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Marathon masterminds

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They’re engineers and executives by day and event planners by night — and during lunch breaks and early mornings and any free time they can find in their schedules.

For the second year, three Cummins employees are leading a team working to make the Mill Race Marathon and all associated events a success.

Laura Chasse, Randy Stafford and Andy Pajakowski started planning this year’s event within weeks after Danny Fisher crossed the finish line as the winner of the first-ever marathon last September.

They’re the masterminds behind the weekend — the ones who wake up at 3:30 a.m. on race day to stock the water stops, and the ones who balance meetings with city officials and sponsors with international travel for work.

Fundraising, mapping the course and marketing — it’s all up to these three and their core team of about 15 people. The details are, too.

Their to-do lists are miles long: security, parking, medals, entertainment, snacks, keeping track of children at the Kids Fun Run, figuring out how to make sure runners don’t fall when maneuvering the railroad tracks.

They find it challenging at times, but they’re fueled by their passion and energy.

Laura Chasse

Job at Cummins: General manager, North America Bus Business

Race responsibilities: Lead coordinator

Why do you do it? I love anything to do with health and fitness. I wanted to do something that would make a positive difference in people’s lives and this was a perfect fit.

What’s your story?

Are you a longtime runner with miles of experience at races around the country or world? Or are you new to marathons and figure the Mill Race Marathon, half-marathon or 5K will be a great place to start?

If you plan to participate, we want to hear your stories, whether your motivation is to become physically fit, lose weight, recover from an illness or dedicate your run to someone important to you.

Maybe you ran the 5K last year and are aiming for the half-marathon this year. Or maybe you plan to take on the big one — the marathon.

Our stories in coming weeks will focus on runners of all ages — why they signed up, how they train and what their goals and experiences are.

To share your story, email us at

How does this fit in with your full-time job? It can be tough at times, but you have to prioritize like anything else. The planning committee is great in that we all share a passion and help each other to make sure everything is getting done.

Are you a runner? What’s your athletic background? I run some, but my passion is my gym workouts. I also enjoy golf, biking and anything outdoors.

Toughest part of race planning: Last year was that we basically had a white sheet of paper. This year, it’s much better with the experience we gained last year as well as a great race coordinator and a community that supports it 100 percent.

Best part of planning: Continuing to improve on what we’ve learned and implementing the positive changes for this year. The feedback we received from participants, volunteers, community from last year was so beneficial.

Best moment of 2013 event: Watching Danny Fisher win the inaugural race. Having someone from Columbus win was so sweet.

Most difficult moment of 2013 event: Being too tired after the race to enjoy the Finish on Fourth activities

Family: Daughter Zoe, 13.

Hobbies: Anything fitness, golf, biking and enjoying my free time

Andy Pajakowski

Job at Cummins: Global account executive

Race responsibilities: Sponsorship/fundraising, help with promotions

Why do you do it? I don’t know how to say no. It was an interesting challenge to convince sponsors to support this event and I like taking on challenges that are measurable. It has been a lot of fun engaging and working with community businesses to help put this event on. The receptiveness from businesses and the community around this event continues to motivate me to participate. I also enjoy the team that’s been assembled to put on this event. We feed off each others’ energy and we have fun working together.

Are you a runner? What’s your athletic background? I used to be a very active runner until recent knee issues have sidelined that activity. I was very active in high school sports and stay fit now by doing a lot of walking, bicycling, kayaking and hiking.

Toughest part of race planning: Carving out time in my calendar to focus on the event.

Best part of planning: Identifying sponsorship opportunities for our race sponsors that get them excited about participating in our event so we can improve this year’s race to reach more people to become active.

Best moment of 2013 event: Two moments come to mind, watching the start of the race and seeing thousands of runners go by the start line and watching Collin’s Crew help encourage him across the finish line of the half-marathon race.

Most difficult moment of 2013 event: Getting up at 3:30 a.m. the day of the race to load 5-gallon water bottles onto trucks for the water stops.

Family: Married 29 years to my wife Denise, and two boys: Drew, a recent graduate of Indiana University Kelley School of Business, and Adam, who currently attends IU.

Hobbies: Bicycling, hiking, woodworking and sand-castle building when at the beach

Randy Stafford

Job at Cummins: Technical adviser for material properties and ceramic applications for Cummins globally. Also manage four Cummins research laboratories, which investigate material properties of ceramics, post test analysis of after-treatment components, analysis of solid particulate matter and catalytic performance of after-treatment systems.

Race responsibilities: Overall coordinator of the event for Columbus Running Club. I have the final sign-off on all the decisions regarding the event. My specific detailed involvement is working with the event coordinator on course logistics/planning to ensure we have an accurate course, adequate course support and materials, course safety (police/medical) and race timing.

Why do you do it? Habit. I have been involved in planning most of the running events in Columbus for more than 20 years, so I was glad to be involved in the marathon. Having local events is one of the best ways to encourage participation and get more people involved and active. I have been partnering events with Healthy Communities for more than 10 years, so this was a natural fit to really get the community involved.

How do you fit this in with your full-time job? Requires extreme juggling of responsibilities. Finding good helpers that will take a task to completion with a minimum of direction really helps, and for both the marathon team and in my real job, I have people who are highly capable and provide incredible support.

Are you a runner? What’s your athletic background? I ran competitively in high school and college and have continued through most of my adult life. I started coaching 20 years ago and in the last 10 years have devoted more time as a coach instead of competing myself. I am a board member for Indiana USA Track & Field, Youth committee member and a have a national certification as a USA Track & Field Official.

Toughest part of planning: Staying on top of the details. This year we are changing the start and finish, so that requires re-planning some areas that cannot be done until I get the exact course changes plotted and measured.

Best part of planning: The awesome team from the marathon and city which supports the event and really works well together.

Best moment of 2013 event: Drawing the name for the raffle winner of the truck and seeing her excitement when it was announced.

Most difficult moment of 2013 event: Finding out the marathon lead runners were off course and communicating with the bikers to bring them back to the course.

Family: Married 33 years to my wife, Gayle; and two daughters: Emily, food safety auditor for Sara Lee Foods, and Mollie, design engineer for Cummins.

Hobbies: Running, walking, gardening, woodworking, coaching youth in track and field, reading science fiction. Dreaming that I get to do all these hobbies in my spare time.

Marathon schedule

Friday, Sept. 26

11 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Marathon, half-marathon and 5K packet pick-up and registration at Health Expo

11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Kids Fun Run packet pick-up and registration at The Commons

4:30 to 5:45 p.m.: Kids Fun Run packet pick-up and registration at Mill Race Park

6 p.m.: Start of Kids Fun Run at Mill Race Park

Saturday, Sept. 27

5:30 to 6:30 a.m.: Packet pick-up and registration at The Commons

6:45 a.m.: Gear check opens at The Commons

7 to 7:30 a.m.: Opening ceremony and final instructions

7:30 a.m.: Start of marathon and half marathon

8:30 a.m.: Start of the SIHO 5K

9:30 a.m.: SIHO 5K overall awards ceremony at the Finish on Fourth party stage

11:30 a.m.: SIHO 5K bicycle give-away drawing for 5K finishers at Finish on Fourth party stage (must be present to win)

11:40 a.m.: Half marathon overall awards ceremony at Finish on Fourth party stage

11:45 a.m.: Marathon overall awards ceremony at Finish on Fourth party stage

5:30 p.m.: Grand prize truck give-away drawing at Finish on Fourth party stage (must be present to win)

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