Memorial Day Photo Challenge

A lot of things have changed in recent months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate holidays. And one of the most memorable and important holidays of the year is right around the corner: Memorial Day! To mark the occasion, we are hosting the Memorial Day Photo Challenge on Monday, May 25.

Here’s how it works:

  • While on your Memorial Day run or walk, you can carry a flag, pose with one, or dress in patriotic gear.
  • Share your image on Instagram while tagging @cbusmarathon and @columbusrunning, or on Facebook by uploading your image to the comments section on the Memorial Day Photo Challenge post.
  • Don’t forget to like the post and follow both the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon and Columbus Running Company Facebook (@ColumbusMarathon, @ColumbusRunningCompany) and Instagram accounts.

Four random winners will receive an official Columbus Marathon hat and a $25 Visa gift card.  Winners will be notified by Wednesday, May 27.

Thank you, in advance, for helping us honor and remember those who have died during active military service.

To stay in the know about all current Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon news and information, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit our website at

**Contest rules and guidelines include:
Entries must be submitted by May 25th at 11:59 PM EST. Must be 16+ and U.S. residents to enter. Winners will be notified via DM on social media by Wednesday, May 27. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon reserves the right to modify or cancel this giveaway at its discretion.

Running Your Mental Health

Specialists at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Help Us Understand the Mental Benefits of Running and Walking

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon want you to know your BODY can help your MIND!

With the help of our trusted friends at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, we’d like to highlight mental health’s correlation to exercise and make the suggestion that mental benefits provided by a daily run or walk – especially during this pandemic – may be just as important as the physical benefits.

Mental health awareness is extremely important and is an issue we should be addressing as a community now more than ever. Challenges resulting from COVID-19 such as job loss, homeschooling, and inaccessible childcare are all triggers thought to negatively affect many individual’s mental health.

“It’s incredibly important to recognize the impacts that this current situation can have on one’s mental health. As much as we should be focusing on staying physically well, and we should, we should also ensure that we are giving proper care to our mental well-being,” said Allie DePoy, Nationwide Children’s Hospital clinical educator.

We’ve all heard of “runner’s high” as a way to describe feeling happy or relaxed after vigorous exercise. “Moderate exercise can be an excellent coping skill when experiencing intense stress or emotions,” said Gina McDowell, clinical educator for the Big Lots Behavioral Health Services at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Scientifically speaking, the brain is experiencing biochemical reactions, or endorphin release, attributed to this euphoric feeling. According to McDowell, one of the biggest mental health benefits of daily exercise is improved mood. She noted that chemicals released in the brain function similarly to antidepressants.  Additionally, regular exercise can greatly help reduce stress levels. Exercise also improves the quality of one’s sleep, leading to feeling better throughout the day.

Sounds good, right?! We’ve all felt that sense of accomplishment after reaching a new PR, or running a half or full marathon for the first time (hopefully ours!).

“Physical activity can have a positive impact on one’s self-esteem, which in turn has a positive impact on one’s mental health,” McDowell explained. “Each person’s body and experience is completely unique.  Find the physical activity that works best for you and improve your overall well-being!”

Here’s the thing, friends. If you’re feeling stressed or mentally overwhelmed during this time, know that you are not alone. We are here for you. The central Ohio running community is here for you. And most importantly, the sport of running is and will always be here for you.

Now, who’s ready for a run?

*Our Disclaimer

We ARE NOT here to attempt to diagnose you with a mental illness or suggest physical exercise as the ONLY means of coping/treating mild, moderate or severe forms of these diseases. Regardless of suggested coping tactics for such illnesses, it’s important to seek expert counsel, services and resources when needed. DePoy suggested, “Anyone who is concerned about changes in mood, sleeping/eating habits, or concentration should reach out to their physician or a licensed mental health provider.”

 If you or someone you know is in need of emergency attention, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, visit your local emergency department, or call 9-1-1.



Inspire Us Columbus

The central Ohio running community has proven to persevere through this challenging time of uncertainty. People have lost their jobs, events have been canceled, everyone’s way of life has been upturned in extraordinary ways, but there’s one thing that has remained constant. And that’s your love for running.

