COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Approximately 12,000 runners ran more than 209,000 combined miles Sunday in the 2023 Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon.
For the last 12 years, Nationwide Children’s Hospital has sponsored the marathon as a celebration for a special group of children – kids who are receiving or have received treatment from the hospital and are called Children’s Champions.
Columbus Marathon Director Darris Blackford said more than $1 million was raised for the hospital with Sunday’s race, totaling more than $13 million over the last 12 years.
“It’s astounding,” Blackford said. “You know, the fact that people care so much about Nationwide Children’s Hospital, as they’ll see today with the kids out there, their money’s going to a good place.”
During the race, at every mile marker, there’s a poster of one of those Children’s Champions, including Greyson Mich, 7, at mile 22. Greyson received lifesaving heart surgery at the hospital when he was just six months old.
“(My wife) Jackie noticed that he was moving slower compared to other kids his age and went in for a second opinion,” Brad Mich, Greyson’s father, said. “Luckily she did. That’s when she caught it. Ten days later, we were sent down to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for lifesaving surgery.”
Now, Greyson is a healthy child who loves golf.
Each Children’s Champion gets to decorate their mile with a theme; Greyson and his brother Julian chose Halloween, one of their favorite holidays.
“I like all the scary stuff,” Greyson said.
The brothers also have their costumes figured out.
“Police officer and a robber,” Julian said.
Throughout the morning, it was cold and windy, and while many bundled up, the runners embraced the cold.
James Ngandu was the winner of this year’s half-marathon with an unofficial time of 1:03:27, his fifth straight Columbus half-marathon win.
“It’s good to run in and, like, the weather is perfect, you know?” Ngandu said. “When it’s a bit cold, I mean, everybody can do it, you know?”
Zach Kreft, 23, of Sunbury, won the marathon, finishing with a time of 2:18:07.
“You know, once you’re out there, you’re running for a lot more than yourself, you know?” Kreft said. “Running for my buddy, my family, my previous teammates, and stuff like that.”
Sunday also happened to mark Kreft’s first competitive marathon.
Shannon Smith of Flagstaff, Arizona, finished second in the marathon with a time of 2:36:43, qualifying her for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Damaris Areba, from Kenya, won the women’s division with a time of 2:34:38.