Apparently, the Mill Race Marathon can be addictive.
This year marks the fifth Mill Race events, and at least a few runners have competed at one distance each of the first four years and plan to do so again for a fifth time in September.
Here are the stories of five Columbus residents who are training for their fifth Mill Race event:
The full spectrum
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Julie (Hotz) Brinksneader has had a taste of each of the Mill Race events. She ran the marathon in 2013, the 5K in 2014 and the half-marathon the past two years.
While doing the 5K, Brinksneader was 34 weeks pregnant and pushing her oldest child in a baby stroller.
This year, she plans to run the full marathon. It will be her eighth marathon overall.
Brinksneader ran cross-country and track at Columbus North and cross-country at University of Evansville. She does the Indianapolis mini-marathon each spring and the Monumental Marathon each fall.
Also a triathlete, Brinksneader has competed in the Columbus Challenge for several years and did the Louisville Ironman last year. But she likes competing in her hometown.
“It’s local,” Brinksneader said. “I don’t have to drive anywhere besides downtown. I can wake up a half-hour before the race and drive downtown and get to the starting line. I like running around where there’s actually people cheering for me, and they know my name.”
‘I’d hate missing it’
Every September, John Lirette’s company has its biggest safety show of the year, and he has to plan his travels around the Mill Race Marathon.
But the national field sales manager for Tingley Rubber Corp. doesn’t mind.
“Sometimes, I have to jump on a plane right after the race, and sometimes, I get to wait a day,” Lirette said. “It’s a fun race, and I’d hate missing it.”
The Louisiana native has lived in Columbus since the late 1990s. The only full marathon he has run was the first year of the Mill Race. Lirette’s wife is a Cummins employee, and with Cummins being a major sponsor, he thought if he was ever going to run a marathon and get a medal, that first year would be it.
Lirette has run the half-marathon each year since then and plans to run the half again this year.
“It gives me a goal to continue to run and train and stay healthy,” Lirette said. “Just the enthusiasm around that race, it’s local, it brings a high level of excitement around town. You see a lot of people that you know.”
Sarah McGovern has run in several marathons and half-marathons, and her experience with the Mill Race events have been some of her best.
McGovern ran the full marathon the first two years of the Mill Race and has done the half-marathon the past two years. She plans to run the half again this year.
“When the initial marathon came out, I thought I had to do it,” McGovern said. “I felt like I needed to support it, and at that time, I thought the full would be good. I’ve run marathons in a lot of different places, and this is run really well. The first year, there were a lot more spectators, but overall it’s good. The changes they’ve made to the course are good. The finish is neat.”
Now a financial advisor for Edward Jones, McGovern is a former teacher. She also was cross-country coach at Northside Middle School.
The first year of the Mill Race, her Spartans team worked the water station at the 25-mile mark, and they cheered their coach when she came through.
“That was really neat,” McGovern said. “I kind of got choked up. That is something I’ll always remember.”
Change of plans
Ashish Paliwal was hoping to make it four Mill Race Marathons in four years last fall, but an injury set him back.
Paliwal sustained a hairline fracture in his leg about a week before last year’s event. Still, he planned to run the full marathon.
After taking a painkiller, Paliwal made it through the first 12 miles before the medicine wore off. So he cut his route short and finished the half-marathon instead.
This year, Paliwal plans to get back to finishing the full marathon.
“I just want to improve my (personal) record every year,” Paliwal said. “If I can improve my time, then it gives me a kick that I’m improving my performance.”
No place like home
Mike Spock had a big September last year.
Just prior to running the Mill Race half-marathon, the Columbus North math teacher received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Technology. That is the highest award available for primary, intermediate and secondary school teachers in the country.
The former North girls soccer coach ran the full marathon first two years and the half-marathon the past two years. He plans to run the half again this year.
Like the others, Spock has run many races in many cities and towns and considers the Mill Race among the finest.
“I think they’ve put together something amazing here in Columbus,” Spock said. “It’s one of the best ones that I go to. I especially enjoy getting to run the places that I know.”