You have inspired us! You’re logging your miles, finding new ways to train, and most importantly, you keep going! So that’s why we have teamed up with our friends at Columbus Running Company (CRC) for a fun giveaway to say THANK YOU for your inspiration.

Here’s how it works:

From May 4-10, local runners and walkers are encouraged to share their uplifting and motivational messages during this time when we could all use a pick-me-up. Participate by sharing an image, video or story on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter while tagging @cbusmarathon and @columbusrunning and using #RallyColumbus.

Ten random winners will receive prizes from CRC with the first-place winner receiving an ASICS prize pack filled with apparel and a CRC gift card. The nine remaining posts will receive a CRC gift card. Winners will be notified by Tuesday, May 12.

So, continue to run, continue to rally, and continue to inspire us, Columbus! We look forward to hearing from you.

To stay in the know about all current NCHCM news and information, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit our website at

**Contest rules and guidelines include:
No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) entry per person. Giveaway starts on May 4 at 8:00 AM EST. Entries must be submitted by May 10th at 11:59 PM EST. Must be 16+ and U.S. residents to enter. One (1) grand prize winner will be selected from the tagged posts to receive the following prize: ASICS backpack filled with a tech shirt, shorts, and a $50 Columbus Running Company gift card. Nine (9) runner-up winners will receive $30 Columbus Running Company gift cards. Winners will be notified via DM on social media. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon reserves the right to modify or cancel this giveaway at its discretion.

Don’t Miss Us This Week!

You can connect with us on TWO separate occasions this week – the Virtual Sports Report hosted by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, as well as our weekly pre-run virtual chat Saturday morning. You don’t want to miss either opportunity! Here are the details:

Thursday, April 23, 11 a.m. EST

The third installment of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission (GCSC) Virtual Sports Report will feature our race director, Darris Blackford, as well as the founder of M3S Sports and race director for the OhioHealth Capital City Half Marathon, David Babner. These two central Ohio leaders in running will chat with Linda Logan, GSCS executive director to provide insights into Columbus’ national reputation as a top race destination, how coronavirus has shifted their plans and what the community can do to continue to train during the current stay-at-home order in Ohio.

Register for Free!

Saturday, April 27, 7:20 a.m. EST

We have been hosting virtual gatherings every Saturday to motivate, educate, and inspire folks before they head out for their run or walk. This week’s chat will comprise of an “open floor” session where the viewers control the show! We’ve invited guest panelists to address questions about running and walking as we begin our push through spring and into summer. Panelists include Eric Fruth of Columbus Running Company, Jeff Henderson of Fleet Feet, and Jen Gorham of Rogue Racers. Sign up HERE!

To stay in the know about our virtual pre-run chats, or anything related to the 2020 NCHCM, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit our website at

Weekly Virtual Pre-Run Chat: Patient Champions

Join the Columbus Marathon community every Saturday in April at 7:20 a.m. for a digital hangout before your weekend run or walk. On April 18, we will be featuring three former Patient Champions! Through a moderated discussion, they will get to share their experience as a Patient Champion and what they have been up to since then. Join us to welcome back:

  • Alli Hile – 2012 Patient Champion – Cystic Fibrosis, Hilliard, Ohio
  • Billy Chapman — 2015 Patient Champion — Legg-Clave-Perthes Disease, Columbus, Ohio
  • Kael Wilson – 2019 Patient Champion – Beta Thalassemia Major, Bexley, Ohio

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon (NCHCM) Patient Champions represent 24 of the 26 miles on the course. The other two miles include the Encore Mile honoring former marathon Patient Champions, and the Angel Mile which celebrates the lives of those who are no longer with us.

To sign up for our virtual pre-run chat with Alli, Billy and Kael, visit our Facebook event page. There, you will find all the information you’ll need to know to join in on the fun. Also plan to join us on Saturday, April 25 at 7:20 a.m. for an “open floor” Q&A session featuring guest panelists (TBA). To stay in the know about our virtual pre-run chats, or anything related to the 2020 NCHCM, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit our website at


The NEW Rules of the Run

Show us How You’re Social Distancing While Running!

The coronavirus continues to evolve in the state of Ohio, and with that comes increased mindfulness of how you’re protecting yourself and others during your runs.

