks system, helped build an amazing, growing running community through free training, and annually provides about a 5 million dollar economic impact on Central Arkansas. Whew. So Thank you for running!!
Tell us about one of your favorite projects that has made a difference for the running community.
A little know face, is that we were part of the original group of communities that starting Global Running day in connection with New York Road Runners. It began as ‘National Running Day’ and then it caught on globally. We love being part of this and proud Go! Running is there, too.
The LRM Medal is famous… Tell us how it all began!
We started off with a standard size medal. Geneva and I ran another race in Texas and Geneva did the marathon and I did the half marathon. We got the same medal except for the wording, and we both looked at each other and said, “we can’t let that happen at our race.” So we got on the phone and changed our medals the very next day. We chose to GO BIG in Little Rock. As the years went on, (Geneva designs our medal and I am her focus group), we just kept enlarging the size to where we now have the distinction of having the largest finisher’s medal (that we know of). Runners World endorsed it. Thank you Bart Yasso!
Adding the LIPS!
At our 10th year, we added lips! I have a lip fetish, all kinds of lip stuff, so Geneva put it on the medal and we cracked up and have stuck with it ever since. We call it our race director’s kiss to all our finishers!
When did you decide to do a Medal Unveiling?
Oh, the early days of YouTube. We decided to unveil our medal and have a little fun with it, so we decided to do the unveiling at a press conference. The very day of first unveiling, Little Rock had an ice storm and the city was in lock down – so NO press conference, of course! But Geneva and I made it to the office and were determine to do something so we did a video on our phones, Kevin Clay (our video guru) uploaded it to YouTube, our video went viral and the rest is history as we say! We now do everything on social media. We say we put the FUN back into the medals. Now people run for the medals and we love that and do just the same. This year’s is lots of fun… and sealed with a kiss. Wishing you all the best of luck and lots of fun along the way. Come join us.
Getting to Know Team Red White and Blue
We all know someone who has served. Or is serving this great country! Thank you. THANK YOU. We celebrate veterans for their love of our country and willingness to sacrifice for their fellow Americans. If you want to support your running veterans – consider getting to know Team Red White and Blue! Ultimately, the aim of Team RWB’s community-building program is to bring veterans together with civilian citizens in a way that enables them to establish authentic friendships.
Go! Running loves supporting this amazing group. What a better time to hear from a few of these wonderful runners.
Lisa Palicki Webb, a runner for Team Red White and Blue, shares us her love of camaraderie. “My favorite thing about Team RWB is the unconditional camaraderie and team spirit that the Eagle provokes. We can be anywhere at any time, and when someone sees the Eagle, there are words of encouragement and shout outs to kindred spirits. It’s a warm, proud feeling of belonging to a group with a beneficial purpose.” She also added. “My favorite thing about working with veterans is being close to those who have served and made a difference for our country. It gives me comfort to somehow be a part of their nurturing and growth outside of the service. My husband is retired Air Force. He served 24 years, so I have a special bond with the military community.”
Everyone is welcome to be a part of Team Red White and Blue, from civilians, to active military, to veterans. This is what drew Lisa Gunnoe to Team Red White and Blue. She said, “Team RWB encourages not only inclusive membership, but also inclusive leadership. Anyone can become a leader in Team RWB and Team RWB will help that leader grow in essential leadership qualities which help that leader not only in their volunteer role in Team RWB but also in their home life, church, community, any interaction with another person. All of these relationships can become improved with the leadership qualities available to learn through Team RWB volunteer leadership. Team RWB is a hands-on organization. Awareness is good, but then what? Team RWB answers that question by being where the veterans are and encouraging them to make connections in their communities through physical fitness and social activities. Lets roll our sleeves up and get to work along side our veterans to enrich all lives.”
Since US veterans are some of the most highly trained in the world, they have skills worth emulating. Lisa is honored to be able to work with veterans. She goes on to say, “Our veterans are humble. Most often when you thank a veteran for their service they don’t see themselves as heroes and they are a bit uncomfortable with the attention. Veterans have so much to teach us. In the way Team RWB is structured those veterans are given the opportunity to teach those lessons.”
