For the Love of Running and Friendship – 12 Half Marathons in 12 Months

Not even a global pandemic could stop Kari Bailen from accomplishing her goal of running at least one half marathon each month in 2020.

She completed her quest by conquering the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon on December 13 in Biloxi.

She ran more than 750 miles during the year – and had a lot of fun along the way with a dedicated group of fellow runners who kept each other entertained, motivated and on course.

“Our runs have taken us across the Gulf Coast, from New Orleans to Ocean Springs and Spanish Fort to the east,” said Kari, a Marketing Assistant in Neel-Schaffer’s Biloxi office. “We even traveled north to Stone County to run the hills. One month we spelled Faith, Hope, and Love with our routes to keep things fun. We have discovered new businesses and restaurants along our routes and as we have watched communities wake up and begin to move, we have witnessed some of the most magnificent sunrises over the Gulf.”

Kari said her group ran three times a week, regardless of the weather: “We trained through rain, 20 mph winds, and freezing temperatures to be ready for anything race day holds.”

She even met a celebrity during one run, posing for early morning pictures in Gulfport with Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel, who was doing live shots in advance of Hurricane Sally. (That’s Kari on the left, with running partner Kelsey Deschamp on the right in the above photo).

“We’ve brought home trophies and medals, but far more valuable than the awards are the friendships formed through this journey,” said Kari. “The ladies and gentlemen in our group  are tireless supporters and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Asked about her goals for 2021, Kari said: “I don’t know how to top 2020, but I’m going to try for 1,000 miles.”