In Celebrating 40 Years, We Thank Greg Lashutka
Greg Lashutka has made quite the footprint on Columbus, Ohio. Some in central Ohio may remember him best as Mayor of Columbus from 1992 to 2000; however, his resume boasts accolades well beyond that.
Lashutka played tight end for the Buckeyes under Coach Woody Hayes, received a law degree from Capital University Law School, served in the US Navy, and most recently was the senior vice president of corporate relations for Nationwide Insurance.
Lashutka’s commitment to strengthening the city of Columbus, including striving to “pay it forward,” began more than four decades ago with his involvement in bringing Columbus its namesake marathon.
How it all started:
Lashutka and friends Mike Van Buskirk and Bob Bell, would frequently meet for a run. Through their conversations, they acknowledged Columbus was hosting an abundance of 10k and 5k races while marathons were emerging in major cities such as Chicago, Boston and New York. The friends knew Columbus’ growing running community could support a marathon of its own.
“We knew the time was right to have a marathon in Columbus,” said Lashutka. “We wanted to use the event to promote Columbus as well as support charitable causes. So, we got to work.”
Soon, major corporate leaders Bank One and Nationwide Insurance, among others, had stepped up as sponsors. Lashutka then rallied groups of dedicated individuals and volunteers to see the race come to fruition.
Lashutka remembers a “decent” registration and a cold fall day for the inaugural race. The overall winner was Tommy Perrson, a 25-year-old from Sweden, who actually set his marathon personal best in the race in 2:11:02, a time that still stands as the course record. The top female was Karen Cosgrove, 24, from Cincinnati.
Despite not directly working with the race for a number of years, Lashutka remains an important part of its legacy. For a decade, the Lashutka Scholarship was awarded annually to central Ohio high school seniors who excelled in distance running, academics and various leadership activities. Last year, honors on his behalf shifted to the Lashutka Spirit Award, which recognizes ten individuals each year who have overcome major obstacles to run or walk in or volunteer for the event.
Forty years after inception, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon hosts more than 15,000 runners, recruits more than 3,000 volunteers and has raised approximately $8 million for Nationwide Children’s Hospital since it became the title beneficiary of the event in 2012. For that, we owe a big thanks to many people, including one stand-out individual, Greg Lashutka.