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THERE is little doubt that this weekend’s Mill Race Marathon will have a lasting effect on the community. The event will serve to showcase Columbus to thousands of participants from outside the city.
The numbers speak for themselves. As of the close of online reservations Friday, 4,130 individuals had registered for one of the three events — the full marathon, the half-marathon and the 5K.
Participants will come from all over the country. At least 35 states will be represented. There is even a global flavor to the event. Eight countries will be represented (including the United States), and there will be at least three elite international competitors, two from Ethiopia and one from Kenya.
The boost to the local economy will be tremendous. Many of those competitors from outside Bartholomew County will be accompanied by relatives and friends. They will spend tens of thousands of dollars in Columbus for lodging, food, other necessities and gifts.
While those numbers are impressive, it is important that another statistic not be overlooked. It speaks to the well-being of this community now and into the future.
Of the 4,130 entrants (that number will grow as people will be able to register at the event itself), at least 1,923 are from Columbus. Another 104 are from the neighboring Bartholomew County communities of Hope, Taylorsville, Elizabethtown and Hartsville.
The benefit to the overall community is not the money that these individuals will spend but what their participation says about the physical health of Bartholomew County. For the majority of these local individuals, the marathon is not a competitive event but a participatory one.
Their involvement speaks to the success of long-standing community projects, such as those launched by Healthy Communities Initiative that have fostered a variety of activities centered on physical exercise.
Evidence of the marathon’s success has been showcased for several months now as witnessed by the dramatic increase in walkers, joggers and runners who can be seen on city streets prepping for Saturday’s events.
Many of those going through this preparation phase have simply continued routines they have followed for years, but there have also been a significant number of people who have adopted this new lifestyle because of the marathon.
When it is over, it is likely that some of these will revert to former habits, but the potential certainly exists that many will make exercise an important part of their everyday lives.
The benefits to the individuals who choose to continue this process will have a ripple effect, helping their families and loved ones as well.
It can also serve as an inspiration for others to literally follow in their footsteps.
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