He leads a flock of Catholics.
But Bishop James Conley said he won’t necessarily be leading the pack during Sunday’s Lincoln Marathon.
Conley, a former high school track runner, will participate in the full marathon.
The race will mark the sixth marathon for the 58-year-old bishop, who took over as head of the Lincoln Diocese last fall.
“I’m not about to break records,’’ he said. “I figure if I got any marathons left in me I better do it now rather than later.”
Sunday’s 26.2-mile race has a broader purpose for Conley and a group of about 200 other runners, who have received prayerful pledges. While the runners are on the course, others have pledged to pray continuously for 26.2 minutes for vocations as part of a national effort to encourage more men and women to become priests and sisters.
Running has a good connection with prayer, he said, because both require persistence as well as patience.
Conley grew up in Overland Park, Kan., where he ran the quarter-mile at Shawnee Mission West High School.
He got hooked on distance running in his 20s while attending seminary in Maryland.
Conley, a lean 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, ran his first marathon at age 41 in Colorado. Since then he’s run a marathon in Rome while working at the Vatican, and his most recent was the Chicago Marathon in 2007.
His best time? Four hours, 15 minutes.
His goal Sunday? Hit the finish line in less than five hours.
“I just want to finish,’’ he said.
When he’s not training for a big race, he runs five miles, three days a week.
He said running clears his mind, relieves stress and always leaves him with good ideas for sermons.
“It’s a great way,” he said, “to let my mind run free.”
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