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Thursday, November 1, 2018

The 109th Western & Southern Thanksgiving Day 10k

Be Beautiful.  Be Healthy. Be There!

By Julie Isphording
Thanksgiving Day Race picture of Bill Keating, Doug Huff, Paul Keating, Caroline Keating, Denis Koeninger, Liz Keating, Jonathan Bennie, Eylse Keating

I am always profoundly overwhelmed with the reality that life is all about people. Nothing else really matters - knowledge is important, as are other things - but it’s the people who make life beautiful. 
And if you want to see a lot of bold and brilliant, brave and kind, confident and strong people in Cincinnati, it’s at one of the oldest and most popular races in the United States - the 109th Western & Southern Thanksgiving Day 10k Run & Walk.
Right here in our city over 14,000 parents, children, friends, neighbors, colleagues, students - people - are touched in thousands of ways and have thousands of stories.  They all line up toe to toe, shoulder to shoulder and smile to smile to just have fun on the most thankful day of the year.
After all, as with the traditional Thanksgiving family dinner, there’s room for everyone.
“This is the legacy of Cincinnati,” said John Barrett, CEO of Western & Southern Financial Group, title sponsor of the race. “Great people who share their Thanksgiving Day morning with others. It’s a snapshot of an outstanding moment that has a lasting impact on our hearts, our families and our beautiful city.” 
Here are some of those beautiful, great people who make the race run!

Caroline Keating and her dad Bill Keating running together in 2008 in Columbus
Caroline Keating Running in Memory of Her Father
The Keating Family is Joining Her
“The Western & Southern Thanksgiving Day Race was one of the first races I remember running with my dad,” said Caroline Keating, whose father, Bill, died of brain cancer last year. “For years, Dad would get our whole family to run on Thanksgiving morning. We'd have fun, laugh and not be able to walk the next day.”
Last year, Keating couldn't bring herself to run on Thanksgiving.  “It broke my heart too much to show up without him.”
This year is different.  Keating has captivated the local running scene by qualifying and running the Boston Marathon in memory of her father. “Seeing her cross the finish line was breathtaking,” said her mom, Joan Keating.  “I will never forget it.”    
Keating is planning to get over 30 family members on that starting line.  “Whoever runs gets extra pumpkin pie. Are you in, Grandpa?”   

The 109th Thanksgiving Day 10K is about to take place.  Mike Brown, “race voice” for 10 years, conducting an interview in his own inimitable way.  He’s part of the story by event director Julie Isphording, whose article perfectly captures the event’s essence through the faces, voices and people that make the Thanksgiving Day Race Run!
Emcee Mike Brown Does All the Talking
Celebrating 15 Years of Entertaining and Inspiring Thousands
The man is exactly like no one else. Mike Brown stands on stage for three hours, braving the cold weather and brings so much razzle dazzle to the event you forget you’re running.  In his flashy Elvis-style outfit, he talks (and talks and talks) and entertains and inspires thousands of runners, walkers and fans. His warmth, sense of humor and beautiful spirit is contagious.
“It’s my favorite day of the year in Cincinnati,” said Brown. “I have the best seat in the house.  It’s amazing, close to magical.” 

Photographer Kristen Weinberg prepares for a shot.
Photographer Kristen Weinberg 
Captures the Beauty and Wonder of Thanksgiving in Cincinnati
“If you really think about it, THANKSgiving is every day in Cincinnati,” said documentary and lifestyle family photographer Kristen Weinberg, who is spending 10 weeks capturing everything beautiful about the iconic event.  “I fell in love with all the gratitude and heart that goes in to this Cincinnati tradition.  I want to tell the story through my lens.” 
Weinberg’s story is titled A Grateful Lens. “I’m visiting the charities, following some families, capturing lots of runners training on city streets and even snapping my husband buying his running shoes!” 
And on race day?  “I think my challenge will be trying to capture everything. So many people and organizations make this race so wonderful. I want to make sure I can photograph every moment.” 
You can see Weinberg’s breathtaking photos at

Oh What Fun it is to Give!
MCM CPAs & Advisors Sponsor Goodwill Coat Drive
The Goodwill Coat Drive at the start of the race continues to break national records. Thousands of people bring a warm donation - coat, gloves, hat - to the starting line of the race, and Goodwill has donation stations and volunteers ready.  
"Our community is so inherently generous," says Hyde Park resident Crystal Faulkner, a partner at MCM CPAs & Advisors, the sponsor of the Goodwill coat drive. "The coat drive is another wonderful way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day together.”
Earning a reputation as home to the largest coat donation drive in the country, the race receives an average of 5,000 pounds of donated coats and other cold weather gear each year. "The total to date is more than 100,000 pounds of donations," said Faulkner. 

