Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Race Director Darris Blackford offers his insights on the 40th anniversary event.
Not only was this a big anniversary year for our Marathon, but it also marked my 10th race as Director.
Each of those 10 events had stand-out moments, things that went very well and things we could improve with fixes to the next year’s race. This year was no different, but I am always relieved when the “right” outweighs the need to fix!
Last Sunday, a lot of things went very right, because of the hard work of many people.
*My Team of 25, plus an expanded race-weekend crew: Throughout the year, there are 25 key individuals working with me on different areas of the race, and we add to the list for the crunch work done on race weekend. They are specialists, focused on specific things; I work with them to pull it all together in a timeline that merges at 7:30 a.m. on the third Sunday of October, bolstered by our community’s collective energy and the thrilling first chords of Thunderstruck.
* The 11-member Board of Directors: These men and women are unsung heroes, not seeking praise or recognition, but make the decisions that result in our event being what it is. They are runners and walkers, which helps make the event so use-friendly for all of our participants.
* 3,000 volunteers: Honestly, they don’t show up, we don’t have a race. But show up they do, some all 40 years! There is not a single aspect of this event that doesn’t involve volunteer support – they deserve a ton of praise and thanks!
* Hundreds of law enforcement and safety personnel from across the region: We don’t know everything that they do when it comes to keeping thousands of people safe and secure at such a large-scale event. I am deeply thankful for the men and women putting it on the line so we can all do this each year.
* The team of folks we work with at Nationwide Children’s Hospital: This partnership, launched in 2012, has gone beyond anything anyone envisioned, and that isn’t just in reference to the millions of dollars raised for the Hospital. The race is now a community event, not just something for a bunch of crazy runners and walkers!
* Residents in communities along the course, and others affected by the closing of streets and all the hoopla we bring forth when the Marathon comes to town: It is a fun event, sure, but also causes traffic tie-ups, noise, and other challenges. We are thankful to have the privilege of holding this event, and appreciative of the patience shown by those who are affected.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the families and the kids from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, along with all the spectators, and even your families and friends who stayed home but support your efforts to run or walk in the race.
People often tell me, “I love your race.” But it is much more than me. It is mine, yours, OURS.
All the best – see you next year!