Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
With Buckeye pride running through many Ohio marathon runners, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon will now route through the Ohio Stadium.
Runners will enter along the same ramp Ohio State football players use and run along the edge of the stadium before exiting via the ramp that OSU opponents use. Runners will not touch the grass, said race director Darris Blackford.
“When you turn down that ramp where the players go and you see that stadium, it is a nice moment,” Blackford said.
The new route will take about 7,000 runners through the stadium in October. Blackford said runners will hit the stadium at 17.5 miles, well after half-marathon runners have completed.
“We knew we couldn’t put 18,000 people in that stadium,” Blackford said. “Safety is so critical for an event like this.”
A little more than halfway through the marathon, runners are more spread out and pace leaders keep runners organized, Blackford said. By the time they reach the stadium, the spread will keep things orderly going through the stadium.
Blackford said those 7,000 will be in for a treat.
Back in September, he had a chance to run through the stadium along the same route the marathon will take. Upon entering the stadium, he said he felt a little sentimental.
“I didn’t cry or anything, but I choked up,” Blackford said.
Kristen Ricker, a third-year in exercise science, is running in her first marathon and said she thinks the route change is a great addition to the event.
The marathon has gotten a lot of emails from people who decided to participate due to Ohio Stadium’s inclusion. Entering the stadium will be the moment runners remember for a long time, Blackford said.
Being an Ohio native and living in Columbus for 20 years, Blackford said he always thought Ohio Stadium was “such an awesome place.”
His passion for this aspect of the race stems from his history with the stadium and Columbus. When he was in high school, Blackford said he would come down to Ohio Stadium to watch the high school football championships.
“I’ve wanted this for a long time,” Blackford said. He described the new stadium route as a “dream come true.”