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
‘Walk a Mile in Their Shoes’ – Shoe donation drive the month of September
Give Your Running Shoes New Life
The fall weather is on the way, school has started and with that, we begin to look in our closest to pull the warmer gear forward. And right in front of you are a line of running shoes on the floor. Wondering what to do with your old used running shoes? Donate them. Bag up your running shoes and bring them to us!
Since we opened our doors in 2010, Go! Running has been recycling running shoes to those in need. We collect them every day of the year, but each year, we bring attention to the need to help others with ’A Mile in Their Shoes’,” which is an annual month-long running/walking shoe donation drive, inspired by the understanding that even if you’ve run the last mile in a pair of running shoes, these shoes still have a long life and can go to someone in need to live out the rest of their miles.
Special Thanks to the gals who got it all started: Mary Wells and Sarah Olney –
We have to give special thanks to two amazing Little Rock Road Runners, Mary Wells and Sarah Olney, who started recycling running shoes in their garage to help others. They shared their passion, time and community need, and when we opened our doors, we offered to help. What started out as a drop off location has turned into a daily community-giving program. Today, we give to as many groups in need as possible: Our House, CASA, The Van, Homeless Shelters and other charities contact us when they are in need.
Help a Child – NEED Kid’s shoes.
The shoes we need the most are kids shoes. Over 13 million children are living in poverty in America and don’t have access to new clothes or shoes to go back to school. And there are many kids in our area who need help. So instead of throwing those shoes away or putting them in a yard sale, donate them to a great cause. It could make a child’s day! We believe in helping others, and the shoe drive is one way we can do that. Let’s help others in need in our community. We can’t fill this need without you!
Running Shoe Recycling and Donation Drive
What: “A Mile in Their Shoes”
When: All September
Where: Go! Running, 1819 N Grant St, Little Rock
Go! Running with Meghan Lewis
If you are a part of the Little Rock running community, or have been to one of our Thursday night runs or Sunday trail runs, you have probably met Meghan Lewis. As soon as we met Meghan back in 2010, we knew we had to hire her to be on the Go! Team. Now she is the Manager of our little community running store and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We sat down with Meghan to ask her about her life in Little Rock and at Go!
Why did you start running?
I started running when I was 25. I grew up doing all sorts of outdoors activities with my family so being outside running just seems natural for me. And, at the time, it was a great way to take my mind off of things and de-stress. I really fell in love with running a couple of years later when I started trail running. I love hanging out in the woods, so running the trails is even better.
What brought you to Little Rock?
Before I came to Little Rock, I had just found out I was pregnant. My husband Nick and I were living in Oregon at the time, but we wanted to move to be a little closer to family in Memphis. A friend of Nick’s worked at a cycling company here in town and had a job available, so we chose Little Rock.
Tell us a little about running Go! Running (pun intended!)
When we moved to Little Rock, I knew I wanted to get a job at one of the running stores since I love to run. I heard about Go!, so I took my resume in and Erin called me that night to set up an interview. When I met Erin and Gary, we instantly clicked and I fell in love with them and the store. So I got the job! Gary and Erin are one of my favorite things about working at Go! And, I just love sharing running with other people in our community. I love my job.
How did you meet your husband?
We actually met through running! I was going to the University of Memphis getting my Bachelors in Fine Arts and met Nick through trail running. Our first date was a midnight run and then we went camping. Now, we have a 6 year old daughter, Nour.
What do you and your family like to do together?
We are an outdoorsy family. We run together and like going camping, going out for walks, hiking, canoeing, going to the trails, kayaking, or just anything outdoors. Nour and I also like to take photographs, garden, and paint together too.
What was your best run ever?
I truly do love running and I like to run whenever I get the time. In the heat, the snow, whenever! Every race is a different experience and a great way to explore different parts of the country.
What do you love MOST about running?
I don’t know how to describe it. Running began as something that was just mine, just for me, and a way to get away, decompress and de-stress. Running is just a part of me and who I am.
If you would like to meet Meghan, we invite you to stop by the store to chat with her. We welcome runners and walkers from all paces and walks of life. Come and be part of our running/walking community. Remember, every run begins with Go!
