SEARCY, Ark. – Many people share a love for competitive running. However, for the Arkansas Runner Mom, Tia Stone, her relationship with the sport is complicated.
Tia developed an appetite for running from her father, who she would run alongside with when she was a child. Her passion grew from there and she was later recruited to run cross-country and track for Harding University.
After a few years in San Francisco, Tia and her husband moved back to Arkansas where they began growing their family. Building a family became a full-time job for Tia, and the sport she had always been so passionate about soon became an afterthought.
“Running was really pushed to the backburner,” said Tia. “You have to have that desire and I didn’t have that through most of my twenties.”
Stone’s relationship with running was off-and-on for a while as her family continued to grow. It wasn’t until shortly after the birth of her fourth that Tia was able to devote time to her favorite sport once again.
“Once I recovered from my last child, it was a lot easier to get back into running,” Tia explained. “After my last one, I thought ‘this is the time where I can do something I’m really still passionate about’.”
Stone returned to the track in 2012, feeling nostalgic for the sport that had been such a big part of her life for so long.
“I remembered, when I got to the starting line, what it felt like to get back out there,” Tia responded. “I missed this.”
While Tia found time to return to running, there were still challenges to doing so while raising a family. She usually finds herself waking up early every morning to train, returning home just before her kids wake up to get ready for school.
“I’ll come in the door, help them get breakfast, make sure they’ve got their stuff for school together, and try to get ready as fast as I can myself for work.” Tia emphasized.
Tia’s training has certainly paid off. She has competed in several major races, such as the Boston Marathon and the Little Rock Marathon and even placed first in the Little Rock Marathon. She’s also set Arkansas state records for half marathon, full marathon and 15K for the master’s division (over 40 years old).
But she isn’t stopping there. For Stone, each race helps her to prepare for the next one.
“Whenever you run a race, you try to get a better time,” she said. “It feels good to set goals again.”
For Tia, races don’t end at the finish line. She currently serves as the President of Searcy Rush Running Club and as the Director of Searcy Kids Track Night.
The idea for Kids Track Night came to Tia 10 years ago after a friend of hers attended a family track event in Cabot. Tia felt that Searcy needed something like that, so the idea started to spread amongst families in Searcy.
“It started with just a couple families, then more people heard about it, so we made a Facebook group and added more people,” Tia explained.
Today, Searcy Rush sponsors Kids Track Night, which hosts hundreds of eager participants, ages 1 to 13, at the Harding University track. At each event, kids have the option to run every race from the 50-meter dash to the 400-meter dash and finish with the main event, the one-mile race. Six Track Nights are held each year, during the season, which lasts from April to October.
Tia started an event for kids so that children in Searcy can develop a passion for being active.
“It introduces them to being outside”, said Tia. She intends to teach kids that “running can be fun.”
Tia believes that events like Searcy Rush and Kids Track Night are her ways to give back to the sport she loves, as well as to the community that she’s a part of.
“With running, it’s given me so much… it’s kind of like when you give a gift at Christmas, you feel better when you give something than when you get it,” said Tia. “That’s how I feel with Kids Track Night – it’s a way for me to use running to give something back to people.”
In the past year and a half alone, Tia has run over twenty races, including 5K’s, 10K’s, 25K’s, half-marathons, and full-marathons and she doesn’t plan on hanging up the track shoes anytime soon! Her goals for 2019 include plans to set even more Arkansas state records.
“This year, I would like to lower the marathon state record,” she said. “I want to try to set the mile, two-mile, 5k and 10k record – those are the immediate ones.”
Tia certainly likes to keep herself busy! You can keep up with her busy lifestyle on her blog, Arkansas Runner Mom, to read more about her races.