Medal Mishap

As a Race Director and a runner, it was my worst nightmare. I spend thirteen months a year doing everything I can to make this race an individually special experience for a group of 18,000 people. Further, I have a team of 20 in addition to 3,000 volunteers who put everything they can into achieving this same goal. Yesterday, our finish line was not the one I imagined. My disappointment in that is profound. My job is to oversee each and every aspect of this race, and this year, circumstances beyond my control resulted in your disappointment. For that, my team and I are truly sorry.

About 1/6th of our field did not get their medals placed around their necks at the finish of their race. Many of you were rightfully upset and wanted an explanation; to provide an explanation, I need to tell a story.

We ordered our medals in June, almost five full months ahead of the race. As most races of our size do, we had to order the medals from a company overseas. Shipping is always a challenge, but we’d ordered in the same timeframe as many years past and had no concerns.

The first week of September, however, a typhoon hit Japan and significantly delayed our medal shipment. Our medals were still due to be on US soil by October 11, and duly arrived in Long Beach, CA on October 11. They were due to be headed to Columbus that Monday, and while the timeline was close, I breathed a lengthy sigh of relief. Unfortunately, due to the backlog of shipments created by the typhoon, the medals were further held up in processing, and I faced the difficult task of preparing crisis communications that were due to go out to our participants on Saturday evening. Having to draft an email to you announcing that we would not have your finishers medals at the end of Sunday’s race was one of the hardest things I have ever faced in my professional life.

Instead, I learned late Friday evening that U.S. Customs had finally released our medals. Knowing from our vendor that there were no cargo flights available that Saturday, let alone for same day shipping, I still had my PR team prepared to launch our communications strategy; there was simply too much space between Long Beach, CA and Columbus, OH to get this done in a day. In addition, we still had an Expo to run, a start/finish area to build, and all of our usual race weekend preparations to attend to.

The man who was in charge of shipping, Allen Lam, felt personally responsible for getting these medals to us on time. Meanwhile, members of my team were also working together on my behalf – without my involvement – because they too shared the importance of the finisher’s medal. So began the epic one-day journey of your finishers medals, as Allen and a colleague picked up all 18,000 medals and started their journey from Long Beach, CA to Columbus, OH late Friday night. They worked in shifts to keep going and not lose time, with an ETA in Columbus of 6 am on race day – Sunday morning.

My team pulled together like never before, coordinating with Allen, learning geography (CA-AZ-NM-OK-MO-IL-IN-OH), getting almost hourly updates the day and night before the event. An entire team was working at high speed – but contending with speed limits and time zones – to make this right, and an entire team of volunteers was on-call to unwrap and hang these medals for you the moment they arrived, and before you reached the finish line.

Unfortunately, Allen lost some time in construction zones in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and the medals, both fortunately and unfortunately, arrived at the finish line at 9:30 a.m. What appeared chaotic and perhaps even happenstance to some onlookers was truly anything but: it was our desire to get these medals into your hands before you left that finish line. Hence the golf carts and forklifts, and in some instances, the still wrapped medals. We know that something is lost in not having the medal placed around your neck; we also know these were extraordinary circumstances.

We absolutely understand the frustration and irritation with the medal situation. We know that some of you may feel a moment was lost that can never be recaptured. For that, again, we are truly sorry and we will make sure that each person who missed their medal receives it promptly.

If needed, please email info@columbusmarathon.com with your mailing address and we will make sure that each person who wasn’t able to get their medal, will receive one.

I am so truly grateful to each of you for choosing our race, as well as your patience and grace with this situation, and I hope that you enjoyed the rest of an inspiring Race Day!

Sincerely,

Darris Blackford

Tip #26: Marathon & Half Marathon-Inspired Quotes for a Job Well Done!

As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’ll be sharing “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Whether you were the winner of the marathon or the last to cross the finish line – you all went the distance today. So, as you’re sitting in your bath of Epsom Salt and squeezing every last ounce of Biofreeze onto your weary muscles, take in some of the marathon and half marathon-inspired quotes below. Please know that by participating in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon or 1/2 Marathon, you not only made a difference in your life, but you made a difference in the lives of children who get care from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, regardless of their ability to pay. Kudos to you!

“The thirst you feel in your throat and lungs will be gone minutes after the race is over. The pain in your legs within days, but the glory of your finish will last forever.” – Unknown

“Life is for participating, not for spectating.” – Kathrine Switzer, first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry

“The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can’t dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon.” – Frank Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

“Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way. Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running.” – Julie Isphording, Columbus Marathon winner

“The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.” – Bill Bowerman, legendary University of Oregon track coach

“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” – Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist

“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine

“If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal. If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal.” – Rob de Castella, winner 1983 world marathon championships

“The marathon can humble you.” – Bill Rodgers, four-time Boston Marathon Champion

And we are humbled that you’ve chosen to participate in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon. We look forward to seeing you next year on Oct. 18th!

