Running on a Prayer

Local residents team up with World Vision for the Twin Cities Marathon.
Amy Lippert, Craig Johnson and Ally Bowen are three Woodbury residents who will run this year’s Twin Cities Marathon for Team World Vision.

While most marathoners worry about staying hydrated, a group of Woodbury runners prays their 26.2-mile effort will help fund clean water for people in Africa. This year’s Twin Cities Marathon (TCM) on October 1 will once again have a dedicated team of runners from World Vision, a global Christian humanitarian organization working to help communities lift themselves out of poverty.
“Team World Vision empowers people to experience life transformation through endurance races, community advocacy and social giving for vulnerable children worldwide,” says Sinead Barry-Lukas, Twin Cities area director of Team World Vision. “This ministry of World Vision uses a peer-to-peer giving model to gather funding for clean water projects in Africa.”

It got its start in 2006 with 100 runners at the Chicago Marathon raising $100,000 for vulnerable communities in Africa. Since then, Team World Vision has grown to partner with more than 400 churches and 30,000 runners, raising more than $30 million for clean water in Africa for 600,000 people.

For this year’s TCM, 437 participants are registered to run the marathon and 129 participants the half marathon for Team World Vision Twin Cities. Of these runners, 108 are from Woodbury and the surrounding communities, many from various local churches, including Woodbury Lutheran Church, Crossroads Church, Five Oaks Church and Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale.  

“Eighty percent of our runners are brand new to running; most have never even run a 5K before. They are compelled by their faith and desire to help some of the poorest children in the world,” Barry-Lukas says. “We provide beginners’ training plans and local group runs to help get them to the finish line. The East Side group run meets at the Gateway Trail in Oakdale at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings to do long runs together.”

The goal for the Twin Cities is to raise $1 million between the full and half marathon teams, which will provide clean water to 20,000 people. Meet some of the Woodbury runners on Team World Vision.

Jim Faust
Age: 40
Data warehouse specialist for 3M
Crossroads Church

Although he’s been running off and on for more than 10 years, this is Jim’s first year running with Team World Vision. “My wife and I have sponsored children through World Vision for many years, and last year my wife joined the team and ran her first marathon,” Faust says. “She encouraged me to seriously consider it, and after some serious thought and prayer, I decided that it was something I wanted to do. The primary reason is so that, through my fundraising, I can make a tangible difference for children in the Congo who today have no access to clean drinking water.”

Ally Bowen
Age: 38
Director and hairstylist at Spalon Montage
Crossroads Church

Bowen admits before she started running in 2013, she was not a runner at all. “I cannot say enough about how I went into this as a ‘one and done’ marathon and now it is part of who I am,” she says. “Running and training for my third marathon is just a small piece of the big picture of change that God is doing in the lives of everyone involved.

It has changed my life and my heart forever.”
Bowen says, “Running for others in need is emptying yourself completely so you can be as vulnerable as they are, even though it may be only temporary. The training is hard but it is nothing in comparison to how these people suffer every day.”

Craig Johnson
Age: 69
Guardian Angels Catholic Church

Craig Johnson started running three years ago, and hasn’t looked back. “I had committed to being fully active in my church and when I started running, I got connected with Team World Vision,” he says.

“Guardian Angels was the first Catholic parish to participate in Team World Vision in the nation, says Johnson, who is proud
of the team they are building, He has become a legacy member of Team World Vision, having raised more than $10,000 last year and working on the same amount for this year.

Johnson spent 10 days in Uganda and Kenya with Team World Vision last year and could see firsthand the impact of the water projects he helped raise money toward. “It’s a lot of fun to be a part of this community,” he says. “It’s also a very personal and spiritual experience where I spend a lot of time thinking about the gratitude of the life we live.”

Amy Lippert
Age: 29
Physical therapy assistant
Guardian Angels Catholic Church

“I learned about World Vision when I was 26 and would donate ducks and goats. When I was invited to run with Team World Vision, it felt like it fit perfectly with my calling,” says Lippert, who has been running for three years and says she feels called to help in Africa.

“The more I learn about the lasting impact World Vision makes, especially through clean water and how it empowers communities, I know I will continue to run,” she says. “Especially having two sponsor children through World Vision, it makes it a personal experience. I know I am changing lives and can inspire others to give or run; it makes the whole experience worthwhile.”

Aaron Parsons
Age: 25 / Teller at Anchor Bank
Jessica Parsons
Age: 24 / First grade teacher
Five Oaks Church

Aaron and Jessica Parsons, who have been married for two years, will complete their first marathon together this year on behalf of Team World Vision. “It is a great opportunity to complete a difficult task together and encourage one another,” Aaron says.
Aaron admits the only thing close to a marathon he’s done is “watching Netflix.” Jessica has a little more experience—she was a high school track athlete and has completed a half marathon.

They are both running to provide clean water for children and families in Africa.

“Training with Team World Vision has been awesome,” Jessica says. “It’s a lot of fun always having Aaron by my side to support and encourage one another. And group runs are the highlight of my week. It is so wonderful to spend time with such uplifting people who believe in the same cause.”

Wendy Baumgarn
Age: 40
Home-schooling mother of four
Woodbury Lutheran Church

“Why not run?” says Baumgarn, who has been running 5Ks for the past five years; this is her third marathon with Team World Vision. “We have sponsored a World Vision child for about 16 years and when I heard about Team World Vision, it seemed like a natural next step,” she says. “I knew as soon as I heard about it that I was called to run my first marathon to raise funds, awareness and help end the water crisis in Africa.

“The first year I ran for Team World Vision, my family was going through a tough time; I had no idea that running would be my therapy,” Baumgarn says. “That same year our World Vision sponsor child encouraged me to keep running in a letter she sent all the way from a remote village in Zambia. I needed the team as much, or more, than they needed me that first year. Now it has become a part of me, and a part of my family that supports me during training season. Some of my fellow runners have become my dearest friends.”

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Spectator Info
October 1
• Wheeler start 7:55 a.m., runner start 8 a.m.
• Starts near U.S. Bank Stadium, 6th St. near Portland Ave., Mpls
• Finishes near Minnesota State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul

Top 10 Spectator Spots
Mile 2  Corner of Douglas and Hennepin Aves., near the Walker Art Center
Mile 4  Lake Calhoun
Mile 7  The Rose Garden at Lake Harriet
Mile 11  Minnehaha Parkway & Cedar Ave.
Mile 13  Half marathon point
Mile 15  Minnehaha Falls
Mile 20 The ALARC Wall
Mile 21  E. River Road Hill to University of St. Thomas
Mile 22 to 25  Anywhere along Summit Ave.
Mile 26  Near the Cathedral on John Ireland Blvd.