Marathon has lasting impact on community’s overall health

The Mill Race Marathon is entering its fifth year, and during the previous four it has demonstrated positive impacts in multiple ways.

For starters, the marathon has motivated local people to adopt more active and healthier lifestyles. Testimonies of first-time 5K, half-marathon and marathon runners attest to that.

The event also has benefited the city’s profile because of the thousands of participants and spectators it attracts.

It has left a lasting mark in the community in another way, too, and that’s through the money it has raised. The Mill Race Marathon has raised $295,000, which has been split between the Healthy Communities initiative and Columbus Park Foundation.

The organizations have used the money to grow local health and wellness initiatives, creating longer-term benefits. For example:

Expansion of the city’s People Trail system, such as the Lincoln Park extension over Haw Creek.

Creation of ColumBIKE, Columbus’ bike-sharing program launched in 2016 by the Park Foundation.

Offering “double bucks” at the Columbus and Seymour farmers markets, which helps Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and meat.

Expanding school gardens at Columbus East High School, Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech High School, Parkside Elementary and Hauser Jr./Sr. High School. That’s led to some schools using produce from the school gardens to serve in their cafeterias.

Installation of a rainwater-reliant irrigation system at New Tech, which has helped students learn about engineering, sustainability and community access to fresh food.

While races such as the Mill Race Marathon establish legacies because of the success of the competitions, an equally important legacy it’s carving is an investment in health-oriented initiatives in Bartholomew County.

As long as the marathon exists and the money raised is given to organizations such as Healthy Communities and the Columbus Park Foundation, more health-focused initiatives will come. That’s something about which all residents can be happy.

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