So, let’s consider some new rules of etiquette! When running or walking in shared spaces such as roads, sidewalks, bike paths and trails, consider the following guidelines when you get out for your next run or walk:

  • Control your spitting: Seems to be a pretty clear rule, but sometimes it is difficult to hold back and not spit out something that gets “jogged” loose. Furthermore, many of us are spring allergy sufferers, and being outside can turn on the sinus faucet. If possible, just don’t do it. And if you absolutely must spit, be sure to stop, step away, and do so discretely and controlled.
  • NO snot rockets: Use a handkerchief or tissues. No further explanation needed.
  • Follow the six feet rule: This rule might be a little flexible if running or walking with family members, but why not practice it with everyone? That way we can get used to it and limit the possibility that we spread the virus –period.
  • Signal when passing: This isn’t just a rule for bicyclists, but also works well for faster runners or walkers passing slower ones. While you are at it, go wide when you pass in keeping with the six-feet rule.
  • Stopping to chat: Some of us are craving social interaction and we are seeing more people outside than ever before, including friends and neighbors. So, stop and talk! Just stay at least six feet apart, and if on a bike path or trail, move to the same side rather than shouting across the moving throng of people passing by. This will not only make it easier to converse, but it is safer for you and others.

We know the Columbus running community has and can continue to practice safe running etiquette, and we want to see it! Share your best social-distancing-while-running photo/video on Instagram or Twitter by tagging @cbusmarathon and using #InThisTogetherOhio and #CbusMarathon to show how we’re amplifying Gov. DeWine’s and Dr. Amy Acton’s social distancing messages. The runner with the best image or video will receive a $100 Visa gift card. The contest begins Monday, April 13 and runs until Sunday, April 19 at midnight!


If you still have questions, concerns, or need some encouragement, join the #cbusmarathon community every Saturday in April at 7:20 a.m. for a virtual pre-run (or walk) gathering. Visit our Facebook event page with all the information. We look forward to seeing you there!

*Photo credit: @add_icted_to_running


A Silver Lining

Why NOW is the Best Time to Start Running or Walking

The unprecedented coronavirus (or COVID-19) has left many Americans in a state of shock and fear. We’re facing new levels of anxiety as we try to cope with the new normal. For some, the new normal is juggling challenges never before faced: financial hardship, homeschooling, isolation. Our daily lives, as we knew them, have been interrupted by this time of war, and many of us are wondering what we can do to find that solace and engage in behavior rewarding to our mental health.

This is where exercise comes in. Perhaps one glimmer of hope is the pleasant change in weather conducive to outdoor activities, which many of our trusted health officials have strongly recommended. But with gyms, basketball courts and parks closed, running and fitness walking are great realistic, attainable physical activities that anyone can do right now.

Columbus is full of runners and walkers alike gracing the neighborhoods, bike paths and nature trails. If this is you, keep it up! And if you’re used to integrating such physical activity on a daily basis, please offer your encouragement to those new to the sport. And remember, running or walking can be for anyone of any age, size or background. Nothing is holding you back – not even COVID-19.

If you have recently started running/walking on a daily basis – or thinking about it — good for you! Here are some points to consider:

  • You don’t need a lot of gear to get started. Wear appropriate, comfortable clothing and a good pair of running/walking shoes. (Visit local running stores’ websites to browse for new apparel, if needed, and they’ll deliver!)
  • Enjoy yourself! Don’t worry about how fast or how far you go. It isn’t about training, just trying. More experienced runners and fitness walkers are notorious for tracking miles, pace, heart rate, etc., but there is no need to go down that road – if you stick with it, there will be plenty of time for that. Soon, you will begin to see and feel the benefits.
  • Speaking of feeling the benefits, physical exercise – especially outdoors – is one of the best, easiest, cost-effective ways to feel happy and relaxed. Mental health benefits are known to include stress management, a boost in brainpower, a calmer state of mind, and enhanced productivity.

Is this all starting to sound beneficial? We think so too.