Tip #25: Race tips from the Board

As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’ll be sharing “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Our Board is an active board in more ways than one — between the 12 of them, they’ve completed more than 300 marathons. So we thought we’d ask the experts and find out what their best Race tips are and share them with you here!

Tip 25 - TIps from the Board

The Night Before

Lay it all out – Avoid race day anxiety and rushing around by laying out EVERYTHING you’ll need the night before.

Parking Plan – Know where you’re going and where you’re parking. Plan for it to take you at least double the time it usually would to get there. Check out the road closures here and see how you can reserve a spot ahead of time here.

Visualize – Visualize the start with a smile while everyone cheers you on, a smooth run with a calm breath and a steady pace, each neighborhood with huge crowds and funny signs, running through the pain as your training kicks in, the finish line with elation and what an awesome accomplishment! Through visualization our dreams come true.

Race Morning

Get there early! – We can’t say it enough – get there early! Avoid any unneeded race day anxiety by getting to the start line early. This will allow you some extra time should something unexpected arise (i.e. – traffic delays, long restroom lines, etc). Save your energy for the race and not a frantic run from the parking garage to the start line.

No Firsts – You shouldn’t do anything for the first time – from the food you eat to what’s on your feet: breakfast, clothes, shoes, Gatorade and Gu should already be tested.

Protein – Protein is always a good thing the morning of the race.

Stay Warm – Even with the addition of hotspots (outdoor heaters in the corrals) you can still get chilled. Use an oversized trash bag to stay warm. Take a bag and cut a hole for your head at the bottom of the bag. Once the race begins, all you have to do is throw it away!      

Race Day Experience 

Pace – Relax and don’t get too excited before and during the first few miles. Trust your training and stay true to your pace.

Take it all in – Once you arrive, take it all in, the sights, the sounds and the smells. This experience will never happen exactly this way ever again, so soak in every step. Entertainment and Patient Champions will be at every mile to keep you going. Remember, you’ve worked hard for this – enjoy it!

Post Race

Celebrate – Congratulations! You have crossed the finish line and completed an amazing feat. Regardless of distance, pace and records, it is time to reward yourself and Celebration is the perfect place to do so. Reunite with friends and family, shake out our legs, visit the vendors, feast on food from local food trucks, enjoy live entertainment and remember to hit that PR Gong!

Recover – Check out Dr. Darrin Bright’s tips on how to recover appropriately here.

Meet this year’s Spirit Award Winners

On October 19, there will be 18,000 people with 18,000 stories to share about why they are running or walking the course’s 13.1/26.2 miles. Some will be achieving a life-long fitness goal, some will be retaining tradition by running the Columbus Marathon for the 35th time and thousands of others will celebrate the triumph of mind, body and spirit that has come through training for this year’s race. 

Since 2007, the Columbus Marathon and ½ Marathon has recognized individuals who have overcome major obstacles while training. The Spirit Award is given to those whose strength; dedication and perseverance motivate us, inspire us and oftentimes, moves us to joyful tears.

Though there are 18,000 stories to share, we will share those of this year’s Spirit Award winners in our blog through the weeks leading up to the race. If you see them at the race, give them a high five!


Guy Margiotta, Hilliard, OH

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This Sunday, Guy will walk the ½ Marathon in honor of his daughter, Sophia Rose.  Sophia Rose was 12 years old when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and died three days after the diagnosis.  Guy and his wife, Missi, became involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Team-in-Training program and have made it their crusade to raise money for blood cancer research. Guy’s optimism and spirit to find a cure for blood cancer has inspired the group, Sophia’s Stars, a group of 13 members who will participate in this year’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon to honor Sophia and raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma.



Bill Reed, Louisville, Kentucky

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The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon will bring Bill one stride closer to his goal. This Sunday, Bill will be running his 48th marathon, making him just two races away from his goal of 50. Bill has been running in marathons for more than 30 years, including qualifying for the Boston Marathon 15 times and participating five times. However his course over the past 30 years has not been smooth. After dealing with back surgery, Bill also was diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2011. While this made reaching his goal more difficult, he refused to let it keep him from his love of running. Bill plans to complete his 50th race in his hometown of Louisville.


