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Covering the distance: Volunteers vital to marathon success


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Pictured: Marathon volunteers at Dr. John Pawlus' dental office include Shana Brewer, left, Dana Shelton, Dr. John Pawlus, Mindy Thompson and Mallory Maguire. Andrew Laker | The Republic
Pictured: Marathon volunteers at Dr. John Pawlus' dental office include Shana Brewer, left, Dana Shelton, Dr. John Pawlus, Mindy Thompson and Mallory Maguire. Andrew Laker | The Republic


A Columbus dentist showed he knew how to use his feet when he was a kicker for the football team at Purdue.

But Dr. John Pawlus, now 49, isn’t as versed when it comes to running a marathon.

That’s OK, a self-proclaimed non-runner, he still plans to be involved when the second Mill Race Marathon kicks off Sept. 27.

Pawlus will be part of his practice’s volunteer workforce that will fill positions as course marshals.

“Basically, our office is about health and wellness, not just teeth,” Pawlus said. “And I like to see the community supporting something like this.”

Proud of his tight-knit group of employees, Pawlus said his office staff came up with the idea to volunteer together at the marathon.

“They are a fun group and I like that they take the initiative to do stuff,” he said of his staff. “So they are pulling me along. That’s great. We want to give back.”

In high school, Pawlus was a mile runner in track, but he said he never ran anything more than six miles. Over the years he has tried distance running at times, but often had issues with “old injuries.”

Those injuries won’t keep him from showing Mill Race Marathon runners the current route.

Like Pawlus, his staff members are not pounding the pavement in the mornings.

Mindy Thompson, the office’s director of administration who will be working her second-straight year as a volunteer, has a very brief running background.

What type of runner?

The Mill Race Marathon volunteers from Dr. John Pawlus office said they weren’t runners.

But if they were, what kind of runners would they be?

Mindy Thompson 37-year-old Seymour resident

“I would be a dedicated runner.”

Mallory Maguire, 27-year-old Columbus resident

“I would be a slow, right to the donuts runner.”

Shana Brewer, 37-year-old North Vernon resident

“I would be a champion. I’m just saying if I loved to run, I would conquer it.”

Dana Shelton, 38-year-old Columbus resident

“I would be a short-distance runner, at turtle speed.”

John Pawlus, a 49-year-old Columbus resident

“I would be a more natural style of runner.”

“My father, Tim Mannix of Crothersville, was a huge runner,” she said. “I started to run in my early 30s after I surprised my dad by running a midnight 5K.But it’s been about a year since I ran.”

Thompson, a 37-year-old Seymour resident, knows how tough it is to compete in half marathons and marathons so she enjoys helping to make sure the race runs smoothly.

“We volunteered last year at the finish line and this year we will help to direct people around the course,” she said.

Besides wanting to support runners, she loves supporting her patients.

“We have a huge patient base with Cummins (a major race sponsor),” he said. “And we’re very community-minded.”

Dental hygienist Mallory Maguire, a 27-year-old Columbus resident, said she simply doesn’t have time to be a runner because she has three children. However, volunteering for a day is a perfect fit.

“We always have fun together as a staff and this is a way that we try to interact with everyone.”

Shana Brewer, an expanded duties assistant, admits that she thinks running is boring. However, she knows that those who run the half-marathon and marathon go through a lot of agony to finish.

“I actually am envious of the runners,” said the 37-year-old kick-boxer.

Besides helping the runners, Brewer said it is an important event that helps the office staff create camaraderie with the community.

“We need that in our office,” she said. “And I think we all have a love of the community.”

Going back to volunteer for the second time will be Dana Shelton, a 38-year-old Columbus resident who is an expanded duties assistant.

She isn’t really sure what a course marshal is expected to do, but after working the starting line last year and getting stung by a bee, she is sure it will be less painful.

Thompson challenged her to become a runner three years ago and that didn’t take.

“I did a 5K with Mindy,” she said. “I was not good.”

That didn’t stop her from volunteering at a running event.

“I just like working with the community, seeing people do something they want to do. And working together with these guys makes it more fun. We will jump in there and direct traffic.”

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