Change can be good. Mill Race Marathon organizers are following that idea as they make improvements for the second installment of the huge community event.
So far, all the changes planned sound positive.
Overall, the inaugural event last year was well received by the roughly 4,100 finishing participants and 15,000 spectators. The organizers and about 850 volunteers — many of whom missed the marathon because of race-day responsibilities — put in countless hours to make sure the event went as smoothly as possible.
Feedback was almost entirely positive, so organizers could have kept using last year’s event as the template.
But they weren’t satisfied and wanted to get better. That’s a great sign for the health of the event, planned for Sept. 26 and 27 this year.
One of the biggest changes is placing a greater emphasis on getting youth and non-runners involved. That fits well with community efforts to encourage children and adults to become more active and develop healthy lifestyles.
Healthy Communities has been trying to effect long-term policy changes with organizations and companies that improve the health of students and employees. For example, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. has removed deep fryers from its schools.
Organizers want more middle- and high-school students to participate in the 5-kilometer run, which they see as a feeder into the half and full marathons. They’re offering a $300 incentive to the school that has the most participants in the Kids Fun Run or the 5K race.
The race should also feel more inclusive. Organizers are not intentionally recruiting top-flight runners from Kenya or Ethiopia. Instead, they are hoping to attract new local runners, such as those who sign up for Columbus Running Club’s 17-week training session for beginners.
Organizers thought some aspects of last year’s event didn’t work as well as planned and have made adjustments.
For example, a new start and finish line on Washington Street will feed runners runners directly into the heart of the post-marathon party. By keeping the start and finish off Jackson and Brown streets, motorists will have easier access to parking garages and lots.
The truck giveaway will be later in the day, providing an incentive for participants to stay longer.
A children’s area outside of kidscommons downtown will be bigger.
The Health Expo and packet pickup will be one day instead of two, in order to concentrate more people downtown on a single day.
Also, the Mill Race Marathon has a new race director in Joel Sauer, a new logo and a revamped website, millracemarathon.com.
This might seem like a lot of changes in one year. But when they are aimed at improving the experiences of runners and spectators, that’s a healthy sign.