COVID-19 held the power to decimate Stockton when it made its presence known in our community back in February. Shutdowns and restrictions as well as political unrest and demonstrations have led many businesses to not only shutter their doors, but to board up their windows, too. COVID-19 is responsible for something else, as well. Back in November 2019, Isaiah Stowers, an eighth grade science teacher from Stockton and owner of Stowers Does it All, fell in love with running. But COVID took away his races, and as a result, Isaiah started running virtual events with a company called Medal Dash, in large part to keep his sanity while sheltering in place.
After some 5Ks, 10Ks, and a half marathon, Isaiah stepped up to the ultimate challenge—a full marathon—but in order to complete it virtually, he’d have to map out his own 26.2-mile route, complete with water stations, a starting point, and a finish line. He also wanted the content to stand out on his YouTube channel, but what in Stockton could he showcase? That’s when the idea to highlight local mom and pop businesses took hold. “I wanted to remind the people of our city to acknowledge the amazing people trying to stay afloat during these tough times,” Isaiah says. He dubbed the event the Small Business Marathon.
On October 19, Isaiah took off, starting at Elkhorn Country Club and ending at Trinity Parkway, drawing attention to more than 35 businesses along the way. It all started with a phone call to The Healthy Spot when Isaiah asked owners to act as a water station for his run. He made more calls to childhood favorite Robby’s Bicycles and the site of his previous employer, Moo Moo’s Burger Barn. Once he had enough businesses committed, he created a 26.2 mile running path that would pass every single business that he had reached out to, or that had reached out to him. The entire run cost him $6.39—the price of the finishing tape Isaiah purchased on Amazon.
“Everything came together based on the connection of the community, and that [makes] the message of the marathon so incredibly clear,” he says. “We are one community.” Friends rode alongside Isaiah on bikes and offered him encouragement as he ran. At the finish line, Isaiah was greeted by his wife and nine-month-old daughter, an ABC10 news van, and a well-deserved meal of tacos from food truck Tacos La Palmita, where spectators feasted alongside Isaiah.
Watch the race video:
YouTube: Stowers Does It All