KSN reporter Carly Willis will complete her third marathon in March.
The Wichita Chisholm Trail Marathon will take off for the first time on March 24.
The purpose of the race is to foster a premier regional sporting event that magnifies the culture of Wichita while runners and the community raise funds for the United Way of the Plains.
“When I heard that several groups within the Wichita community were working hard at bringing a brand new, Boston qualifier to town, I knew I had to be a part of it,” said Willis.
Willis has always been an athlete. She played volleyball and ran track at Newton High School. She specialized in sprints.
“We were able to break a school record for a relay that had been set in the 90s,” she said.
Willis started running longer distances her senior year. Her passion for the sport took off when she was a freshman at Washburn University.
“I talked to my dad who is an amazing athlete and I said, ‘I think I want to run a half marathon’ and he goes, ‘If you can run a half, you can run a full’ and that’s really just where the drive started,” Willis explained.
She completed her first marathon in April of 2013 in Olathe.
“That was fun because it as close enough for my dad to come and watch me. He would throw me granola bars or tell me, ‘Hey, you just have a 10K left or a 5K left,” she laughed.
After that, Willis was hooked. She ran her second marathon in Oklahoma City the following year. She has also completed numerous 5Ks, 10Ks and even a sprint triathlon.
“Running is a life sport which is why I like it. You can pick it up at any point and it’s there for you. i do believe our bodies were made to run,” Willis said.
She said running is her mental escape.
“It’s extremely meditative,” she said. “It really is the time that I can learn more about myself.”
Willis said she has learned a great deal while training for her third marathon.
“I can learn I had more grit than I thought I did and I can dig deeper and find something, whether it’s in my legs or it’s in my heart, I can find something to push through,” she said.
Willis and her husband, who is also running in the March marathon, have set out on a series of long runs nearly every weekend in 2019.
“The difference between my husband and I, he takes off so good and so strong, and I am slower to start then I can really dig it out the last couple of miles,” Willis said.
Willis said her goal for the race is not to finish in a certain time but to finish strong.
“I want to be able to power through those last six miles to be able to have a smile on my face when I see people I know at the finish line,” she said.
She said it will be especially monumental to finish the Chisholm Trail Marathon because it is so close to her hometown.
“Just it being home, I think, will have a new meaning for me,” Willis explained. “While it feels like certainly a personal victory for me, it feels like a victory for Wichita having this marathon in the first place.”