Publix Florida Marathon Weekend Hosts Intellectual Impaired Division for All Races

January 23, 2024

Chris Nikic 1% Foundation Offers $8,100 Cash Purse for Feb. 11 Melbourne, Fl. Races

/ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Smooth Running, LLC, the producer of the Publix Florida Marathon Weekend and other leading Central Florida triathlons, distance running races and professional surfing tournaments is proud to partner with the Chris Nikic 1% Better Foundation to feature an Intellectually Impaired (I. I.) division in each of its four race distances at the February 11, 2024 Publix Florida Marathon Weekend in Melbourne.

The Chris Nikic 1% Better Foundation will be offering a total cash prize purse of $8,100 for Intellectually Impaired runners to be spread across the Top 3 male and female finishers of two I.I. categories in each of the race weekend’s 5k, 10k, 1⁄2 marathon and marathon races.

The two I. I. divisions will be comprised of the following: A) I. I.-1 (Autism & other cognitive disabilities) B) I. I.-2 (Down Syndrome & others with both physical and cognitive disabilities).

“Everything I do is about raising awareness for inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Chris Nikic, managing partner of the Chris Nikic 1% Better Foundation. “Sports help with so many things like health, social inclusion and work opportunities. My dream is to see people with intellectual disabilities represented in every running event in the world.”

The Publix Florida Marathon Weekend is one of Central Florida’s premiere distance running events and in February 2023 became one of the first running events to offer a neurodivergent prize category. With the new creation of an expanded Intellectually Impaired category and the monetary input of the Chris Nikic 1% Better Foundation, it is believed that their February 11, 2024 races will be the first running event in the world to offer cash prizes to Intellectually Impaired athletes.

“I’ve been a fan of Chris’ for a while and came to know him and his dad, Nik, when they started coming to some of our races a few years back,” said Smooth Running Principal Mitch Varnes. “it is so rewarding and just for these wonderful athletes to have their own division, and this cash prize purse is a tremendous thing. Our title sponsor, Publix, has been a supporter of Special Olympics since its inception in 1972, and our race is both honored and proud to be the conduit to help lead this new running race division and looks forward to seeing others races follow suit.


Chris Nikic, 24, is an Adidas sponsored athlete and global Special Olympics Ambassador, who came to prominence in 2020 for becoming the first person in the world with Down Syndrome to complete an IronMan distance triathlon. Chris has received numerous accolades as result of this and his ongoing sporting accomplishments, including an ESPY award for Best Athlete with a Disability in Men’s Sports and the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

The Publix Florida Marathon Weekend is donating a free race registration to the first 30 athletes to enter the Intellectually Impaired division of any race distance via www.thefloridamarathon.com

Once the 30 Complimentary race entries have been depleted, I.I division athletes will be able to enter and receive with a 50% discount via www.thefloridamarathon.com

To receive a discounted entry or a comped entry, please email Chris Nikic at chris@chrisnikic.com

NOTE: All individuals entering either Intellectually Impaired division races must be able to provide proof, if requested, of an intellectual disability.

All athletes in this division will also be required to wear a 1% Better shirt during the race, which will be provided to I.I. athletes at packet pick up.

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CHRIS NIKIC 1% BETTER FOUNDATION / Chrisnikic.com | chris@chrisnikic.com

Mitch Varnes / Publix Florida Marathon Weekend / info@thefloridamarathon.com / 321-759-7200