Catholic Herald Staff

“I can roll better than I can run,” is how Bob Benson describes his athleticism.

Still, the Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus Council 499, Superior, has proposed the Catholic version of a fun run – a Marathon for Mary – that marries prayer and mobility.

For the first time, Wisconsin parishes are participating in the Knights of Columbus’ annual Running of the Rose.

A tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the international event begins in Canada. Knights convey silver roses southward – sometimes on foot, sometimes in a vehicle – through several U.S. routes to Monterrey, Mexico.

The roses are then presented at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day, Dec. 12.
To invite wider participation and veneration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, prayer services are scheduled as the rose travels through each state and diocese.

Wisconsin Knights will receive the rose June 8, which heralds the start of the state segment, the Silver Rose Run. Three Diocese of Superior parishes – churches in Woodruff, Webster and Balsam Lake – are scheduled to host rosary services.

The Marathon for Mary, a separate but related event, is Benson’s brainchild.

Walkers, joggers or runners will be able to take one or more turns around a one-mile trail starting at the Challenge Center parking lot, North 25th St., near the Mariner Mall, Superior. Each participant will receive a silver ribbon at the start of the mile, which will be turned in at the end for counting.

Although the silver rose will not be coming through Superior, miles accrued during the Marathon for Mary will be counted in the total number of miles traveled across the country, Benson said.
For the event’s first year, Benson is setting a humble goal. He hopes the group will be able to accumulate at least 26.2 miles, the distance of a marathon, but he’d like to tally more.

“I hope we get 40 or 50 people this first year,” he said. “If you walk a mile, run a mile, we don’t care.”

The free event begins at 9 a.m. and finishes at noon, Saturday, June 14, and a prayer service will be held throughout the morning.

The international Running of the Rose signifies solidarity among the nations and recognizes Mary’s role in upholding the dignity of human life, Benson explained. The Marathon for Mary won’t be a political or overtly public event – it’s mostly a chance to unite and pray.
“I think that is what Pope Francis was trying to do,” Benson added.

The apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe “was about human rights, more than anything,” he said.

Prayer services for the Silver Rose Run are at 5 p.m. June 14 at Our Lady of the Lakes, Balsam Lake; 11:30 a.m. Sunday, June 15 at St. John the Baptist, Webster; and 5 p.m. Monday, June 16 at Holy Family Church, Woodruff.

For information, contact Benson at 715-398-3365.