For more than a decade, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon has honored a group of people annually who have inspired others by their efforts to overcome obstacles or challenges to take part in our race or represented the event in a positive way.
While Spirit Award Winners were officially announced a few weeks ago, we wanted to continue to recognize these tremendous people for the impact they have on their communities and OUR race. We asked each of the winners some fun questions and found out some of their favorites so keep reading to get to know them a little better!
Molly Bookmyer, Columbus, OH – A familiar presence on the Olentangy Trail, Molly Bookmyer is a true survivor. As a collegiate athlete, Molly was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in her senior year, which ultimately led to two brain surgeries. She continued to run, but later that year suffered a seizure and required anti-seizure medications that impacted her running for the time being. After re-building her fitness, she married her husband Eric, only to learn months later that he had cancer. With Eric at her side on a bicycle, Molly continued training through his treatments, eventually winning the Cap City and Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus 1/2 Marathons and qualifying for the Olympic Trials, only to miss the race due to injury. Now working with an elite training group and training several months a year at altitude, Molly has lowered her full marathon PR to 2:32:53 and has qualified for the 2024 Olympic Trials. She continues to weather the challenges of being an elite female marathoner based in Columbus with joy, grit, and gratitude. Molly is registered to run the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus 1/2 Marathon this year as its reigning champion.
Fun facts about Molly:
Favorite Superhero: Wonder Woman because “she shows that you can still have a big heart while showing how strong and powerful you are.” It’s no wonder Molly finds inspiration in Wonder Woman—she epitomizes those character traits seamlessly herself.
Favorite part of OUR course: “The Marathon Mile Champions at every mile. They are the reason we are all out there and they provide the best motivation every mile.”
Becca Rohner and Carl Voellmecke, Columbus, OH – Becca Rohner and Carl Voellmecke, head coaches and coordinators of the Columbus Westside Running Club, have spent the past several years crafting a quiet, supportive legacy for a rapidly growing training group in Columbus. The CWRC, a free running and walking club on Columbus' west-side, offers weekly group runs and running events for all paces throughout the year. Becca and Carl are instrumental in the group's organization, infrastructure, and social media presence, and they ensure that each runner or walker is honored and valued throughout their training and racing journey. In 2022, CWRC served as a presenting sponsor for the Hilltop U.S.A. 5K, an event benefitting veterans on the Hilltop while providing an opportunity for community togetherness. The event raised more than $6,000 for veterans in 2021, and CWRC worked with sponsors to keep entry fees lower than traditional races to make the event more accessible to runners and walkers in various income brackets. True to their nature, Becca and Karl hand-delivered race numbers and t-shirts to CWRC club members, infusing the event with not only a personal touch, but the encouragement and excitement they bring to each CWRC event they host.
Fun facts about Becca and Carl:
Favorite Animal – Dogs! Both spoke of how much they love dogs because “they love you no matter what” and because they are simply the best.
Favorite Race Day Snack: Carl’s favorite is Swedish Fish
Favorite Post-Race Food: Becca rewards herself after a big race with a big breakfast that includes an extra-large coffee and French Toast. Yum!
What keeps them motivated: Both say how motivating it is to get miles in with their CWRC friends and Becca adds that it’s motivating to work towards a goal knowing how proud she will be of herself when she crosses that finish line.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the rest of the week to learn more about the rest of the 2022 Spirit Award Winners!