Photo |  Coutesy L’Arche Mobile

In its 18th year, the annual First Light Marathon will be renamed The ServisFirst Bank Mobile Marathon presented by Infirmary Health and is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 13.

Back in 2001, an event called First Night Mobile was a nonalcoholic arts festival coinciding with New Year’s Eve. As a way to raise funds, L’Arche Mobile — a Christian community that shares the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in a permanent, familylike environment — decided to join the party and sponsor a certified full marathon.

As a play off the original event, the race was called the First Light Marathon (FLM). Although the festival is long gone, replaced by MoonPie Over Mobile, the FLM has gone on to become one of Alabama’s biggest sporting events. According to the latest figures from the Mobile Sports Authority, the 2017 marathon had an economic impact of nearly $1.25 million as more than 1,000 competitors came from 39 states, the District of Columbia and 16 foreign countries.

Starting in 2019, L’Arche Mobile has announced, the FLM will be renamed The ServisFirst Bank Mobile Marathon presented by Infirmary Health. The 18th annual event is set for Sunday, Jan. 13.

“L’Arche Mobile is excited about the name change of the marathon to The ServisFirst Bank Mobile Marathon presented by Infirmary Health,” said Emily Callaway, president of the L’Arche Mobile board of directors. “We have appreciated the support of our sponsors, all the volunteers who have made this a successful event and the potential future growth of this event which will benefit L’Arche Mobile.”

Marty O’Malley, executive director of the Mobile chapter since 1980, said among the original goals were to have a certified 26.2-mile course, to be able to showcase Mobile and to raise awareness for L’Arche. Along with its Football Preview Dinner in May, the marathon has provided vital funding for residents.

To show their appreciation, L’Arche members make special wooden medallions for all participants in the full marathon, half-marathon, relay race and Fun Run. Each year, about 3,000 medallions are created.

Additionally, there are approximately 1,200 special awards that are painted canvases. On the back of each is a biography of the resident who was involved. The residents give out the mementos at the completion of the race.

“The First Light Marathon has become a landmark event for Mobile, benefiting an incredible organization, L’Arche Mobile,” said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “Rechristening this race as The ServisFirst Bank Mobile Marathon presented by Infirmary Health further establishes our city as a destination. Racers from across the region travel to Mobile and experience the beauty of our city throughout the course.”

The full marathon, half-marathon and five-person relay will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the corner of Government and Claiborne streets. The finish line will be near Bienville Square.

“The Mobile Sports Authority has been a proud partner of the marathon for many years and has welcomed thousands of visitors to Mobile through this event,” said Danny Corte, executive director of the Mobile Sports Authority. “With the fine sponsor partners which the marathon committee has continually attracted, we believe the sky’s the limit for this event.”

A key attraction for many competitors is that the Mobile race is a qualifier for the famous Boston Marathon. For more information, contact O’Malley at 251-438-2094 or visit

Sports briefs

• University of South Alabama’s Gavin Patterson and Corliss Waitman are both included in the group of 30 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes chosen as candidates for the 2018 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

Patterson stands second all-time at USA in field goals (28) and points after touchdown (77), as well as fourth in scoring (161 points, second among kickers). He has also been chosen as a semifinalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, honoring the top football scholar-athlete in the nation. A first-team all-Sun Belt Conference a year ago, Patterson is an exercise science major with a 3.98 cumulative GPA. He has participated in community service endeavors on behalf of Ronald McDonald House, Special Olympics and the First Light Marathon.

Waitman, also voted first-team all-conference at punter, led the SBC last fall and was among the Top 10 nationally with a school season-record average of 45.24 yards per punt. His 43.17-yard career average is best in South’s record books. He is set to earn his undergraduate degree in communications in December. During his time as a Jaguar, he has volunteered with the Special Olympics, at the Wilmer Children’s home and with a Christmas toy drive while also speaking at a special services event.

• The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet in Mobile this month to continue discussions on a change in red snapper management that would give individual states more flexibility in establishing the length of their fishing season.

Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) Director Scott Bannon and MRD Chief Biologist Kevin Anson urge all anglers who want to see individual states manage the reef fish fishery should attend when the council meets Oct. 22-25 at the Renaissance Battle House in downtown Mobile.

The Reef Fish Committee meets at 8:30 a.m. that Tuesday to discuss Amendment 50, which deals with state management of red snapper. The segment of the council meeting Bannon and Anson highlight as the chance for the public to participate in the process is the comment period, 1:30-4:30 p.m. that Wednesday.

For more information, visit

• Former University of South Alabama women’s basketball player Chyna Ellis has signed a contract with ZKK Buducnost Bemax of the Women Adriatic Basketball Association. The team is located in Podgorica, Montenegro.

 “I worked hard to get where I am and the fact that my dreams are coming true is nothing short of a blessing,” Ellis said. “I’ve overcome obstacles and almost gave up my dream, so I’m really excited to continue playing.”

 In her four years at South, Ellis averaged 10.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while starting in 116 of 122 contests. Ellis amassed 338 blocks to become the all-time block leader in Sun Belt Conference history.