Today is Global Running Day and what better way to celebrate than by making an international announcement!
We have selected 14 incredible Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & 1/2 Marathon ambassadors for our annual Sister City Athlete Exchange. This year, those chosen to race and represent our city will be traveling to our sister cities in Dresden, Germany; Curitiba, Brazil; and Hefei, China.
The exchange program started six years ago with athletes traveling from Columbus to Dresden and Dresden athletes traveling here. This exchange program grew and became such a success that we added two sister cities to the mix in 2015 — Hefei, China and Curitiba, Brazil.
The 2017 Dresden Marathon and Half Marathon will be held one week after our race, on October 22. The Hefei International Marathon will take place on November 12, and the Maratona Curitiba will take place on November 19.
Below are the ambassadors chosen for these events:
Daralyn Baldogo, 26
Daralyn, a marketing manager with AAA, is a Columbus native and the social media queen among her friends. This is the third year she has applied for the Dresden exchange. She ran track and cross country through middle and high school and completed her first half marathon in 2011 while attending college at OSU. A member of Columbus Eastside Running Club, Daralyn has completed seven half marathons and one full. She loves to travel and has visited twelve countries on three continents, including a stay in Brazil for a study abroad program in college. Daralyn is looking forward to making new friends in Columbus’ sister city.
Ann Fowble, 69
Ann is a retired special education teacher and administrator. She now works and volunteers to help seniors manage their monthly bill paying and make decisions about their Medicare choices. After running her first 5K at the age of 40, Ann ran 3 miles a day for ten years before deciding to take it further. She completed several half marathons in her 50s, and has completed 16 marathons in her 60s, including three Boston Marathons. Ann loves to play and listen to music, as well as bake bread, and she is looking forward to trying German bread in Dresden and possibly attending a concert at Frauenkirche.
Rebecca Fox, 29
Rebecca is an art history student at The Ohio State University, and recently took up German. Her father-in-law, an ultra-runner, signed her up for her first half marathon in 2013, and she has since completed four races. Working full time with full-time academic responsibilities has made it challenging for her to remain physically active, but running has made her stronger and helped her find balance. Rebecca is excited to explore Dresden’s rich art and culture, as well as using her German language skills.
Devon Whittaker, 57
Devon is a program manager with JPMorgan Chase. She first applied for this exchange program two years ago, at which point she had been running for a few years and volunteered for the Columbus Marathon, but never completed the race. When she learned that she did not make the team, she volunteered to host one of the Dresden runners and completed her first half marathon in Columbus that year. She hosted another runner from Dresden (Leo and Devon are pictured) and completed her second Columbus Half in 2016. She was also a Children’s Champion both years. Devon has lived abroad – in Belgium – and traveled internationally a lot, and she and her husband have hosted several exchange students from Germany and Poland. They travel and host with open hearts – learning about new places and reaching out to people to make new friends. We could not imagine a better ambassador for this program.
Stephen Wilson, 30
Stephen, a legislative relations professional with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, is politically interested and actively involved in the Columbus community. Stephen started consistently running six years ago and completed his first marathon at the Columbus Marathon in 2013. He has never been to Europe and is excited that his first trip will be to Dresden, where he is interested in learning about Dresden as a state capital. Stephen lives in German Village and loves German food and craft beer, and he is looking forward to tasting the local cuisine in Dresden.
For more information about our exchange with the Dresden Marathon and Half Marathon, visit http://www.dresdensistercity.org. Want to host an athlete from Dresden? Send a note to email@example.com.
Diane Alecusan, 33
Diane attended The Ohio State University and has lived in Columbus for 15 years. She began running in 7th grade and competed in the Columbus 1/2 Marathon in 2010. Diane works for the Ohio Housing Financing Agency and is an urban planner. Curitiba is a perfect destination for her as she is interested in discovering how Curitiba’s development as a model eco-city can translate to Columbus. Diane already considers herself an informal ambassador and is excited to add Curitiba to the list of international places she’s visited.
Chelsea Alexander, 25
Chelsea is a young, energetic nurse who moved to Columbus after college. When she’s not taking care of patients at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital, she finds time to volunteer at a free medical clinic, train for Peletonia, play sand volleyball and volunteer for Birthright. Chelsea began running 7 years ago. She is very enthusiastic, loves Columbus and has a true passion for Brazilian culture.
Kristen J. Hosni, 41
Kristen has resided in Columbus since 2008. She ran her first 5k when she was 7 years old and has been running ever since. Kristen has wanted to travel internationally since college but set dreams aside to raise her children. Besides being a mother, she is Director of Marketing at Resource International Inc. Kristen is extremely passionate, active in the Columbus community and knowledgeable about the city. Four out of five of Kristen’s brothers and sisters have been to South America and she is very excited to travel to Curitiba to join the ranks.
Maggie Gons, 37
Maggie came to Columbus in 1998 as an undergrad at The Ohio State University. After living in Kansas City, she and her husband relocated to Columbus where she works as Director of PLAY Project & Specialized Interventions at The Childhood League Center. Maggie resumed running in 2014 and is ready to take on the challenging new terrain of another country. She is passionate about Columbus and interested in the reciprocal nature of international exchange. Maggie is excited to experience Brazil’s diverse culture, inspired by charismatic fellow clinicians who just happen to be Brazilian!
William Haynes, 36
William was born just north of Columbus and is a lifelong runner. He has made being a Columbus advocate his career—creating his own ShowMeColumbus tourism business. Will is a Certified Tourism Ambassador with Experience Columbus, a photographer and writer and seeks to do his best to “shape this growing city”. After having lived on three different continents, Will speaks English, Spanish and has a working knowledge of Thai and German. He enjoys events which unite our community and is eager to represent Columbus in Hefei.
Avery Gustovich, 37
Avery was born and raised in Pataskala. A recruiter for Whole Foods Market, she describes herself as a family-oriented, carefree adventure-seeker. While she has only been running for three years, the sport has a special connection to her father who passed away just after they ran their first 5K together. Hefei will be only the second country Avery has visited—with her first being Jamaica. Active in the Columbus community and very culturally curious, Avery will make a great Columbus advocate.
Courtney Werts, 40
Courtney got her bachelor’s from The Ohio State University and is currently a stay-at-home mom while she returns to school to study early childhood education. She has been running for 20+ years and is a triathlete. Courtney is active on social media, blogging about her triathlon training and creating fun content with her children for their YouTube channel. She is interested in the lives of children abroad and in making a difference. Courtney believes the best tourists are those who are “focused on soaking up the differences they find in their fantastic destinations”.
Sandy Hugill, 46
Sandy grew up in Columbus and attended The Ohio State University. Currently she works as a management consultant. While she only started running 13 years ago, she has already completed 74 marathons and 40 half marathons. Sandy has run a marathon in all 50 states and has the goal of running marathons on all seven continents. She enjoys blogging about her experiences as a multiple marathoner. Sandy has done some significant travel in her career and believes that real diplomacy happens through small acts such as the Sister City program.
Kristian M. Hines, 49
Kristian is a graduate of The Ohio State University and holds a Master’s Degree from Ohio Dominican. She currently works for the State of Ohio as a trainer/facilitator. Kristian began running in January of 2015 to beat the winter blues and describes herself as very determined. She wants to show others a different version of a runner, representing runners of different fitness levels. Kristian is passionate about Columbus and believes that ambassadors are reflections of their city. She is excited about China because it will take her out of her comfort zone and push her boundaries while she represents Columbus and the running community in Hefei.