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Locals Race Around Ohio for Fun and Fundraising

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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If you’ve got a “bucket list” of things to do in Central Ohio, then perhaps you should consider crossing off some of those items by participating in the annual Race Around Ohio event. The event consists of multiple competing teams who navigate the region to complete tasks and raise money for charity in the process. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, July 24th, and while it’s too late to register to participate this year, you can still donate and consider signing up for next year’s event.

We recently spoke with event coordinator J. Scott Elder, to find out more about this unique event.

Q: Tell us a bit about the event itself, and what got the whole idea started?

A: Race Around Ohio started in 2006 when my friend, Mark Yandrick – a huge fan of The Amazing Race – created a day-long event for our group of friends similar to the famous CBS reality show. Five teams of two individuals raced around the Central Ohio region collecting clues to their next destination. In order to earn clues, teams complete challenges which are physical or mental in nature, sometimes a combination of the two. There are a few pit stops where teams are bunched up and have a moment to rest up for the next leg. Each year it’s grown in different ways and this year we’ve stretched to have 13 teams. This year’s race takes place July 24th beginning at 8am and will likely last until 6 or 7pm.

Q: What sort of activities do the teams participate in?

A: We’ve had so many great challenges it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few! Thanks to partnerships with some great local businesses, charities, farms and other sites we’ve had teams visit some really obscure places and perform many off-the-wall challenges. Past challenges include:

  • gathering a shopping list of food items at the Clintonville Farmer’s Market and delivering them to the Clintonville/Beechwold Community Resource Center (Clintonville)
  • choosing to either spin alpaca yarn or scoop a bucket full of alpaca poo @ Bluebird Hills Farm (Springfield)
  • counting the number of steps in a section of the Olentangy Indian Caverns (Delaware)
  • finishing an exhaustive photo scavenger hunt (Yellow Springs)
  • purchasing and delivering JoAnn Fabrics gift cards for Newborns in Need, who was knitting blankets for underprivileged babies (Newark)
  • finding 1 of 5 fake roses hidden in the main section of the rose garden @ the Park of Roses (Clintonville)
  • getting through an abandoned, pitch black farmhouse at Butternut Farm and Wildcat Sanctuary (Johnstown)
  • writing and reciting a haiku on stage at the Cedarville Opera House (Cedarville)

Q: Tell us a bit about the charitable component of the event.

A: In 2007, we chose to make an impact on our community and add a charity component to the race. We allowed the winners of the 2006 race to choose a charity for whom we would fundraise. Teams paid a small race entry fee and also had to raise a specific amount of money for the charity chosen by the previous year’s winners. We’ve kept that tradition going ever since and have raised money for charities like Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Columbus Cancer Clinic. Personally, I have been a race participant for the last 4 years. Last year, my race partner, Matt Miner, and I won and chose The American Heart Association as our charity due to family histories of heart disease, my recent career change to nursing and our the inspiring example of our friend, Courtney, who was born with a congenital heart defect. We both switched to the planning team, Matt as the main creative genius and me as the charity/publicity coordinator. We’ve employed several tools in order to really raise the bar for fundraising. We’ve begun using an online donation website, developed a brand new race website thanks to racer and web guru Josh Fitzgerald, capitalized on social media like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about the race and embarked on a great partnership with The American Heart Association. We’re still taking donations via our website. Tax deductible donations to The American Heart Association can be made on behalf of individual teams to help them earn a chance at a raffle for a head-start from one of the pit stops.

Q: For anyone interested in participating in the race next year, what do they need to do?

A: Right now, we’re still trying to figure that part out. It’s an event that’s grown in a very organic way with great success and we want to see that continue. We rely heavily on volunteers to help staff the race and make it great for the participants. This year, we want to get the community involved and welcome people to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll be announcing various locations and challenges via those tools during the race this Saturday so people can come watch teams make their way through the route, perform challenges and especially rally them in to the finish line. Next year, we’ll see…

For more information, visit www.racearoundohio.com.


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