COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and 1/2 Marathon have thousands of people excited and happy to see it making a return, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be canceled in 2020.

Columbus resident Steve Calhoun, 55, said he takes part in this marathon each year, with this Sunday’s run marking his eighth year in the event.

“I get to see the fast Kenyan and Ethiopian and American runners on the front end, and I get cheer them on as they fly by me at an unbelievable pace,” he said.

While Calhoun may not be one of the fastest runners, he said, he is one of the thousands of walkers. It takes him about six hours to walk the entire marathon, which he does while carrying 65 pounds of weight on his back.

He says the idea stemmed from reading about a group of Marines who carried a keg to a top of a mountain.

“One of them was killed in Iraq, so they were celebrating a beer by carrying a keg on top of this mountain,” Calhoun said.

Though the Columbus Marathon wouldn’t let them carry a keg, they told him and a few of his friends they could consider other options.

“So, we got a bag of coffee beans that weighed about 150 pounds and put it on an Army stretcher, got a helmet, backpacks, and the weight was to signify the weight of a fallen soldier,” Calhoun said.

For a few years, that was the routine. Now, he runs on his own with 65 pounds to continue to honor the fallen and bringing attention to the organizations they can donate to in support of veterans.

“I’ve done it for multiple organizations: Wounded Warrior, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and now the Stop Soldier Suicide,” Calhoun said.

In 2019, Calhoun raised more than $9,000 for these military-supported organizations, adding as someone who wanted to serve, this is one way he can give back.

“If I can’t serve in one way, I can certainly serve in another,” Calhoun said.

For more on Stop Soldier Suicide, click here.