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Norwalk Couple Proposes New Half-Marathon In 2015

Norwalk’s Shannon and James Whipple at the starting point for the Boston Marathon.
Norwalk’s Shannon and James Whipple at the starting point for the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk’s Shannon and James Whipple joined Fairfield County’s vibrant running community six years ago. After running and volunteering at many area races, the couple now feels ready to direct their own event.

The Whipples will launch the the SoNo Half Marathon and 5K on Saturday, Oct. 17. The 13.1-mile race will start and end at Veterans Park, with twists and turns near Rowayton, downtown Norwalk and East Norwalk. The 5K loop will mostly be run in South Norwalk. The Whipples announced the event via Facebook . A website with registration should be online soon.

“For a few years now, James and I have been saying that Norwalk needs a great half,’’ Shannon said. “We run Fairfield every year and see what a positive impact it has on the community. So we finally decided, since we’re both born and raised in Norwalk and certainly always up for a challenge, we’d put one on.”

James said the race has been approved by Norwalk Recreation and Parks and by the Common Council. The last hurdle is to get an estimate for police costs.

“We want everything to be set up properly,’’ James said. “We want it to be like no other race we’ve ever done. There is so much involved. Ten months is going to be enough time, but there are a lot of logistics.”

Shannon started running six years ago, and James followed a year later. They ran the Boston Marathon this year. They have also gone well beyond the 26.2-mile barrier, with James finishing the Western States 100 miler and Shannon a 50-miler in Maryland this year.

“When I started running, I thought it would be a one and done thing,’’ Shannon said. “The more I do it, the more I love it. I don’t think we ever thought we’d be directing a race.”

“We enjoy the atmosphere,’’ James said. “The more we run, the more we’re walking away thinking we can do this. We enjoy organizing stuff and getting people to run and motivating them. We’ve done it on a lower level with group runs. Running has totally engrossed our life. We’re thinking about what’s the next challenge.”

The Whipples realize directing a race has its own unique challenges. Races of equal distances are run in Norwalk in September, and in Weston and Ridgefield in October.

But they promise an atmosphere, medal and experience that will be unique. They have both run the Fairfield Half Marathon in June several times, and believe South Norwalk is the perfect choice for a rewarding fall race. They plan to solicit sponsors and also work with local charities as a way to give back to the community.

Shannon said runners are going to enjoy the course.

“This course was designed to engage runners both mentally and physically,’’ she said. “There is a fantastic variety of neighborhoods and scenery the entire 13.1 miles. We take you past historical landmarks, through parks, along coast and down residential streets that are enjoyable to run. It’s a great course.”

“I think this will be a great attraction for Norwalk,’’ James said. “We’re looking to bring a big race to this city and bring people down to this area. I think it’s a great thing.”

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