19 Feb Registration now open for Soaring Wings marathon
by Sonja J. Keith
Registration has kicked off for the inaugural Soaring Wings of Conway Marathon and corresponding events.
Organizers announced last fall their plans to expand the annual Soaring Wings Half Marathon to a full marathon. Race co-directors Marla Watson and Amanda Castillo said the response to the announcement has been very favorable, and organizers have been busy securing sponsors and finalizing plans.
“There has been a lot of excitement,” Marla said. “There’s been a lot to do to get ready for it.”
Proceeds support Soaring Wings Ranch, a Christ-centered family and home that provides security, love and hope to children who need a chance. The staff meets each child where they are and challenges them to develop spiritually, intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically.
Soaring Wings is located on 195 acres in the Holland community, north of Conway. The half marathon has represented the single greatest fundraising event for the ranch.
The slogan for the event is “Giving Children A Chance to Soar!”
This year, the event will include the marathon, half marathon and a two-man relay beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at the McGee Center, which has been the location for the half marathon the last seven years. Events begin and end at the McGee Center. The event features a USATF-certified course.
In addition, there will be a free expo, Kids Run for Kids, and a pasta party Friday, Oct. 23, at the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds. The expo will feature a variety of vendors from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the pasta party at 6 p.m. Only 500 tickets to the pasta party will be sold. Packet pickup will also take place during the expo.
According to Marla, organizers plan to incorporate the Kids Run into the expo to create a family event.
Amanda explained that for the Kids Half Marathon, youngsters log 12 miles on their own and complete the remaining 1.1 miles with other participants at the Kids Run. The event also features other distances for other ages, with all young people receiving medals.
The Presenting Sponsor for the marathon weekend, which includes the marathon, expo and pasta party, is Crain Automotive. TLC Pediatrics is the sponsor for the half marathon and Kids Run. 501 LIFE is the official media sponsor. Hilton Garden Inn is the official host hotel. The Sporty Runner is the GU energy gel and pacer shirt sponsor. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.
The half marathon has sold out at 2,000 the last three years and will be capped at that amount again this year. Registration for the full marathon will be limited to 500. Only 100 teams will be accepted for the relay.
According to Amanda, a training program will be offered again this year in conjunction with the half and full marathon. Training will kick off with a First Mile event on Saturday, June 27, at the Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center. It will include a 5K and 10K. Training sessions will begin Saturday, July 11.
Amanda expects the Conway marathon to attract new runners as well as veterans who want to be a part of the inaugural event. Because of the anticipated interest in the event, she encourages runners to sign up as soon as possible to ensure a spot and before fees go up. “Don’t wait to sign up,” she said.
The Conway event will be the 11th marathon in the state and only the third in Central Arkansas. Few are held in the fall.
For more information or to register, visit swmarathon.com.