Although the Ohio State football team had a bye week over the weekend, about 10,000 runners and walkers still made it into the Ohio Stadium.
The first Ohio State Four-Miler event Sunday was a celebration of “football and fitness” for participants. A portion of the event’s proceeds were donated to the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research, which contributes its funds to the Wexner Medical Center James Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Everyone who participated made history, as it was the largest inaugural race held in the state of Ohio, race director David Babner said.
“The race was unbelievable. It was an incredible celebration of football and fitness,” Babner said. “We were 10,000 strong … After they ran their four miles, they got to finish right here on the 50-yard line at Ohio Stadium. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Babner said hosting the event was important to him as a way to start a tradition connecting community members with OSU athletic teams.
“When we got the opportunity to partner with Ohio State and the Ohio State Department of Athletics and combine fitness with football, it just caught on like crazy,” Babner said. “You got a football team that is 21-0, you are able to celebrate on the same field that they play on week in and week out, and it was just an unbelievable marriage of football and fitness. I think we’ve started a tradition that you will see every fall here at Ohio Stadium.”
Former OSU football and basketball players also participated in the Four-Miler race, including former OSU basketball players J.J. Sullinger and Scoonie Penn and former OSU football players Bobby Carpenter, Dimitrious Stanley and Matt Finkes.
Finkes, a defensive lineman for OSU from 1993-96, said he enjoyed seeing people’s reactions as they finished the race.
“I was kind of standing there when people rounded the corner and headed towards the 50 (yard line), and I just saw their faces light up,” Finkes said. “It’s a special field and it’s a special place, and I think giving the fans a chance to experience it is something you don’t get every day or get at a lot of other schools.”
Finkes said he likes coming back to OSU to support cancer research.
“Anything you can do, I think, as a former player to help out and to give back is important,” Finkes said. “Obviously Urban and Shelley (Meyer) feel very passionate about cancer research and James (Cancer Hospital) is one of a kind. We are so blessed to have that here. It is important to keep awareness of the dollars that are necessary to fight cancer.”
Some OSU students participated in the race alongside the athletes.
Courtney Scherer, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering, said she participated in the race to spend time with her friends.
“It was really exciting, kind of like a social experience to run with a bunch of friends,” Scherer said.
Jenny Ledermeier, a first-year graduate student in education, said having fellow Buckeye fans running beside her helped her keep going.
“Like with any race, it’s high energy, especially at the beginning,” Ledermeier said. “Everyone is cheering you on, but in the middle of the race you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s getting a little long,’ but everyone around you is pushing you further and further, and at the end it’s so exciting to hear the big speakers and there are all these Buckeye fans hanging out. It’s a good time.”
Scherer is set to graduate in the spring, so she said seeing herself on the big screen as she came through the finish line was a good feeling.
“It’s really exciting because I haven’t seen myself on that screen since Convocation freshman year, and I get to see myself at the end of the year for graduation,” Scherer said. “It was a cool thing as a Buckeye to see yourself up there.”
The event was held with help from the OSU Department of Athletics, M3S Sports, the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, Columbus Worthington Air and IMG College. Other sponsors included 10TV, Kroger and Diamond Cellar.