Mark Willey

Lakewood neighbor Mark Willey was supposed to run the Boston Marathon in April. But when the event was canceled for the first time in its 124-year history because of the coronavirus, participants were given the option of running a virtual race in September.

So, Willey decided to bring the race to the shores of White Rock Lake.

On Sept. 14, Willey, owner of Offbeat Boxing and Cycling Studios, will run 26.2 miles around the lake to raise money for nonprofit partner Trinity Athletics, which provides CrossFit Kids programs in underserved areas of Dallas. The money will help the nonprofit launch its virtual programming, which includes a video series of kid-friendly workouts, progress tracking and Zoom meetings to deliver the social and emotional aspects of the program.

Race day will coincide with the grand opening of Offbeat Boxing and Cycling. The studio was originally scheduled to debut on Buckner Boulevard in June, but permitting delays and a spike in coronavirus cases pushed the soft opening to Aug. 10. The gym offers rhythm-based spin classes and boxing-based classes, as well as core and athletic training.

“We wanted to take as much extra time as we could in light of COVID,” Willey said. “The numbers were spiking right when we were planning on opening, and we wanted to catch it on the downswing. The first week went well. We’ve got some regulars and slowly building up.”

Willey will start the marathon at the gym and run 10 miles around the lake. Then he’ll teach a spin class and run 10 more miles around the lake. He’ll teach a boxing class before finishing the final 10K. He’ll track his progress on a GPS watch and submit it to the Boston Athletic Association. If he completes the race in six hours, he’ll receive a medal, T-shirt and runner’s bib.

Time slots in his spin and boxing classes will be sold and donated to Trinity Athletics. He hopes to raise $5,000.

“People can run legs with me if they want to run Rocky style,” Willey says. “I’ll climb Flag Pole Hill and jump up and down with my hands in the air. White Rock is the running base for Dallas, so it’s cool to do the Boston Marathon at the lake.”

Donations to Trinity Athletics can be made here. Just type the word “Offbeat” in the space provided below the donation amount. Follow @offbeatbcs on Instagram or register at offbeatbcs.com to get up-to-date news on how to get involved on race day.


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