LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – The Little Rock Marathon is clearing up misinformation after word spread Ainsley’s Angels would not be allowed to run in the 2019 race.
Ainsley’s Angels is a nationwide program for the special needs community. Runners push participants in a stroller during different races across the country.
Six special needs children and adults ran in the Little Rock marathon for the first time in 2018. However, a spokesperson for the Little Rock Marathon said they received multiple complaints from runners they were blocking the course.
Pamela Williams Garner, a mother to one of the runners, posted a video to Facebook on Thursday. She said marathon officials told them Ainsley’s Angels would not be allowed to participate in the 2019 marathon, but after online criticism, they said they would be allowed to run with some restrictions. Garner said the marathon was only allowing one runner per chair and they had to start behind the walkers. In 2018, some chairs had three or four runners and they started in front of everyone else.
Gina Marchese Pharis with the Little Rock Marathon said they never told Ainsley’s Angels they could not run anymore. Pharis said they had to work through some safety issues before they could allow them to run again. Pharis said Ainsley’s Angels are now only allowed two runners per chair and they can start in their proper time corral with everyone else.
She said the Little Rock Marathon is “giddy” to have them back for the 2019 race and they deeply respect the mission behind Ainsley’s Angels.
"The Little Rock Marathon team has tremendous respect for the mission of Ainsley’s Angels and the work they do for the special needs community. As marathon directors, our top priority is the safety of all of our participants. After evaluating safety issues, we have discussed the necessary changes and are excited to welcome Ansley’s Angels to the 2019 Little Rock Marathon. We look forward to many more." - Little Rock Marathon spokesperson
The 2019 Little Rock Marathon is set for Sunday, March 3. This year's theme is, "A Race Odyssey."