Go! Running with Michael Harmon
As we celebrate our 7th Anniversary, we took a look back at some of the people who have been with us from Day 1. One of those true “been there from the start” friends was Michael. I look back and can see his smiling, cheeky self popping up at our grand opening, and on our original weekly run (Tuesday for a short period of time), at packet picks ups and special events. And before we knew it, we were hooked and had to get to know him better. He quickly went from ‘Customer’ to ‘Customer Service’, working for us part time and joining in full steam ahead with the Go! Family. If you’ve been to one of our weekly “Thursday” runs, or any Grand Prix race, you’ve probably met Michael. He’s an attorney by trade and a runner at heart. What has always amazed me about Michael, is that he is truly liked by everyone. Just speak to any trail runner, marathon maniac, road runner warrior, AURA member, track trekker and more. He has a very welcoming way about him and can relate to both the novice and the experienced runner alike. So we thought it fitting, to sit down with Michael for a chat, and here’s what he had to say about running and his life on the road.
What are your hobbies, outside of your professional life?
Outside of work, I enjoy running, traveling, gardening, beekeeping, and acting. When I’m not injured, I try to run at least three times a week. Tuesdays at the track with the fast people (I’m the slow one.). Thursdays at Go! Running or at home when work keeps me from Go! Sundays at Scott Field. Spring and summer will find me tootling around in the garden trying to do my best to raise garlic, tomatoes, peppers, okra, and eggplant. It’s good to get the hands dirty I have two beehives of honeybees but have yet to figure out how to get honey. I love the theater and occasionally be found acting a fool on one of the several theaters in Little Rock. Support local theater! Between all those hobbies, I’m always busy. Lastly, but probably most importantly, I’m ‘Gary The Dog’s’ human.
Why did you start running?
I got started running when I was approaching one of those milestone birthdays. A friend of mine said he was going to run a marathon, which caused me to think i could do that. Well, he ran the marathon. I bailed and ran the half. I decided then and there that people who ran marathons were insane. I only ran 13.1 miles and felt like l had been run over by a steamroller. So, naturally, I ran the marathon the next year. During the training for the marathon, I met Michelle Rupp. She was my running buddy and motivator during the training. Thanks to her, I was able to finish the marathon and was hooked. Since then, I have finished at least 35 marathons (I lost count) and 3 – 50Ks. I travel with work two to four times per year and usually try to find a race during my travels.
What’s your favorite thing about working with Go! Running? The people. The people who come to the store, the people who work at the store, and the people who own the store. I love getting to visit with the people who walk in the door, finding about their goals, and helping them with their goals. Working at Go! is great because it’s not like going to work, it’s like going to the hangout with running friends and socialize. Everybody has a story.
What three words describe your running? Slow. Slower. Slowest.
Do you have any quirky habits while running? If it’s anything longer than a 400m run, I will be point-running. I will pick out a point to run as hard as I can as fast as I can. Then catch my breath, walk, and repeat the point run. One day, I’ll be able to put these points together and not stop during a race.
Finish this sentence. I won’t run outside when it’s storming. I don’t mess with lightning, though I thoroughly enjoy a great thunderstorm. Anybody up to chasing tornados?
What was your best run ever? My best run ever was at the 2009 Seattle Rock ‘N Roll Marathon in Seattle, Washington. It was my birthday. It was a PR. I haven’t come close to that time since.
What’s your favorite race and why? Cossatot River Trail Half Marathon at Cossatot River State Park in Wickes, Arkansas. This race takes place in October, usually when the leaves are showing a brilliant display of orange, gold, and red. The race starts at the north end of the park and follows a single-track trail along the beautiful Cossatot River. The single-track trail meanders along the river and crosses the river before hitting the hills above the Cossatot Falls. The Cossatot River, by the way, is the only place in Arkansas that has Class IV or V rapids when the water is high. Otherwise, the rapids are rated Class II or III. The changing color of leaves, the trails, the sights of the river, and the sound of the falls, all make this race my favorite.
What do you love most about running? The socialization. Running may be an individual sport, but it is definitely a social sport.
What is a goal you have for your runnning? My goal, as it has been for the last six years, is to run the Go! Mile in 6:59.99.
If you would like to meet Michael, we invite you to stop by and chat with him on a thursday night and the rest of the Go! family. We welcome runners and walkers from all paces and walks of life. Come and be part of our running/walking community. Remember, every run begins with Go!
WRA – Celebrating 20 years of Empowering Women
Each year, Go! Running has the opportunity to meet some amazing and inspiring women all across central Arkansas through the Women Run Arkansas (WRA) clinics. This organization has been sponsoring FREE run/walk clinics across the state since 1997. This 10 week training program begins the first week in March and finishes with a 5k on May 13th. Since it’s well underway this year, we’d like to give a shout out to all the amazing women who are out there right now, making their goals a reality. Congrats.
