Get to Know the 2022 Spirit Award Winners!

Updated: Sep 16

For more than a decade, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon has honored a group of people each year 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!


Erin Arnett, Hilliard, OH Erin, known for being inspiring, encouraging, and a link in the Columbus running community, has helped many people reach their own running goals, while crushing hers at the same time. Earlier this spring, she lost one of her close running friends, fellow Spirit Award Winner Jason Zarate. Erin helped bring the running community together to honor Jason and handled multiple media interviews while dealing with the loss herself. She plans to run the Boston Marathon in 2023 in his honor.


Fun facts about Erin:

  • Favorite dessert: Jellybeans! So, it’s no wonder that’s what she reaches for after a long race (along with a cold beer)!

  • Favorite part of OUR Race: The encore mile! It’s a mile filled with such hope!

  • How she stays motivated during training: “I am motivated by everything!” She views her faith, children, community and mental health as a gift and knows that at any moment it can be taken from her, saying, “I refuse to take for granted this gift that I’ve been given.”


Jason Zarate, Dublin, OH – Jason, at age 54, tragically passed away on May 4, 2022, after being struck by a car. He was out for a run, his favorite pastime and one that helped him overcome numerous personal trials, including losing 120 pounds. over several years. Jason specialized in Information Technology (IT) in his working career and was a small business owner/entrepreneur in Dublin, Ohio. Jason was a dedicated member of the Columbus running community and is remembered for his ongoing positive attitude and the encouragement he provided to other runners.


Erin Arnett, one of Jason’s close friends and a fellow Spirit Award Winner, shared a bit about Jason on his behalf.

  • Favorite animal: A phoenix because they rise from the ashes. Jason loved everything from Arizona, including traveling to Phoenix/Mesa, and wanted to move there.

  • Favorite part of OUR Race: The finish line. Jason felt such immense pride when crossing it, and Erin can “still see his big smile and aching run form completing the race with two thumbs up…”

  • What kept him motivated during training: His desire to prove everyone wrong--the doctors that told him he should never run or that he should get hip replacements, the naysayers that said he was too heavy, his form was too awkward, or he wouldn’t make the cutoff. He was motivated by his deep-seated desire to be better than he was yesterday.”


Please join us in remembering Jason and the impact he had on so many within the Columbus running community.


Thanks for reading about our 2022 Spirit Award winners – hopefully their stories will continue to inspire you as you tackle those last tough training runs!


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