Today’s guest is a woman that I first met while in Kansas for the Prairie Fire marathon last year.
Since taking on the sport as an adult, she has run over 20 half marathons, a handful of marathons, and a few half-Ironman triathlons as well.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Kandi Newkirk, the Director of Race Operations for wear blue: run to remember.
April of 2019 will mark 9 years since Kandi first began running.
Her journey with the sport first began when her daughter was a year old and she joined a stroller class at her gym.
The instructor of the class challenged Kandi to run a 5k while pushing her daughter in a stroller.
Kandi worked her way up to a 5k and from there went on to run a handful of 5ks and 10ks all while still pushing her daughter.
A friend suggested running a half and again Kandi did not back down from the challenge.
The Hilton Head half marathon was her first race of that distance and in her words, it was “miserable.”
As a self-described, “cold weather runner,” the Carolina heat really got to her.
Even a so-called miserable race didn’t stop her from pushing her limits even more.
FULL of Meaning
Around the time Kandi had completed 10-12 half marathons she began thinking about running a marathon.
For Kandi, there was only one option for which race to do and that was the Marine Corps Marathon.
Her father was a Marine in Vietnam and Kandi wanted to run the race in his honor.
Kandi trained for 6 months and ran 26 miles as her longest run.
Since Kandi finished her first MCM in 2012, she has since run it every year since then making her a 5-time finisher.
Kandi also traveled to Greece to run a marathon in the city where it all began.
An injury on the course didn’t stop her or take away from her once in a lifetime experience.
For the past 2 years, Kandi has also completed a few Ironman half distances.
No Run November
The Marine Corps Marathon takes place in October of every year, which made sense for Kandi to implement, “No Run November.”
Kandi began running at the age of 39 and plans to continue running for as long as possible.
In order to do that, she takes her rest and recovery seriously.
October and the months leading up to that are always hectic and full of hard training.
Taking the month of November off from running gives her body and mind a much-needed rest.
The time off doesn’t seem to impact her running much, if at all.
Being more of a cold weather runner, Kandi is always excited to start running again as the weather is cooling down.
Her return to running every year takes place on Thanksgiving with a 4-mile trail run with a friend.
Changed Forever In One Mile
Kandi first learned about wear blue: run to remember at mile 12 of her first Marine Corp Marathon.
Mile 12 was the blue mile and there were pictures of fallen soldiers.
One picture of a soldier holding his daughter caught Kandi’s attention and heart.
In the picture, the young girl was wearing the same outfit as one her daughter had.
Kandi decided right then and there that she want to DO something with that moment.
After the race, Kandi contacted the organization and shortly after began working as the expo coordinator which eventually led to the Director of Race Operations.
The wear blue organization is predominately made up of volunteers.
The purpose is to help bridge the gap between the military and civilian communities.
wear blue: run to remember
Wear blue: run to remember was founded following the redeployment of a combat unit in Afghanistan.
The unit sustained a significant amount of losses and casualties.
A small group of wives, including co-founder Lisa Hallett, met weekly to run and create a support group.
Lisa lost her husband John, in 2009, while serving in Afghanistan.
This small group eventually turned into a nationwide vision that is working to honor the service and sacrifice of military men and women.
The organization is continually growing and expanding, now including 42 communities across the United States.
Every Saturday people of all abilities join together to run and move while honoring the memories of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
There are currently 6 anchor communities and the organization participates in 14 races all over the country.
Gone But Never Forgotten
A Gold Star family member is an immediate family member that lost a loved one while in active duty.
The Gold Star program is open to spouses, parents, children, and siblings.
A loved one’s name and information can be submitted online and then will be honored at events.
The program provides access to running events, training programs, and support as a way to help with the healing.
Every Memorial Day, wear blue: run to remember, invites every American to join in honoring fallen service members and their families’ sacrifice.
There are multiple ways to participate and support the families.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- wear blue: run to remember
- Marine Corps Marathon
- Athens Marathon
- My Take: The 2018 Prairie Fire Marathon
Stay connected with Kandi by following her on Instagram.
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