This past weekend many of you embarked on the culmination of a process that drove many including myself to tears, and not just at the finish line. Standing up before you all as you headed off to the start line I stood amazed, as I do every year, at the heart and passion it takes to pursue such a journey. This year I, for me, it was different.
Both my parents were there. My mother completing her third half marathon, my father his second. For the first time in several years my brother was absent as he has moved on to warmer climates and undoubtedly more and more running in the Sunshine State. My wife was there; not running but in support of each of you. My brother-in-law was around the whole weekend volunteering at the expo and generally helping Jacqueline and I keep our sanity.
My guess is that for many of you, you may have had similar sentiments. Tony Contakis was there not racing, rather supporting his wife, Linda, for her first full marathon. Emily and Joe Buckley were there with Emily running her first half since the birth of their son Logan. Ben and Kristen Henney were out and about running and cheering, and running and cheering! Linda Wallace cruised for 13.1 miles while her son Andrew came with an army of college buddies running both the half and full.
The Columbus Marathon has become so much more than just a marathon to me, to you and to this city. It is a representation of the passion we all have collectively coming together proving that Columbus is a city to be reckoned with. The Marathon has become a source of pride for us. It has become a means to bring families together in the most unlikely of ways.
I vividly remember the days when the "dads" of the world would lace up their shoes and head out for a run or walk leaving mom and kids behind. Over the years that transformed to the "moms" doing the same thing while the kids were at school and dad was at work. The "kids" played other sports because running was for sissys! No more! Now families are coming together to run and walk together. Younger and younger generations are rallying around the sport and are turning out in record numbers.
As I said Sunday morning, race day was about you! And, my, oh my, did you all do yourselves well! I've never witnessed such a spectacle of celebration. Nita Sweeney rocked out her second full marathon in amazing fashion! Arlette Brown walked her way to an incredible PR in the half! I've since lost count of the number of new and repeat Boston Qualifiers! Nikhil Shaw dropped and hour and 11 minutes off his previous best. The list goes on. You each had a spectacular day!
I typically make my rounds around the entire course, and that was the plan Sunday morning. However, as I made my way to the MIT tent before heading back out on the course I couldn't pull myself away from the steady stream of MITers coming through telling stories of their triumphs. You each had incredible stories to tell. Stories of chaffing. Stories of lost toe nails. Stories of crazy signs and cloud covered cheerleaders on the course. Stories of epic battles to the finish. All lumped together into the most inspiring story ever told.
Race day was about you. Race day will forever be etched in my memory and the memory of the City of Columbus. So, don't be shy. Tell your stories. Yeah, some of your co-workers and friends may be tired of your epic ramblings of race day. But maybe, just maybe you'll inspire one more to make the decision to change their life. One mile at a time.