If you still have questions, concerns, or need some encouragement, join the #cbusmarathon community Saturday, April 4 at 7:20 a.m. for a virtual pre-run (or walk) gathering. Chat with Race Director Darris Blackford and fellow Columbus runners before dispersing. Visit our Facebook page to find the link. Whether you’re an avid competitive marathoner, or one lacing up your running shoes for the first time, we look forward to seeing you there!


Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Extends Partnership with Nationwide

Nationwide Children’s Hospital will remain title beneficiary of the event through 2024.

The Columbus Marathon and Nationwide announced today that they have renewed their partnership for the annual running and walking event through 2024. The two organizations also announced that Nationwide Children’s Hospital will remain the title beneficiary of the event for the next five years.

When the initial three-year agreement was signed eight years ago, Nationwide gifted the naming rights of the event to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, creating the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1⁄2 Marathon. The event has raised more than $9 million for the Hospital since 2012.

“We’re excited to extend this incredible community collaboration for another five years,” said Kirt Walker, Nationwide’s Chief Executive Officer. “The partnership has exceeded expectations in terms of impact and results for our community. We’re immensely thankful for all the support given over the years, and we encourage corporate partners who aren’t yet involved to consider joining us to support this important cause.”

Other major corporate sponsors of the event since the partnership was formed include L Brands Foundation and The Dispatch Media Group. Additionally, the Columbus Marathon Board has donated $1.2 million during the last eight years.

Race participants also have the opportunity to contribute by making a voluntary gift at registration or joining the “Children’s Champion” fundraising program organized by Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Gifts from the community are also welcome.

Dan Leite, Chairman of the 11-member Marathon Board of Directors, said the decision to renew was easily made, while the length of the agreement showcases the strength and benefits that have resulted from the partnership. This is the second consecutive time the partnership has been extended for five years.

“This partnership and our event have always centered around befitting our community, as this amazing joint effort has led to an incredible level of support for Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” Leite said. “Our Board is extremely excited about our continued efforts to enable the hospital to make miracles happen for children and their families.”

“We want to thank Nationwide and the Columbus Marathon Board of Directors for their continued support of Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” said Nationwide Children’s Hospital CEO Tim Robinson. “During the past eight years this partnership has proven how engaged the runners and the community are as a whole in supporting us.”


Darris Blackford, Race Director, said specific benefits from the partnership include increased awareness for the race, which has led more businesses to provide in-kind support of products and services and their employees to volunteer as a way to “give back” to a far-reaching community- minded event.

“We are finding a high level of support as a result of partnering with an institution as important as Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” Blackford said. “Whether people are running, walking, volunteering or providing support, it is for the kids.”

Each year, each of the 24 miles of the Marathon features a patient from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. These “Patient Champions” and their families cheer on athletes and serve as a visual reminder of how the event helps ill and injured children. Additionally, children who participated as Patient Champions in previous years gather at one spot known as “the Encore Mile,” while another is “the Angel Mile” to honor children who have passed away. To learn about all the patients and ways to get involved, please visit




Reflections on 2019

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!

The 2020 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon will be Sunday, October 18. Stay connected throughout the year by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Two Course Records Set, Closest Marathon Finish Highlight 40th Anniversary Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon

Both ½ Marathon course records were broken today, along with a photo-finish in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon.

The 2019 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon featured a field of approximately 15,000 participants and, over the past eight years, has raised nearly $10 million for the hospital.

Following were highlights of the day:

  • $1.3 million and counting was raised for Nationwide Children’s Hospital during the 2019 event – closing in on $10 million raised since the partnership with the hospital started in 2012;
  • Three Americans qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, including two females in the marathon (beating the 2:45 qualifying time) and the third place male full marathon;
  • A field of approximately 15,000 participated from 45 different states and 18 countries;
  • 24 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Patient Champions and their families were along 24 miles; one mile was the Angel Mile and was dedicated to the angels of Nationwide Children’s who have already run their race; and one mile was the Encore Mile for the nearly 200 Patient Champions from previous races.

