KANSAS CITY, July 8, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - When St. Paul exhorted Christians to run the race with endurance, he probably didn’t mean they should pull out actual running shoes, but Bishop Thomas Paprocki is taking St. Paul’s exhortation literally anyway.

Paprocki, the Bishop of Springfield, is travelling to Kansas City this October for the Kansas City Marathon. He will be joining LIFE Runners, a team of pro-life runners dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Life and raising funds for pro-life charities.

To donate to the 2011 LIFE Runner marathon, click here.

“The suffering times during speed workouts and long runs are potent prayers to help save the unborn and families,” explained the co-founder of the group, Pat Castle, in an interview with LifeSiteNews,

The organization grew out of a weekday email prayer devotional founded by running partners Pat Castle and Rich Reich. As chemistry professors at the Air Force Academy, Castle and Reich trained for marathons together in the mountains of Colorado Springs, and prayed together every morning before work.

When Reich moved to Florida in 2007 to work on his PhD, the two continued their weekday morning prayer devotionals over email. They began sharing their emails with family and friends, and eventually started a blog, which they named Living In Faith Exchange (LIFE) Group Devotions.

A year later, they formed the first LIFE Runners team to compete in the 2008 Chicago marathon. Castle and Reich continue to send out regular email devotions through LIFE Group, which Castle calls “the spiritual feeding arm” of the running group.

But personal prayer is only one element of what LIFE Runner Fr. Jonathon St. Andre refers to as “redemptive running.” Team members also seek to evangelize through pro-life slogans on their jerseys.

“We run for awareness, that the eyes of all people may be transformed and see every human life as a reflection of Your glory, Lord,” says the LIFE Runner’s creed.

Like many marathon runners, the LIFE Runner team uses each marathon to raise money for charity. Last year, the team raised $7,000 for the Alpha Center Crisis Pregnancy center’s bus, Fleet for Little Feet. The bus is a mobile Crisis Pregnancy Center that travels to rural areas in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, offering counseling and free ultrasounds.

This year, the team hopes to raise $25,000 for Alpha. The ambitious goal is a reflection of Castle and Reich’s success in expanding the group. While last year’s team consisted of 17 members, there are already 136 runners signed up for this year’s team. Participants come from 19 different states, as well as Canada, England, Turkey and Kenya.

Some of the runners are as young as 7 years old, and are participating in shorter marathons of 1.2 or 5 miles. Adult runners can choose between the 13 mile half marathon and the 26 mile full marathon. One participant, Vicki Kerkvliet from South Dakota, will be completing the 1.2 mile course in a wheelchair.

Those unable to make the trip out to Kansas City can participate in spirit by entering a local race or simply running a privately mapped out course in a LIFE Runners Jersey. All runners are asked to donate to or raise money for the designated charity.

According to Castle, participants range from running novices to former marathon champions. “We could have teammates finish near the back and teammates who win the race in LIFE Runners jerseys,” he said.

As for their first Episcopal participant, Bishop Paprocki is likely to carry his own in the upcoming marathon. The athletic 58-year-old is an avid hockey player who has been featured in USA Hockey Magazine, and is a veteran marathon runner.

“I have run several marathons in different cities for various causes and charities,” read the Bishop’s letter accepting the LIFE Runner’s invitation. “My favorite was Boston, although they have all been memorable. Chicago is flat and fast, Rome is classic, Athens is historic, Marine Corps was inspiring, and the Air Force Marathon at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton was uplifting. I like to run in different places, and I have chosen Kansas City for my 2011 marathon.”