Mary Southworth and family - ready to sing and run!
Opera Singer Mary Southworth to Sing National Anthem
She Can Take Your Breath Away Before You Run
In keeping with the race theme this year - Be Beautiful Cincinnati - local opera singer Mary Southworth will sing our National Anthem. Her beautiful performance will take your breath away.
The renowned Southworth has performed with the CSO, Cincinnati Opera and the May Festival. “Singing to 14,000 people with our beautiful city as a backdrop is a magical moment for me,” said Southworth, who is celebrating her seventh year singing and running in the event.  
“It’s that special time on race day when the world gets quiet, everyone takes a collective breath, and you see head-to-toe goodness,” said emcee Mike Brown, ‘race voice’ for 10 years running.  

Artwork by Holly Schapker on posters given to event participants thanks to Western & Southern Financial Group
Painter Holly Schapker Makes Our City Beautiful
Western & Southern Giving Her Illustration to Every Runner 
“I was so grateful to be a small part of this tradition,” said Schapker.  “The race is a celebration of health and happiness, and family and friends. It’s about our beautiful and colorful city.”
Schapker captured that beauty of Cincinnati in a colorful watercolor that dances off the paper.  “I wanted to capture the power of being together and moving in the same direction  - running and walking and dancing with purpose and passion through our beautiful city.”  
“We were so delighted with the painting that we wanted everyone to have a print,” said John Barrett, CEO of Western & Southern, which is donating 10,000 prints of the illustration to be handed out to race participants at packet pickup. “The community is fortunate to have so many talented artists call Cincinnati home. Holly Schapker truly captures the beauty of the city in full color, and we are honored to share her work with everyone.”

Christine Lindner and Amanda Bloomquist
Building a Healthier World One Child at a Time
Little kids know how to play and sing and dance and run.  Children know how to fly because no one told them they couldn’t.  Children love to play. Children take naps.  Children make your life wonderful…even if you don’t get much rest!
Christine Lindner and Amanda Bloomquist, co-owners of Inner Fire Fitness - a unique, holistic fitness studio - know it and love it.  They are generous sponsors of the Inner Fire Fitness Kids Run at the W & S Thanksgiving Day 10k Kids’ Run.
“We both love helping children get healthier, stronger and more confident, and we love the family atmosphere at the race,” said Lindner. “In a beautiful community known for its very active and healthy families, it seemed like the perfect fit for us.”
The Inner Fire Fitness Kids Run is a quarter mile, non-competitive loop course on Second St. for children 5 to 10 years old at 8:30 a.m.  The kids start and finish at the official start and finish line of the 10k race – just like Mom and Dad. Amanda and Christine and volunteers from St. Ursula Academy – along with proud parents – greet each child at the finish with a large customized medal.  

John Barrett, CEO of Western & Southern Financial Group (event title sponsor) and emcee Mike Brown with a happy young participant
Emergency First Responder Jen Jackson 
Saving a Life at the Finish Line
“Being part of the UC Health EMS Team at the Western & Southern Thanksgiving Day Race is an amazing experience for me,” said Jen Jackson, RN. “I love this event and feel grateful to be part of it.” 
Jackson and her UC Health EMS Team are among the most important parts of the event.  In fact, two years ago, Jackson and her team revived 55 year-old Rick Reid who suffered a heart attack at the finish line.  He was rushed to UC Medical Center by the mobile care team, where he was seen by two interventional cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeon within 30 minutes of arrival. 
“We plan for everything and we hope we need to use nothing,” said Jackson. “But when all our training comes together to save a life, we feel as if we have received a gift. It’s definitely a THANKSgiving.” 

Ronald McDonald with children participating in a past Inner Fire Kids Run
Write Your Story
The Only Thing Missing is YOUR Beautiful Story
Just imagine your whole family together on Thanksgiving Day morning - unstuffed, happy and healthy - creating your own story.
There’s plenty of time to make it beautiful.
The website has online registration, plenty of training advice and healthy tips to help you lose weight, train smart, and learn how great you can be. 
Packet pickup and additional registration is also available at JackRabbit O’Bryonville from Nov. 17-21, and race day registration is at Paul Brown Stadium.
The event has so many special charities that will benefit including Girls on the Run, Barrett Cancer Center, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Dragonfly Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and the Alzheimer’s Association. 

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