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Half Marathon In South Norwalk Caters To Broad Range Of Runners

The first SoNo Half Marathon steps off Saturday at 9 a.m. from Veterans Park in Norwalk.
The first SoNo Half Marathon steps off Saturday at 9 a.m. from Veterans Park in Norwalk. Photo Credit: Courtesy of SoNo Half Marathon

NORWALK, Conn. -- Shannon and James Whipple wanted to bring a road race to Norwalk that catered to a broad range of runners. Saturday’s SoNo Half Marathon appears to have done just that.

The Norwalk natives are the race directors for the first year race, which also includes a 5k and kids fun run. The half marathon steps off at 9 a.m. at Veterans Park in South Norwalk.

Interest built for the races from the outset. The event has sold out, and more than 1,800 runners will descend on Norwalk on Saturday morning.

“We both grew up in Norwalk and we’ve done a lot of local races,’’ Shannon said. “We thought why couldn’t Norwalk have a big race. We wanted to make it appeal to all the runners out there.”

  • What: SoNo Half Marathon & 5k
  • When: Saturday, October 17, 9 a.m.
  • Where: Veterans Park, Norwalk

The Whipples, both of whom are experienced and dedicated runners, went the extra mile for the race participants. Race amenities include a certified half marathon course, a post-race party with food, refreshments, music and beer, water and sports drinks along the course, free race photos, technical running shirts, custom awards, and finisher medals and medallions.

“We tried to let people know that we’ve put a lot of time and energy into putting together a first-class event,’’ James said. “We wanted to bring a little more excitement and pizzazz.”

The half marathon starts and finishes in Veterans Park. Runners will traverse through an assortment of neighborhoods, including Martin Luther King Drive, Highland Avenue, Soundview Avenue, Washington Street, Oyster Shell Park and Shady Beach.

The Whipples leveraged their social media expertise to generate interest in the race, which sold out in early October

“The most disappointing thing for me is people who want to run and we cannot provide a bib,’’ James said. “We provided a number to vendors of about 1,000 to 1,500. We had to go and tell them we were at the top range and even a little beyond that. We also had a deadline on placing the last medal order. We ordered extra, but right after we made our last order we saw a jump in interest. We’ve been able to facilitate most of the requests. But with the medal situation, the shirt order, the sponsors who were figuring on a certain amount of people and the number of police, we couldn’t accommodate everyone.”

Shannon and James said Norwalk Police, Parks and Recreation, and many other city departments have embraced the race. The community has also responded, with a long list of sponsors and supporters. It has been a draining, yet rewarding, experience in bringing all the pieces together.

“People have embraced it because they see it’s going to be a fun event,’’ Shannon said. “We’ll have motivational signs, DJs along the course, ice cream for runners near the finish. This is a totally different type of running experience. And it won’t take up major resources for multiple days.”

For more information, visit the race website.

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