The third race of the 2023 Season of the RUNColumbus Race Series is the Chilly Chili Mile—a one-mile road race supporting Healthy New Albany. Linda Romanoff serves as the race director.
How did you become a race director? I became involved in the New Albany Walking Classic 18 years ago as a participant and then began coordinating many aspects of the event, such as the expo and packet pick-up. When the founder and race director, Dr. Phil Heit, retired, I became the director of the country’s largest walking-only race.
What’s the greatest challenge you face in your role? The Walking Classic has the same challenges as any running race. Especially with COVID mostly behind us, we continue to be challenged with having our registrations on par with those before COVID. Among the major challenges are getting volunteers, obtaining race giveaways at the same level as in the past, marketing, and dealing with the increased cost of putting on an event.
What’s the greatest reward? Watching our participants cross the finish line with expressions of joy and accomplishment is a reward I cannot put into words. The Walking Classic is conducted like any running race, as participants can do the Walk for health and/or competition.
Besides signing up for your race, how can runners support and encourage race organizers? A simple “thank you” is the easiest way to show support. Coordinating all aspects of a race is multifaceted, and participants have no idea how many details are necessary to conduct an event on the scale of the Walking Classic. Showing an appreciation for our many volunteers would be extremely helpful.
Is there anything else you want people to know? The New Albany Walking Classic has spurned several additional races, such as the Chilly Chili Mile, Mother’s Day 5k, and the New Albany Kids Marathon. Perhaps even more importantly, the Walk led to the creation of Healthy New Albany, which is a nationally-recognized model of wellness in partnership with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. As 100 percent of all the Walk and other races’ profits are donated to our non-profit, Healthy New Albany, we created a 54,000 sq. ft. facility that was made possible by the City of New Albany and the New Albany Company. Because of our races, we are changing and saving lives.