Hundreds of Mill Race Marathon runners picked up their numbers and then took a pace lap around the Health and Fitness Expo for a quick tuneup before today’s run.

Designed in a circular pattern in The Commons upstairs meeting space, runners and their families could play some fun games to earn swag from Anthem, get their feet checked by Indiana Podiatry Group, pick up a treatment from Columbus Acupuncture and get taped by the sports medicine staff at Columbus Regional Health.

And that was available before the runners even reached the registration and packet pickup in The Commons stage area, where volunteers were checking in competitors Friday and filling their marathon bags with shirts and instructions.

There were a couple dozen people waiting at The Commons even before it opened at 10 a.m. Friday, an indication that people were ready to get started on the events for the marathon’s fifth anniversary.

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The runners and their families come to the free Health and Fitness Expo for more than just their registration, said Chris McCord, who organizes in the event for the marathon and works in Human Resources Operations at Cummins.

“We’re also calling attention to the health aspects — there’s lots of information about walking, running, physical therapy, nutrition. You don’t have to be a runner or walker to attend — this is a health expo,” she said.

Changes to this year’s expo included moving registration for the Kids Fun Run to the downstairs lobby, to give parents and kids more room, McCord said.

Also, a different “inflatable organ” for people to walk through and learn about was featured by Columbus Regional Hospital in the center of the expo. This year’s display was the Mega Lung, a large inflated pink walk-through exhibit where information about lung diseases to tips about caring for your lungs was available.

More than a 100 people had stopped in at Mega Lung in the first two hours of the Expo, some picking up information about the hospital’s low-dose lung screenings and others learning about the new medical director for Columbus Regional Health Lung Institute, Dr. Deepankar Sharma. He is the only fellowship-trained interventional pulmonologist, said nurse manager Kimberli Johnson, who was answering questions at the exhibit.

The low-dose lung screenings, offered for $49 at the hospital, have resulted in a lot of early detection, said Sherri Lang, CRH nurse manager. “And that has led to early treatment,” she said.

Just across the aisle, members of the hospital’s physical therapy and sports medicine teams were offering free soft tissue muscle treatments and taping for runners, while handing out cooling towels to remind runners that today’s temperatures could be in the 90s for a portion of their marathon run.

Rob Andrews, a Cummins engineer, was picking up two packets, one for himself and one for his wife Laura — saying they would be running the half marathon.

“We’ve done the full and done the half, and the half is all we had time to train for this year,” he said.

The couple has been in marathon training mode for about 12 weeks, running five to six miles for each training run and going eight miles this past weekend, he said. “It should have been 12,” he said with a laugh.

Knowing how warm temperatures will be today, Andrews said the heat will likely slow them down on the course.

“But we’ll power through,” he said, laughing at the Cummins reference. An engineer, Andrews works with customers on how Cummins products may be applied to their equipment.

At the registration table for the full marathon, Cummins employees Femi Okuneye and Amanda Steward were registering runners, but pointed to fellow volunteer Jessica Oke as the person to talk to about today’s marathon.

Oke, a Cummins parts specialist, is running her first full marathon, after spending much of the day Friday volunteering at the Expo.

“I’m a little nervous with it being hot,” Oke said, while handing out shirts and marathon bags. “But I’ve trained all summer in the heat.”

When asked if seeing her competition at the registration table was helping or hurting her optimism, Oke laughed and said, “Oh, yeah I’ve got my eye on everyone.”

Some runners were pausing at the Columbus Acupuncture booth, where co-owner Alicia Utt said they were almost completely booked with appointments for treatments before the marathon.

Runners reclined on tables in the booth for their treatment, which was a general one geared toward runners, Utt said. The treatment was designed to help with blood flow while running, reduce cramping and to help with recovery after the race, she said.

At the Anthem booth, employees were handing out clapper noise makers, silly pens and jump ropes and offering a game to win prizes including water bottles, salad shakers and foldable sunglasses.

Maika Uy, 3, who was registered for Friday night’s Kids Fun Run, stepped up to the Plinko game with the help of her father Gra Uy, who is running the 5K today and mother Mildred Uy, who is cheering from the sidelines.

Maika received a salad shaker and the foldable sunglasses, much to her delight, after she dropped the Plinko button into the game and was declared a big winner.

“It’s easier to engage people to talk about health issues when we’re having some fun,” said Matt Presley, an Anthem national account executive. “This is a nice way to connect with people and interact with our members and policy holders and have some fun.”

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.