Jenness Sigman, Bellbrook, Ohio

with jeanne

last day at NCH

For 20-time marathon participant Jenness, running has always been a part of her life, however, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon has taken on a new meaning for her. Jenness was forced to put running on hold after her son, Payne, was in a horrible car accident.  Payne suffered major brain trauma and required extensive rehabilitation at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, during which, Jenness stayed at the Ronald McDonald House to attend Payne’s daily therapy sessions. Jenness and her family have focused on giving back by donating the “Play for Payne” funds their community raised for them to a local fire department and through numerous contributions to the Nationwide Rehab unit. They will continue to support Nationwide Children’s this Sunday when Jenness and others will be running with Payne’s name on their backs in honor of Payne and the care he received.

Tip 24: Know the Inclement Weather Policy

As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’ll be sharing “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Our friend and weatherman extraordinaire, Marshall McPeek, gave us a recap of race-day weather since 2002 – can you believe that in all those years we have only had ONE day with a trace amount of rain?

So far Sunday’s forecast is looking pretty good, but in the event of less than desirable weather, you should know the inclement weather policy.

Tip 24 - weather

Inclement Weather Policy

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon puts the safety of its participants, spectators, staff and volunteers first. Dangerous weather conditions pose a unique challenge to an event the size of a Marathon or half Marathon. Therefore we have adopted the following Inclement Weather Policy:

Weather forecasts will be monitored prior to the event, with special attention placed on the possibility of heavy rain, thunder and lightning, high winds and extreme temperatures. If necessary, athletes will be made aware of these conditions and possible dangers which could result on the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon website (www.columbusmarathon.com), as well as through other means of communication such as e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and public address announcements.

The Race Director and Medical Director, in consultation with law enforcement, fire/EMS and other officials, will monitor the weather and make a decision if any action will be taken to modify the race. Possible changes include: Altering the start time or in extreme situations, cancellation of the event. Visible lightning will cause the race to be postponed for a minimum of 30 minutes. Additional sightings will continue to delay the race in 30-minute increments.

If extremely high heat and humidity is predicted, extra water will be provided to the athletes, both prior to, during and after the event. The medical team will be alerted that athletes may require additional medical attention during and after the event due to these conditions. If it is felt that it is unsafe for participants to start the race due to severe temperatures and humidity, the race may be cancelled.​

Race personnel reserve the right to delay, cancel, or suspend the race due to inclement weather. Participants must abandon the race if ordered to do so by the race personnel, medical staff, fire or police personnel.

Tip #23: What to Wear on Race Day

As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’ll be sharing “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. 

If you don’t already have your race day outfit planned, this tip is for you! Tricia Haff, Second Sole’s fashionista, apparel buyer, footwear specialist and experienced marathoner, provides some insight on what you should be sporting on the course. This tip isn’t just about looking good because your wardrobe should be the last thing affecting your performance!

Tip 23 - what to wear

With two days to go until race day, I am sure the butterflies are starting to build. Thoughts of doubt and anxiety are starting to slowly creep in and you’re officially in race day preparation mode. While your mind may be full of these types of thoughts, one thing that we here at Second Sole want to ensure is that you don’t need to fear not being properly prepared with clothing, shoes, nutrition and the other necessary running accessories—we’ve got you covered!

When it comes to race day, make sure you dress in layers. With that being said, make sure they are layers that are easily removable and disposable. Race day morning is going to be chilly, but once that gun goes off, your adrenaline is going to be pumping and you’re going to heat up quickly. We highly recommend covering up in old pieces that you are willing to part with (note: Goodwill Columbus will be selling used clothing at their booth at the Expo – so be sure to support this wonderful non-profit and get yourself some clothes you won’t mind discarding on Race morning). For easy removal, consider oversized items and cutting a slit at the neck line. Likewise, consider investing in a cheap pair of “throw away” gloves; your hands and winter wardrobe will thank you! This will allow for you to stay warm at the starting line, but also allow for easy removal and guilt free disposal once out on the course.

Next, let’s cover footwear. I hope by now everyone has their shoes that they are going to be racing in. However, I am sure there are a few athletes out there waiting so that they have a fresh pair of race day shoes. Let just say, save yourself the extra stress and wear the shoes you’ve been running in! No new shoes on race day! While it may be the same shoe you have run in for years now, manufactures do mess up every now and then and defects do exist. Don’t play the odds and run in a new pair of shoes.

Now that you’ve got your layers figured out and new shoes ready, lastly make sure that you have all of the nutritional products that you will need and your race day outfit is ready to go. Now is not the time to try out new nutritional products or a new outfit—use what you have had success with throughout training. Twenty six point two miles is a long way to go when you’ve got nutritional products upsetting your stomach or that new pair of really awesome shorts is starting to feel not-so- awesome.