Thank you to our veterans and Team RWB. Want to join the “eagles?” It’s free to join and there are no fundraising requirements. You just have to show up! www.teamrwb.org
Be Safe, Be Seen, and Brighten up the Night
The weather is getting cooler, which means Fall is upon us and it’s just the best time of year to get out and run. THIS SUNDAY November 5th is the daylight savings time change… – “Fall Back”. That means it will get darker earlier in the evening and will still be dark in the morning, too! As runners, we need to be thinking about Fall Safety. Our motto year ‘round, but especially for fall is ‘Be Safe & Be Seen’. And, there are an array of things you can do. Outside of wearing reflective gear (shoes and apparel), you can find other sources to help you “light up the night”. Headlamps and other lights and true reflective night apparel (vests/shirts) are truly a must. Drivers are more distracted than ever – so protect yourself!
All week long at the store we will have “Light Up” specials – up to 20% off your favorite “be safe/be seen” products.
It’s a Challenge. It’s a family friendly race. The Spa Running Festival – November 18th.
There are many races that we have opportunities to run in our region. But you should really look at the Spa Running Festival. No doubt you’ve heard about it. It’s growing. Did you know that it was recognized by Runner’s World Magazine as one of the ‘top races to run’ in a national park. Ok that’s pretty cool. And it’s right in our back yard. Supporting our neighbors and a few very worthy organizations, too (see below for more on charities).
And it has a special history for Go!’s chief running officer, Gary Taylor. ”The SPA Running Festival is a wonderful event,” he noted, “but for me it holds a special place in my heart because it was the first road race I ran in America, 35 years ago in 1982. I was a redshirt freshman at U of A and John McDonnell thought I needed a good race, so he sent me off to run the Spa 10K. Back then it started near the old Cinema and ended at The Arlington. I have vivid memories of finishing the race along Central Ave looking at the bathhouses. Over the years, it’s been great to watch the race evolve into the amazing festival it is today.”
Run Where Legends have gone before you!
The Spa Running Festival has grown into a key running festival in the South, attracting runners from several states with a 5k, 10k, or half marathon. When you run the 10K or half marathon, you will be running down the same streets where legends such as Babe Ruth, President Roosevelt, and Bugsy Malone. “This will be the 36th year for the Spa 10K and 5K race,” said Cindy Baswell, race director. “When we added the Half Marathon in 2015, we rebranded the race name to Spa Running Festival as it now offered an event for everyone from the kids, to beginners and those that like a challenge running West Mountain with the 10K and half marathon.” Cindy said adding the Summit² Challenge Half Marathon provides additional excitement, “and gives us more exposure, as we are attract runners from all over the United States. It’s wonderful that they get to see what the Spa City has to offer with the National Park, historic bathhouse row and the thermal hot springs water. It’s a great weekend getaway.” The 2017 race is fast approaching. Cindy shared with us some new festival attractions. “We have some new features this year with the addition of the Expo on Friday, a new flat and fast 5k course, 10K finishers medals and 5K finishers commemorative awards – so we keep making enhancements that makes it a great race experience for the race participants. I love that the race is the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so it’s a beautiful time of the year with the fall foliage and running through West Mountain. I invite all runners to ‘Come Run With Us’.”
