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!
Johnita Anderson, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Johnita Anderson will step up to starting line of her first ½ marathon weighing 50 lbs. lighter than last year after changing her life through exercise and healthy living. Her dedication to health and fitness is contagious and she has inspired friends to exercise, stop smoking and eat better. Her daughter, one of three people who nominated Johnita for this year’s Spirit Award applauds her mom’s never ending optimism and perseverance during her good health and weight loss journey. “She has made many sacrifices to maintain on the path of this journey. My mother continually proves her dedication and commitment attending her fitness classes and running daily.” In her new chapter of life Johnita found true love and got married in September.
Barry Baker, Loudon, Tennessee
Barry Baker will participate in his first ½ marathon on when would have been his 50th wedding anniversary. After losing his wife Becky to an 18-year battle of cancer earlier this year, Barry began walking as a way to cope with his grief. He had his eyes set on commemorating Becky’s strength and spirit on the date of their anniversary at the Columbus Marathon. On Sunday, Oct. 19, Barry will be joined by family members to remember Becky and to prove her mantra, “you only fail if you don’t try.”