This is the first event of its kind and it will be welcoming to athletes of all ages and abilities. As a truly Unified event, it will also be open to non-Special Olympics athletes.
In the spirit of inclusion, participants don’t have to be experienced runners to tackle one of the three distances offered. The distances will include an 800 meter-run that gives a generous 20 minutes to finish, a 1600-meter run that gives 35 minutes to finish, and a 5000-meter run that participants will have 70 minutes to complete.
“The whole idea behind this is anyone can participate.” Kenosha Running Company owner, Brian Thomas
The Special Olympics State Cross Country Meet will begin at 2:00 p.m., taking place in the middle of Kenosha Running Company’s Hilloopy and Hot Hilly Hairy Ultra Races. According to Brian Thomas, the owner of Kenosha Running Company, the day is like a party for runners.
“It’s a really fun day. Sometimes people run in costumes and everybody just has a good time there,” Thomas said. “It’s not like a track meet. It’s not like a cross country meet. It’s like a running festival.”
The unique atmosphere of the day is what should appeal to just about everybody, from hardcore runners, to walkers, to people who want to just come out and have a good time cheering their friends on in a unique and enjoyable environment.
In fact, one of the first registrants for the State Cross Meet was an athlete in a wheelchair. Thomas told him that if the grass on the course was too thick to push his wheelchair on, they could accommodate him on an adjacent bike path.
“The whole idea behind this is anyone can participate,” Thomas said.
“It’s sort of like a tailgate party. The community is so social and supportive.” – Thomas
Regardless of how people participate, they will be in for a treat when they find themselves in the midst of the running community that will be there for one or more of the 20 races taking place throughout the day.
“It’s sort of like a tailgate party,” Thomas said. “The community is so social and supportive. They’re just people who love to run and be around people who love to run. They have that common thread.”
The day’s events will include music, concessions and an incredibly positive energy as the crowds enthusiastically cheer on runners – friends and strangers alike.
Thomas thinks that the energy of the crowd can help people surprise themselves on the course. “Give yourself a chance to do something new in a fun environment. See what your body and mind can do,” Thomas said.
As a cross country coach, Thomas used to tell his runners, “have the courage to fail,” which isn’t too far off from the Special Olympics Athlete Oath.
So this July 27, “have the courage to fail” and “be brave in the attempt” at the inaugural Special Olympics Wisconsin Cross Country Meet!
Click here for more information or to register.