NEW YORK CITY, February 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On March 5, thousands of dedicated pro-life athletes will begin a cross-country relay race that will take over a month to complete.
Over 2,000 runners are expected to participate in the LIFE Runners’ A-Cross America Relay, which will cover 4,089 miles divided into 1,103 5K runs. The race will kick off with 7 a.m. prayer vigils at both the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and the Golden Gate Bridge in California. Runners on both coasts will then head inland to begin each group’s roughly 2,000 mile course. On April 13, the two groups will meet in the middle, in Sioux Falls, SD, to complete the race.
Along the way, local runners in each town the courses pass through may sign up to participate in one or more 5K runs. There will be prayer rallies along both routes in Sacramento (Mar. 7), Washington, D.C. (Mar. 11), Denver, Alton and St. Louis (Mar. 30), and Rapid City (Apr. 6). Both routes have been plotted to pass by abortion facilities where 40 Days for Life groups will be holding prayer vigils.
Participating runners will be raising funds for Save the Storks, a national charity that uses vans as mobile crisis pregnancy centers, equipping them with with pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counselors and many other trappings of a brick-and-mortar center. They often park in front of abortion facilities to offer women in crisis an alternative source of information, along with loving care.
This is the second cross-country relay the LIFE Runners have taken on in as many years. The runs were inspired by a solo coast-to-coast trek one of the group’s co-founders, Jeff Grabowsky, conquered in 2011.
“Last year’s Biblical quest took over 8 million steps, some in harsh wind, rain, ice and snow as we passed through the 17 states,” said LIFE Runners’ president, Dr. Pat Castle. He said that in order to ensure every leg of the race had someone to run it, some people traveled hundreds of miles to cover less-populated stretches.
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“In areas where we didn’t have local LIFE Runners, some made the sacrifice to fly or even drive to the locations to bridge the gap,” Castle explained. “LIFE Runners like Grant Fenske drove 800 miles … to St. Joseph, MO to run 7 legs (24.45 miles) and Colleen Sleicher’s family flew from [New York] to cover hours of running through Nevada.”
Castle said that although he expects to face some of the same challenges this year, the group has doubled in size, making them more capable of filling any potential gaps.
Last year’s race made headlines when James Vignola, a high school track star, forfeited a spot on his school’s cross-country team just to run two legs of the relay.
Although the LIFE Runners relay is not competitive — no timer, medals, or placement of runners — James was told at a track meeting that participating in any outside race would disqualify him from school athletics for the year. But running to support the unborn was so important to the then-sophomore that he decided it was worth it, even if it meant giving up a whole year of sports.
“I thought it was the right thing to do, and my conscience was telling me to do it,” he told News Tribune.
Dr. Castle said that kind of dedication is exactly what he’s come to expect from LIFE Runners.
“LIFE Runners know from the moment they put on the jersey that says, ‘REMEMBER the Unborn,’ that there will be sacrifices to make as a member of this national organization for life,” Castle said. “We are all in for this exciting effort that raises awareness, funds and most importantly prayers for the unborn.”
To learn more about the race, or to contact LIFE Runners, please visit their website: https://www.liferunners.org