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!


Todd Lustig

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It runs in the Lustig family. After watching his son Robbie complete his first ½ marathon (as a 2013 Spirit Award Recipient at that), Todd decided to follow in his son’s footsteps and start training for the 2014 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus ½ Marathon. With his wife of 30 years, Joan, battling ovarian cancer, running soon became a coping mechanism as well as a stride towards a healthier lifestyle. Todd hoped to run the October race with his wife on the sidelines, but on August 10, 2014, Joan lost her battle with cancer. While this has been an extremely difficult time for Todd and the entire Lustig family, he continues to train and will be running the 13.1 mile race in October in memory of his wife and her brave battle with cancer.



Elizabeth Smith

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The 2014 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon holds a very special meaning to Elizabeth; it marks the 1-year anniversary of her diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer, as well as her return to the first marathon she ever ran. Elizabeth, a non-smoker, is an experienced marathoner who refused to let her diagnosis stop her or break her spirit. As soon as she was capable, Elizabeth got back to running after a very aggressive course of treatment. She wasn’t running as she had before, but she was running and that’s all the mattered. Come race day, Elizabeth’s friends will join her on the course, as she has been an inspiration to them all.


Fred Girscht

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The course for Fred Girscht has been paved with many obstacles, but it is his perseverance and determination that made him the perfect candidate for a 2014 Spirit Award. After years of diabetic complications, which lead to kidney failure and dialysis, and a kidney and pancreas transplant, Fred decided to start training for his first half marathon in 2009. Since, Fred has run several half and full marathons, and equally as important, Fred has become a very active promoter of organ transplantation. In 2013, he ran the New York City marathon representing the Kris Klug foundation. When he is not running himself, Fred can be found volunteering, supporting other runners and promoting running within his own family. This year, Fred’s two son-in-laws will be running the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus ½ Marathon right there with him.

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