When David Venable neared his 40th birthday, he struggled with elevated cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure.
“According to my wife, I was a little bit chubby,” he said with a laugh.
Though he disagreed with her assessment, he wanted to do something significant. He signed up for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon.
He did not know where or how to begin training, so he asked co-workers at Cummins Inc. After the Mini, he ran a marathon.
Then the Boston Marathon. Six times. Then a full Ironman triathlon, including a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
“It has changed my life,” Venable said.
At 51, his blood work shows him to be in peak physical condition. His resting heart rate is 46, far below the normal range of 60 to 100.
His athletic ardor has led him to encourage, inspire and teach others how to run farther and faster. He even has written a book, “Boston Bound,” to help people improve their times and qualify for the Boston Marathon.
“I’ve got this energy ... to help other runners achieve their goals,” he said. “Just talking about running makes me excited.”
About two years ago, an idea began circulating: Wouldn’t it be cool if Columbus hosted a marathon?
Discussions began in earnest late last year, when Venable took his idea to Cummins co-worker and fellow fitness fanatic Laura Chassé.
Chassé, 42, said her interest in fitness began in her early 20s. These days, she swims, golfs, bikes, spins, lifts and runs for the physical benefits as much as her psyche.
She participated in the 2010 Foundation for Youth Sprint Triathlon and has run two half-marathons.
“I just like to be active,” she said.
Chassé, who has worked for Cummins for more than 17 years, said she and Venable approached others in the fitness community to get their input about the marathon and presented the idea to Dave Crompton, vice president for Cummins’ Midrange Engine Business.
“He was all for it,” Venable said.
The idea fit in well with Cummins’ increasing awareness and promotion of wellness.
“In the last few years it’s really become a major focus,” Chassé said.
The company has supported smoking cessation and wellness classes, provided coaches to help employees deal with health issues, has offered training, injury prevention and nutrition resources and installed more fitness equipment in Cummins facilities.
“We’re hoping this event will be a catalyst that will promote more awareness of a healthy lifestyle for (the) community as a whole,” Venable said.
Chassé said setting goals, such as participating in a public race, and peer pressure from training in a group can help people stay focused despite their numerous day-to-day activities.
“You need to make time for yourself,” she said. “You only get one shot to take care of this body.”
A team of nearly 20 local athletes has been trying to figure out how Columbus can host an event with a projected 4,000 participants, Chassé said.
Organizers have to work out everything from encouraging and coordinating volunteers to traffic, insurance and how many water stops to have along the route.
“We’ve gotten a ton of people saying, ‘I want to help,’” Chassé said.
And, she said, the enthusiasm extends far beyond Cummins into city government, tourism leaders, Columbus Regional Health and the community as a whole.
Chassé and Venable said they hope some of the company’s executive leaders will participate. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Linebarger, for example, is a runner.
Venable said he and Cummins have some experience putting together sporting events and have enjoyed some success in raising money for a good cause.
Through Cummins, Venable has participated twice in the Death Valley Race, which involves six athletes running 135 miles in 115 degree weather. Venable said the team completed the race in 22 hours and, over four years, the company raised $80,000 to fight cancer.
“I lost my mother to cancer,” Venable said. “It was personal.”
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.