Here’s the latest forecast for fun on the run: Lighter food fare choices, robust music throughout and plenty of family and children’s activities.
It’s the fourth annual Mill Race Marathon Finish on Fourth After Party, where runners, their cheerleaders and those simply taking a step toward togetherness can exhale while getting a second wind downtown from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 24.
All amid healthy breakfast and lunch options will be daring activities such as the 25-foot stunt jump, bike giveaways and pop-rock tunes from cover bands such as the popular and local Tiptonians.
The vendor menu changes were triggered by Finish on Fourth feedback from prior year attendees.
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“People told us that they usually do not want things like heavily spiced or smoked items right after the race,” said Kurt Schwarze of 4th Street Bar & Grill in Columbus.
The festivities also feature a Cummins diesel-powered truck giveaway, courtesy of Columbus’ Bob Poynter Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Hyundai. In fact, the vehicle promo at 4 p.m. draws the biggest crowd at the gathering each year toward the end the day.
Schwarze and Steve Leach of The Garage Pub & Grill in Columbus, who coordinate the Finish on Fourth Party, estimated that crowd at 6,000 people.
Although rain sprinkled a bit last year late in the event, weather conditions have been partly sunny or better each of the first three years.
“It’s one of the last chances of the year to enjoy the (warmer) outdoors,” Schwarze said.
Since race organizers expect entrants to be about five percent greater than last year, Schwarze and Leach expect a similar increase in the Finish on Fourth crowd. Moreover, some people with no direct link to the race have begun attending the After Party.
“That first year, a lot of people like that stayed in, we were told, because they didn’t really know what to expect with traffic tie-ups,” Schwarze said. “But we have seen a slight increase in the general Columbus population coming downtown the last couple of years because they have found that, after 10 a.m., most of the road closures are done, and getting around is not bad at all.”
The organizer mentioned that the post-race gathering usually has boosted downtown eateries.
“When there’s maybe 7,000 people downtown, if you’re not seeing some of them (at your place), then maybe you’re doing something wrong,” Schwarze said.
A side benefit of the After Party has been a bit of a boost in local tourism. Schwarze said a number of out-of-town customers at his restaurant the past few years have told his staff that they returned because of a good experience at the marathon itself or the Finish on Fourth.
“This is really a good thing to allow people to take a good look at some of what Columbus is,” he said.
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 24.
WHERE: Downtown at Washington and Fourth streets.
COST: Entry to the event is free, but food and drinks will be available for purchase.
BEER AND WINE SALES: Beer and wine will be available for purchase at the Finish on Fourth After Party, but beverages cannot leave the barricades set up around Fourth and Washington streets.
RESTROOMS: Portable restrooms will be available.
MEDICAL ASSISTANCE: Call 911 or seek assistance at a medical station set up on Fourth Street between Washington and Franklin streets.
FUNDING: Johnson-Witkemper Insurance is the primary sponsor.
8 a.m.: Vendors will begin serving a variety of food as well as adult beverages.
9 a.m: Family Fun Area opens, featuring the popular stunt jump as well as Eurobungee, bounce houses, face painters and balloon animals. Small charge for Eurobungee and stunt jump.
9-11:30 a.m.: Music from Phil Pierle.
9:30 a.m.: 5K awards and 5K bike drawing
11:30 a.m.: Marathon and half-marathon awards
11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.: Music from Wayne Deaton
2:30-5 p.m.: Music from local band Tiptonians
4 p.m.: RAM truck drawing