Running for life

By Kara Hansen
Special to The Leaven

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When runners cross the finish line at the Kansas City Marathon next fall, 100 of them will be running for a cause.
They are running for life.
“We currently have 75 adult LIFE Runners in the half/full marathon and 5K, and 12 kid LIFE Runners in the half marathon, 5K, and 1.2-mile races from 18 states and Kenya,” said Pat Castle, co-founder and coach of LIFE Runners. “One of our LIFE Runners is really a ‘LIFE Roller,’ doing 1.2 miles in a wheelchair.” 
Castle and several others provide a training schedule and daily devotionals to anyone who signs up to be a LIFE Runner. Training is largely done on one’s own, since those signed up to be LIFE Runners are spread across the country and even beyond.
“We usually train by ourselves and sometimes meet up in small groups for local races,” said Castle, who hails from Illinois.
LIFE Runners are asked to not only physically train for a race, but to pray as well. They pray for abortion providers, pregnant women, and unborn children as they train. Each year a different pro-life philanthropy is chosen, and runners support the chosen ministry.
This year, funds raised will go to support the Alpha Pregnancy Center and its crisis pregnancy bus called Fleet for Little Feet. The bus travels all over South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota with the goal of reaching pregnant women in rural areas to provide them with a free ultrasound and abortion alternatives.
Some 87 percent of women who see ultrasound images of their unborn baby choose to continue their pregnancies, making the bus a particularly appropriate choice for LIFE Runners.
“The expectation is that each LIFE Runner makes a donation to that year’s designated pro-life ministry and raises or contributes at least $250,” said Castle. “Last year and this year, the donations go directly to the Alpha Center, who reports our total contribution. We also keep track on our own to make sure all LIFE Runners’ contributions are captured.”
LIFE Runners participate in one full team race each year. Past year’s cities have included Chicago, the Twin Cities, and Sioux Falls, S.D. This year, LIFE Runners are participating in the Kansas City Marathon, which takes place on Oct. 15.
The goal, said Castle, is to have 100 LIFE Runners competing in the Kansas City Marathon, which would raise $250,000 for the Alpha Pregnancy Center bus. Currently, there are 88 runners preparing for the race as LIFE Runners.
Castle said runners of all levels are invited to participate as LIFE Runners, from first-timers doing the half-marathon to elite runners. Children are invited to participate in the kids race as LIFE Runners as well.
For more information or to get involved, contact Castle online at: contact@lifegroup413.org, or visit the Web site at:  http://marathon-for-life.blogspot.com.