November 18, 2017 we are back with the flat and fast redesigned 5k, the Southern Region Championship 10k, and the Summit² Challenge Half Marathon. Get in so you don't get left out! Hot Springs, National Park, AR www.sparunningfestival.com Thanks to our great sponsors who make it all possible : Window Mart Murphy USA Adrianne Kahn Fine Jewelry and Design Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Allen Tillery Chevrolet Buick Pontiac GMC Kurt Hauser Plastics Mountain Valley Spring Water Lauray's The Diamond Center Rev'd Up Ink CHI St. Vincent Tim Poole Dennis Berry
Posted by Spa Running Festival on Tuesday, August 15, 2017
There’s still time to Register (but many races are selling out fast): http://sparunningfestival.com
Benefitting Local Charities
The festival is run 100% by volunteers, which means the race entry fee goes directly back to the community. The festival supports three worthwhile organizations:
- Teen Challenge of Arkansas is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to biblically educate men 18 and older with life-controlling problems. This is accomplished through educational programs that are biblically sound and highly structured. http://www.teenchallengear.org/
- The Friends of the Parks is a non-profit organization dedicated to development and stewardship of Hot Springs area public parks Individual and Corporate partnerships are available for projects identified in the Hot Springs Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan. The master plan is a comprehensive guide for future park, recreation and open space development. http://www.hsfriendsoftheparks.org/
- Proceeds from the Festival also fund numerous Buzz Wilson scholarships awarded to local high school seniors involved in the sport of running and/or fitness and who exemplify the principles identified in the Spa Pacer’s mission statement.
Expo: Friday from 3-5pm.
The Spa Running Festival Race Expo will take place at Hotel Hot Springs & Spa, 305 Malvern Avenue (Malvern Avenue at Convention Blvd). Admission to the Expo is free and it is open to the general public.
Go! Running will be at this year’s expo. Come see us and join in this popular running festival. We are so proud to be a sponsor and love being part of its history. Pack up the family and come see us in Hot Springs!
The “real” Arkansas Traveller – all 100 miles of it.
It’s dark in the Ouachita forest in the middle of the night, but the evening shines pretty brightly for more than 160 ultra runners who came from around the county to navigate their way through one of the oldest 100-mile races, the Traveller. Lou Payton, the first female to ever do the grand slam, founded the race with her husband Charley in 1991. Chrissy Ferguson, who directed the race for the past 15 years – and will be running her 20th Traveller this year – said, “The best thing about the Traveller are the aid stations and volunteers. In Ultra Running Magazine, it was voted to have both the best volunteers and aid stations of any other 100 miler. My favorite part of the race is running over Smith Mountain on the return, about 71/72 miles into the race. I’ve picked up my pacer and it’s so dark on top of the mountain if you turn your flashlight off you can see a billion stars. When you shine your light in the mowed grass, you can see the twinkle of spider eyes as you run.”
Photo Credit: RunArkansas.com
The Traveller is one of the Western State’s qualifiers, the grandfather of 100’s and one of the oldest 100-mile races. If you want to test your ultra running skills, the Travellers is a great race to start with and you are guaranteed to be challenged from beginning to end. Many runners enjoy this race so much, they come back to the AT100 year after year. The scenery of the Ouachita Forest is beautiful and the volunteer support at the aid stations is a lifesaver. They encourage you, give you a shoulder to lean on or to help stretch out tired legs and feed your belly as well as your spirit. When you see an aide station up ahead, seeing the laser lights and the disco balls is almost like seeing a shining beacon of hope. Stacey Shaver, an AURA ultra runner who just this March completed her 100th ultra distance race shared, “The volunteers are what makes the Traveller so unique. Every time I race out of state, I’m quickly reminded of how spoiled we are with AURA. There are aid stations every 4 to 5 miles where you could go 8 to 10 elsewhere. I can’t imagine the effort it takes to gather and coordinate that many volunteers. Not only the abundance of aid stations but it’s also the people who offer up their time are so special. They ALL go out of their way to ensure we are well cared for. Many would literally give you the shirt off their back. I think this alone gives the race a magical feel to it, which is why so many keep going back to it, including myself.”
Photo Credit: Arkansas Outside
The race starts THIS SATURDAY MORNING and continues in to Sunday morning. The Central Arkansas Radio Emergency Network tracks the runners live and the Williams Junction Fire Department is always close by for any runners who are in distress. We also couldn’t do the race without the pacers. Stacey loves sharing miles with her pacers and says it’s uplifting to be able to run beside a friend and talk; it makes the miles go by fast. Join us along with the family and friends of AT100 and AURA runners to celebrate and cheer them on ever step of the way.