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Representation is Everything: Chris Nikic, First Athlete with Down Syndrome to Become an IRONMAN, to Speak at 2023 Running USA Conference

January 4, 2023

Inspiring remarks will be followed by fireside chat about access and inclusivity

DENVER /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – “Running changed my life,” says Chris Nikic, the first athlete with Down Syndrome to finish an IRONMAN triathlon (setting a world record in the process) and earn sponsorship from Adidas. “Now I want everyone like me to see that it’s possible for them too.”

Nikic will speak at the 2023 Running USA Industry Conference presented by Race Roster, set for Denver from Feb. 12-14, 2023. The event agenda includes a fantastic lineup of programming including keynote speaker Nicholas Thompson of The Atlantic, important insights on Gen Z from a new, unreleased study, and dozens of other great sessions.

Chris Nikic is one of the faces of Adidas’ Runner321, which represents trisomy 21 in the Down syndrome community. (Down Syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome 21 that results in intellectual disability and physical abnormalities.)

Races everywhere are encouraged to welcome neurodivergent athletes and help ensure their representation in mainstream sports. As Chris says: “When I was a kid, I rarely saw anyone who looked like me in mainstream sports.” His mission is to change that, and events can help.

Nikic believes his greatest achievement is showing others how shifting focus from disabilities to abilities and a no-quit spirit can help anyone achieve their goals and dreams. His remarks are sure to inspire and promote industry action.

Nikic’s appearance on Tuesday morning, Feb. 14 will be paired with an industry-focused conversation on Advancing Access and Achieving Inclusivity in Events.

This fireside chat-style session will discuss the evolving landscape of event participation with a focus on inclusivity for all and best practices for event producers.

Races are recognizing and welcoming new categories of participants, including non-binary and neurodivergent athletes, expanding outreach efforts and adapting event formats accordingly. Reaching underserved communities will also be a focus of the dialogue.

Moderator Jaclyn Levi will guide a thoughtful conversation focused on access, awareness and expansion. Panelists are Mary Beth Johnson, Community Engagement Manager for Chicago Event Management, and Marc Roy, CEO of Sportstats World.

Register for the 2023 Running USA Industry Conference today.

About the Industry Conference

Since its origins as a small gathering of Running USA’s founders in Southern California in 2004, the Running USA Industry Conference presented by Race Roster has grown to becoming the best-attended, most esteemed gathering of running industry professionals from around the USA and the world. Now moving locations each year, the conference has been held in Los Angeles, San Diego, Savannah, Houston, San Antonio, Orlando, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and heads to Denver for the 2023 event.

About Running USA

Running USA is a non-profit organization committed to the growth and success of the running industry. Our promise is to deliver quality education, exceptional industry content, valuable research and ample networking opportunities. We connect. We support. We educate. Running USA brings together an entire community. As the voice of endurance running, we’re all about connection and collaboration. Whether we’re connecting race organizers with sponsors, partners and athletes, or connecting our members with vital information and best practices, our goal is to raise the profile of running and help more people get more out of it. For more information, visit runningusa.org