When three feet of snow canceled South Dakota’s Crazy Horse half and full marathons last October, thousands of runners were disappointed — among them, a group from the National LIFE Runners Team. But what could have easily devolved into a weekend of disappointment instead became part of the inspiration behind America’s first pro-life half marathon, slated for next month in Missouri. “We ended up essentially having, in hindsight, a great retreat,” explained Pat Castle, co-founder of the National LIFE Runners team. “I have to smile at the mystery of how what we had initially seen as ‘Oh, this isn’t a good thing,’ with the eyes of faith, became a blessing.” The National LIFE Runners team is now hosting, in collaboration with the national Vitae Foundation, the first ever pro-life half marathon on Nov. 9 in Jefferson City, Mo. The historic event also includes a 5K. Participants will wear jerseys with a positive pro-life message to help reach out to pregnant women who may be considering abortion and in need of resources, information and support. The event is open to all ages, but Castle said he also expects some very competitive runners to participate. The flat, 13.1 mile course snakes along the Missouri River on an old railroad bed of packed dirt. “It’s flat, fast and beautiful,” Castle said. “It’s a runner’s dream.” Races may seem like an unusual way to spread to pro-life message. But, Castle explained, the mission of the National LIFE Runners team is based on science. Research by the Vitae Foundation suggests that abortion-vulnerable women tend to respond negatively to graphic images of aborted babies and pro-life messages with overly religious tones. “They don’t want to think about God…they don’t want to think about their baby yet,” Castle said. “When they’re in crisis, they want to think about themselves…and they want help.” “So, if you reach out to a woman in need…with something positive, that’s step one.” The runners hope their pro-life jerseys will do just that. Members of the National LIFE Runners Team compete in races across the globe. In 2011, the organization had the largest team at the Kansas City Marathon. The following year, the National LIFE Runners Team made history in Saint Louis as the largest team to participate in a single Rock’n’Roll Series race. There are only two requirements for joining the team: register online and wear the National LIFE Runners Team’s blue jersey displaying the phrase: “Remember the Unborn.” “One thing we LIFE runners like to say is that our running and walking is redemptive,” Castle said. “Because it’s not just running; we’re running as a prayer.” To register for the pro-life half marathon and 5K, visit www.vitaefoundation.org/events. Early registration closes Oct. 17. Proceeds will support pregnancy resource centers that are partnered with the Vitae Foundation.
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