“During our 40th anniversary of the Columbus Marathon, I am proud to say we have raised nearly $10 million for Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” said Darris Blackford, Race Director.  “The success of this event and our fundraising efforts is made possible by our community members, athletes, and the friends and families of the incredible Patient Champions that line our course. We are thrilled to support the life-saving work of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”


*Qualified for the US Olympic Trials

Marathon Male

  • Sammy Rotich, Toledo, OH                                2:15:05
  • Elijah Rugut, Toledo, OH                                    2:15:05
  • *Jason Witt, Columbus, OH                               2:18:22                                                   

Marathon Female

  • Fayne Gudato, New York, NY                            2:34:29
  • Viola Bor, Toledo, OH                                        2:35:50
  • *Maria Scavuzzo, Oxford, OH                             2:37:52
  • *Clara Santucci, Lawrence, PA                           2:41:19

½ Marathon Male

  • James Ngandu, Van Wert, OH                            1:02:14
  • Dominic Korir, Columbus, OH                            1:02:17
  • E.K. Kurui, Grand Prairie, TX                               1:03:20

½ Marathon Female

  • Vicoty Chepngeno, Kenya                                  1:10:27
  • Sarah Horbol, Westlake, OH                              1:17:42
  • Sarah Biehl, Hilliard, OH                                    1:18:52

½ Marathon Wheelchair Male

  • Joey Gibbs, Ocala, FL                                         1:01:57

½ Marathon Wheelchair Female

  • Sarah Werner, Columbus, OH                            1:34:06

Marathon – Wheelchair Male

  • Steven Smith, Plover, WI                                   1:49:43
  • Chad Johnson, Corydon, IN                                2:03:54
  • Matt Davis, Bowling Green, KY                           2:05:14




  • 24 Miracle Mile Patient Champions who have shared their stories to inspire
  • 3,000 volunteers making this marathon possible
  • Approximately 15,000 athletes come from 45 states (we are only missing representation from Alaska, Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, and South Dakota (but we got North Dakota after years of missing out!)
  • Nearly 100 bands and entertainers add extra cheer
  • 25-member marathon team and 11-member marathon board of directors that have put in approximately 10,000 hours of planning
  • Approximately 60,000 people attend the Health & Fitness Expo on Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19
  • Approximately 100,000 spectators cheer on athletes on Race Day
  • Participants in the ½ Marathon range in age from 12 years of age (we have 9 registered) to 89 years of age; participants in the full range in age from 16 years old to 77 years old.
  • Participants in the full marathon hail from USA, Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, Germany, Kenya, Peru, Thailand and the UK. Participants in the ½ marathon hail from the USA, Australia, India and the Netherlands.
  • 116 elite athletes are entered in the full and the ½ marathon – 54 women and 62 men.
  • Nearly 1,000 Children’s Champions raise money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital through the event
  • 42 participants are running the race on their birthday!


  • 100,000-plus White Castle cups of water to quench thirst
  • 100,000-plus cups of Lemon-Lime Gatorade when water just doesn’t cut it
  • 14,000 bananas, 8,000 apples, 22,500 bottles of water, 12,000 peanut butter sandwich cracker 6-packs, 12,000 packets of string cheese, 18,000 Zone Perfect bars, 12,000 Haribo Halloween gummies, 13,000 cartons of Smith’s Chocolate Milk, 12,000 bagels, 12,000 goldfish crackers, 12,000 Frito-Lay chips
  • 500-plus portable bathrooms for relief
  • 20,000-plus Clif Shot energy gels to refuel (chocolate, vanilla, raspberry and citrus flavored!)
  • 96 portable generators to power the course



  • 1 Angel Mile to honor, remember and celebrate the angels of Nationwide Children’s who have already finished their race
  • 1 Encore Mile, for the patients who lined the 2012 – 2018 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon course
  • 20,000 feet of fencing (nearly 4 miles) along various parts of the course
  • 201,600-watt sound system to rev up runners at the Start Line
  • 24 White Castle “Striding Slyders” and New Albany Walking Club pace team members
  • 27 permits throughout five different police jurisdictions to close down 26.2 miles of roads
  • More than 8,000 lbs. of discarded clothes donated to Goodwill Columbus



  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital has more than 1.2 million patient visits annually and stays true to its mission of providing care regardless of the family’s ability to pay.
  • As a result of the partnership between the Columbus Marathon and Nationwide Children’s Hospital launched in 2012, more than $8.5 million has been raised to support the life-saving work of Nationwide Children’s Hospital (we could hit $10 million this year!).