Put Yourself in the Shoes of a Runner in the Columbus Marathon

Kristen Schmidt

On Oct. 19, 18,000 people will line up along Long Street at North Bank Park. For the next 13.1 or 26.2 miles, half- and full-marathoners will experience a vast stream of thoughts, coupled with the physical pains and joys of endurance running.

To get an idea of what it's like to be out there, we talked to veteran marathoner and Columbus Marathon director Darris Blackford and Steven Devor, medical director for the Marathoner in Training program. columbusmarathon.com

1. North Bank Park is a new combination start and finish line this year. Blackford envisions a scene of hype, applause, lights and sound. "People complain they get too excited," Blackford says. "That's a complaint I can deal with."

2. As runners head east, they'll start to see elite (read: really fast) runners heading west who've already completed the loop through Bexley. "They're cheering for each other. They feel like they're in the same misery together," Blackford says.

3. Nationwide Children's Hospital patients, families and employees will create a big cheer zone for this challenging point in the race. "You're not fresh anymore, but you're not quite at the early doldrums of the teens yet," Blackford says.

4. German Village has one of the strongest neighborhood cheer sections of the entire race. Schiller Park will be lined with spectators screaming, ringing cowbells and smacking thunder sticks in the air.

5. Every mile of the race is represented by a Nationwide Children's patient-they're called champions because their strength is so inspiring. Mile 12 is dedicated to children who died in infancy. It's an emotional point in the race. "Runners center themselves and look inward. Why are they out here today? Maybe they're remembering a family member who inspired them," Blackford says.

6. As the half-marathoners finish the race, marathoners continue to the Short North, another cheering high point.

7. Marathoners run through Ohio Stadium-how many people can say they've done that? Shuttles ferry relatives and friends between the stadium, where they can sit in the stands, and the finish line so they can see their runner at least twice along the route.

8. "These are the hardest miles," Devor says. "You hit the mythical wall. If you haven't taken care of yourself with regard to hydration and food intake, it becomes much more difficult physiologically."

9. "The finish is going to be so spectacular," Blackford says. Runners will find themselves engulfed in a wall of sound from spectators. Says Devor of first-timers: "By the time you finish and have your bagel, I want you to be thinking, 'Yeah, I could do that again!' "