Kathryn Lopez

There's no escaping the Obamas. As I was watching "Phineas and Ferb" with three of the fittest boys under 10 in America, there was Michelle Obama promoting fitness and physical movement. Putting aside her policy prescriptions, it's certainly not a bad message. And Pat Castle would be more than happy to lead the training.

The first lady might not be that into the direction he'd lead, however.

Castle, a lieutenant colonel at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis, co-founded LIFE Runners in 2008 with brother in pro-life and Air Force arms Rich Reich, a chemical research officer at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. Castle is the kind of unforgettable character who appears to put his heart and soul into every moment.

"Keep the faith, respect life from conception to natural death, run so as to win" is the mantra. LIFE Runners exists to "raise funds/awareness/prayers for pro-life," as Castle puts it, "while training for and racing in marathons." With runners from 19 states and countries as far as Turkey and Kenya, LIFE participants compete in numerous half or full marathons each year. The group has been represented at marathons in Chicago, the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls, S.D.

Nearly 200 runners are signed up for the next run on Oct. 15 in Kansas City, including a Catholic bishop from Illinois. Those training each have a $250 goal, with the money going toward helping the Sioux Falls Alpha Center purchase a pregnancy-help bus that will provide free sonograms in rural areas. Some of the funds raised above $25,000 will be donated to Kansas City's Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic for the same purpose.

It's also great self-help, not just in the Michele Obama PSA way. "Training for marathons requires great discipline (exercise for discipleship) and affords quiet time for prayer. The suffering times during speed workouts and long runs are potent prayers to help save the unborn and families," Castle says. In April at a fundraiser for the Sioux Falls Alpha Center, he said to a room of more than 700: "Let us get rid of everything that slows us down ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

The idea for the organization came about while Castle and Reich were marathon training in 2006. When work separated them, the morning conversations that came with their workouts continued via email, and toward the end of 2007, Castle began sharing these conversations with some family and friends. Soon a blog was born. Living In Faith Exchange (LIFE) Group focuses on the Christian's calling to live the faith and share it. LIFE now has a Facebook presence and even a radio component to spread the love.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.