History-Making Runner Chris Nikic to Run Publix Atlanta Half Marathon
ATLANTA - January 11, 2023 - Atlanta Track Club
announced a history-making new addition to the 2023 Publix Atlanta Marathon
Weekend: Chris Nikic, the first person with Down syndrome to complete an
IRONMAN Triathlon, will run the Publix Atlanta Half Marathon as Runner 321 on
Sunday, February 26. Nikic also plans to bring a whole team of athletes with
disabilities from his Florida Special Olympics community to Atlanta.
Additionally, with guidance from Nikic, Atlanta Track Club has added a category
in registration specifically to accommodate neurodivergent athletes.
Runner 321 is an initiative powered by adidas and Chris Nikic's
team, aiming to improve inclusion in fitness for athletes with physical and
intellectual disabilities. The message calls for all major marathons to hold
bib #321 aside for an athlete with a disability. The number "321" represents
trisomy 21, a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third
copy of chromosome 21, hence 3-2-1.
"When I was a kid, I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in
mainstream sports," Nikic said in an adidas campaign video about the
initiative. "And now, we're changing that."
At just 21 years old, Nikic completed his first IRONMAN 70.3
Triathlon, which includes a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and running a half
marathon (13.1 miles) in May 2020. He took it up a level by completing the
IRONMAN 140.6 in November 2020, completing a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride
and running a full marathon (26.2 miles). The IRONMAN is known for being one of
the most physically challenging and demanding sporting events an athlete can
Nikic was the first athlete with a disability to run as Runner 321
at the 2022 Boston Marathon. He ran the marathon in the previous year, but
without the iconic bib number as it officially launched in March 2022 for World
Down Syndrome Day. After he completed the 2022 race, he passed the bib onto the
next Runner 321, Kayleigh Williamson, another athlete with Down syndrome and
the first person with Down syndrome to complete the Austin Marathon.
This February, Nikic and Williamson (along with a whole team of
athletes with disabilities), will take the streets of Atlanta during the Publix
Atlanta Marathon Weekend on February 25-26, 2023. Nikic plans to attend the
Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend Expo to pick up his race number and host a
panel to discuss his book "1% Better."
"Inclusion in the running and fitness community, no matter what
ability an individual has, is important to Atlanta Track Club and represents
the values of Running City USA," Rich Kenah, CEO of Atlanta Track Club, said.
"We are thrilled to have Chris Nikic join us, and we're more excited to offer
this experience to more athletes with disabilities moving forward."
This is just the beginning of Runner 321 at Atlanta Track Club's
events. After the 2023 Publix Atlanta Marathon Weekend, the Club will invite
individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities to submit their
interest in being Runner 321 at all events.