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Editorial: Mill Race Marathon reinvigorated community


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AS was demonstrated by statistics compiled from participant surveys, there are a number of benchmarks by which the success of September’s inaugural Mill Race Marathon can be measured.

Certainly 95 percent of those giving overall positive marks to the event bodes well for 2014. Equally reassuring would be the 98 percent of the respondents who said they would recommend the race to others.

Statistics such as those point to an even better turnout from the 4,105 people who participated in this year’s multifaceted program, but there are other, less scientific indicators that are more meaningful, particularly as they pertain to those who live in this community.

Purely anecdotal evidence, based entirely on observation of a small army of individuals running and walking about the streets, paths and roads of Bartholomew County in preparation for the race, suggests that this is a community that is getting healthier.

Those observations were buttressed by a handful of race participants who indicated to a reporter for The Republic recently that they intended to continue that regimen into the future.

The majority of those who participated in this year’s event do not qualify as veteran marathoners. In fact, this year’s race represented the first time many had ever attempted to complete an official full or half-marathon. But most of those who started the race finished it, and many of them are preparing to resume their practice routines in anticipation of the 2014 event.

That bodes well for the overall physical health of this community, a cause that has been championed for several years through the Healthy Communities Initiative. A marathon of this magnitude was not envisioned when the initiative was launched, but it certainly is in keeping with the overall goal.

The race has also renewed interest in organized activities designed to promote healthy lifestyles. Its primary sponsors — Cummins Inc., Columbus Regional Health and MainSource — announced in October that they would be donating $40,000 to help expand the city’s People Trails and another $40,000 to Reach Healthy Communities to increase access to local, affordable foods.

There are also a number of groups and programs that provide opportunities for people to work out in group settings such as:

Girls on the Run, an after-school running program for girls in Grades 3 to 6, which also provides lessons about healthy decision-making, goal-setting and peer relationships. Separate sessions in the fall and spring culminate with running a 5K.

There is a fee of $60, which includes T-shirt, water bottle, running journal, 5K entry fee and snacks after each practice. A sliding fee scale and scholarships are available.The program is offered at several Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. schools and St. Peter’s Lutheran School.

INFORMATION: foundationforyouth.com or Jennifer Shaver at 372-7867

Columbus Running Club is open to all runners and walkers. The group currently meets at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays at the Columbus Regional Hospital Dialysis Center before heading out on 4- or 6-mile runs. It also supports youth track clubs and organizes an annual spring Elementary School Fitness Run.

INFORMATION: runcolumbus.org

Pace for the Race is a 15-week training class to prepare walkers and runners for the April 19 Kentucky Derby Festival Half-Marathon in Louisville and May 3 Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. The program begins at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 18 at Kroot Auditorium at Columbus Regional Hospital. Cost is $55.

INFORMATION: sholtkamp@crh.org

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