Finally, if you get to the starting line and realize that you forgot something, do not panic! Come visit us at the Second Sole Race Day store that will be located next to the starting line. We will be stocked with last-minute gloves, energy gels, body glide, hats, socks and anything else essential that you may have forgotten. This is your race day that you have spent many long months, hours and miles preparing for — go out and enjoy it! You’ve worked hard and we here at Second Sole want to wish each and every one of you the best of luck and want you to know that we will be there for your last minute needs, motivation and support!

Tip #22: Race Day Road Closings

As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’ll be sharing “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Tip 22 - Road closings

We want your race day experience to be as stress-free as possible, that’s why today’s tip is know the road closings. As you make your way down to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon, make sure to take into account the below streets that won’t be accessible. (Also, check out where to park from Tip #17.):

  • Long St. between High St. to the East and Hocking St. to the West will close at 9:30 a.m. On Friday, Oct. 17
  • Spring St. will be closed from West St. to the east, and Hocking St. to the west at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17
  • Neil Ave. will be closed from Nationwide Blvd. on the north to the combined Start/Finish Line to the south.

On Sunday Oct. 19, 26.2 miles of the marathon course will be subject to rolling street closures, based upon the expected time the first and last athlete passes each mile of the course.  Spring Street, Long Street and Neil Ave. will open back up to traffic at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19.

View maps of the course here and check out when the race will be going through each neighborhood here.

Tip #21: Expo Info

As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’ll be sharing “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

One of the final steps to prepare for race day is your visit to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Expo. Today’s tip has all you need to know about the expo.

Tip 21 - Expo Info

The 2014 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Health & Fitness Expo will take place on Friday, Oct. 17 from noon to 7 pm and Saturday, Oct. 18 from 9 am to 7 pm at the Battelle Grand Ballroom at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, 400 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43215. The Expo will feature more than 100 health and fitness related booths, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon merchandise and race packet pickup.

NOTE: There will be NO Race Day packet pickup; all race packets must be picked up during Expo hours. If you cannot pick up your race packet, you can have someone pick it up for you — but that person must have a copy of your ID, as well as their own picture ID.

Expo Parking: Parking will be a flat fee of $5 and will be available at any Convention Center Lot. Convention Center parking lots can be viewed here.

Marathon Groupie Photo Challenge

It may sound cheesy, but from athletes to spectators to volunteers, everyone who participates in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon is one big family. We love how our community bands together and supports each other through this amazing journey. This year, we’re celebrating that strong bond by inviting you to participate in our “Marathon Groupie” photo challenge!

Based on the new group selfie trend called “groupies” (anyone remember Ellen’s photo at the Oscars?), we’re asking both athletes, volunteers AND spectators to get into groups and snap photos all throughout race day. Excitement, nervousness, sweat, adrenaline, signs, and of course, medals are all necessary pieces of the race day experience – and we want to see it through your eyes! To help you get started, we’ve created “Groupie Goals” (think photo scavenger hunt!) with fun things to take a groupie with. The Groupie Goals are:

Photo Challenge (2)

Joining in on the fun is simple. All you have to do is gather a group, snap a photo, and post it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CMGroupie. And remember to get creative!

We’ll share your groupies throughout the race – so you may see you and your friends on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! We’re looking forward to seeing your photos.

Good luck to everyone joining us on race day!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates and photos!

Tip 20: Know the Rules for Registration Packet Pickup

As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’ll be sharing “26 Tips for 26.2 Miles” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

The devil is in the details, that’s why today’s tip is Know the Rules For Registration Packet Pickup!

Tip 20 - Packet Pickup

Please take careful note of our Packet Pickup rules:

  • There is NO Race Day packet pickup. Participants or their proxies must pick up their race numbers at the Expo, taking place on Friday, October 17 and Saturday, October 18. Race packets will not be mailed to participants prior to the race.
  • Need someone else to pickup your packet for you? To pick up a race number for someone else, a person must have a copy of the other person’s ID, as well as their own picture ID. There will be a table outside the main entrance to the Expo with a large sign that reads, “PICKING UP FOR OTHERS?  START HERE.” You will need to fill out a brief form providing contact information, and once both IDs are approved, the form will receive a stamp. You will then proceed to packet pickup with the approved form. You will not need to present your ID or the copy of the other person’s ID again.
  • Registration packets CANNOT be mailed in advance.

Current Registrants

Feel free to double-check your registration here.