DENVER (CBS4) – The Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon & ½ Marathon is just a week and a half away and CBS4 is once again a proud sponsor.

In the past few years race organizers have noticed something interesting — a huge boom in the popularity of the half marathon. CBS4’s Dominic Garcia met two first-time runners who are helping grow the sport.

Lauren Walsh never thought she’d running in a marathon. She never had a reason to run.

“Before this I ran one mile when I was in middle school,” Walsh laughed.

Then her life changed.

“Nick died of cancer in June and his fight was not an easy one,” Walsh said.

She decided to run a half marathon for him before he died — and she’s keeping her promise.

“That’s been a interesting phenomenon,” marathon director of operations Alan Culpepper said.

Culpepper said more and more people are finding reasons to run — specifically half marathons. They’re a challenge, but not as daunting as a full marathon.

“It’s a sign of the times. People are more endurance-minded, more health-conscious, and setting themselves up for a challenge is what they’re looking for now,” Culpepper said.

Across the country, half marathons grew 24 percent last year. Women and charity groups are a big part of that number.

“This half marathon has changed my life,” Vickie McCallum said.

McCallum is with the group Team In Training, a fundraising program of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“It gives you a good feeling that you’re giving back to people who aren’t so fortunate,” McCallum said.

They’ve also discovered the health benefits.

“Now it’s an everyday thing — it’s get up, train at 5:30 a.m., go to work, come home and ride a bike,” McCallum said.

“Physically I’ve become stronger and I can run eight miles easy,” Walsh said.

McCallum and Walsh only needed one reason to start running. Now they have several to keep going.

Register for the marathon at the website linked below.

LINK: Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon


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