Recently, Go! Running caught up with a few of the leaders of local WRA groups to see what they had to say about this wonderful group of women runners:
Monica Ritchie – North Little Rock
When we asked Monica what her favorite thing is about her group she said, “The smiles, the encouraging words, experiencing their successes while achieving a few of my own. Meeting so many different women with different stories, careers and personalities is incredibly inspiring. It’s absolutely refreshing and fulfilling to be part of a group with similar goals. When women find the strength they seek within their selves they find it changes them somehow. Usually for the better. It takes a leap of faith to join a large group of strangers to do something you have never done before. I think this is why we have so many return every year. It’s empowering to know that the smallest changes in your life can make the biggest impact.”
Getting to know Monica. Monica is the co-director of the North Little Rock WRA group and has been running for 7 years. She is also President of the Hot Legs Running club and enjoys exploring, running and walking on wooded trails all around the state. She especially loves her WRA running group. She loves watching women become friends and support and motivate each other at the WRA clinics. The group empowers women to run through action and understanding. They understand that every woman is different but everyone has the ability to achieve goals. This group lends support to runners and walkers of all levels and no woman is left behind on the trails.
Monica’s favorite race is the Village Creek 25K at Village Creek State Park. She said, “There is something about gorgeous trails in the woods with spectacular views that give me peace and bring me back year after year.”
Join Monica and the North Little Rock WRA group on Mondays and Thursdays at 5:30 at Burns Park Soccer Field. There is access from here to all the various paved trails in the area as well as all the gorgeous views along the river trail system.
Lisa Perk – Little Rock Fellowship
When we asked Lisa what makes this chapter of WRA so special she said, “The clinic is a truly special group – although we have many returning faces each year, our new participants seem to feel like long-time friends from the minute we start our workout. We have a dynamic group of leaders and my co-director Barbara Sugg is the peanut butter to my jelly.”
Getting to know Lisa. Lisa claims herself to be an adult onset runner, because she picked up the sport at age 39. She started running with a small group of women and fell in love with the sport. When she moved to Little Rock in 2012, she sought out the running community here, which has provided her with new friends and wonderful opportunities to give back to the running community. She especially loves working with her chapter of WRA because the group welcomes all women at all levels of running. Their group even has a stroller moms walking group. WRA is truly a judgment free place to exercise and the leaders really create a safe space where women can be enthusiastic about running and healthy living. This chapter of WRA meets at Fellowship Bible Church on Kirk Road Mondays and Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Wendi Holzkinecht – Hillcrest
When we asked Wendi what her favorite thing is about her group, she said: “I love seeing the ladies transformation about themselves, especially Week 5, when the ladies start seeing a big change.”
Getting to know Wendi. Wendi is the director of the WRA Hillcrest Runners and has been running for 11 years. She loves this group of ladies that lead and participate in WRA. Wendi enjoys helping ladies become stronger and her favorite thing is seeing each woman’s transformation as a runner and a person. She especially enjoys week 5, when women really start seeing a change. Her favorite race is Women Can Run 5K Run/Walk event in May when everyone “graduates” at this special 5k.
Not everyone runs. You can join a walker group, where your goal is to walk up to 3.1 miles using slow-fast intervals and increase your time to 50 minutes. You can also join one of their runner groups. The beginning group run/walks and their goal is to complete a 5k and the intermediate runners train to run consistently and run at least 4 minutes before taking a break. The Hillcrest WRA group meets on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 5:30 at the War Memorial Stadium Parking Lot, corner of Markham & Fair Park Blvd.
Proud to support:
Go! Running is so proud to support these clinics. And anyone who participates can come in during the clinic (Mar – May) and mention you’re running with WRA to get a 10% discount! We’ve had the pleasure of speaking at most of the clinics in and around Central Arkansas – on topics ranging from Good Form Running, to the importance of shoe fitting, motivation, bra fitting, tech apparel and more.
Many ladies from these groups have even formed their own local running groups and stay together year ‘round! And when they finish their clinics on Thursdays, often join in with the Go! Running Thursday night runs at 6pm. If you’re interested to learn more on WRA and sign up for the May 13th 5k, you can go to http://www.womenrunarkansas.net.
Enjoy each and every moment. Some of the best women we know are out there to help.