For 15 years, the Geist Half Marathon was managed by the Geist Half Marathon board. About nine months ago, the board’s executive leadership approached the City of Fishers to explore opportunities for the city to take on the event.
“We were flattered by that. It’s a signature event, a long-standing community event here. So, we explored those conversations, and over the course of a couple months vetted it out and analyzed various things,” said Jake Reardon McSoley, director of Recreation and Wellness for the City of Fishers. “We got some plans together and were able to move forward. We are super excited to be able to take the baton and run with it.”
Early on, Reardon McSoley said city officials believed the event was something they would need a partner to pull it off at the high level they wanted it to be. So, they reached out to Vision Event Management, a running event management company, and owner Jeff Graves.
“They will be our production and event management partner, so they really are in charge of a large amount of the logistics and heavy lifting for this event,” Reardon McSoley said.
“Our role is core race production of the event,” Graves said. “This has always been a great community event, and now with the City of Fishers taking it over, I anticipate it even getting better.”
Graves and Reardon McSoley meet weekly, with a larger full-team meeting monthly, as well as sub-groups, such as volunteers, marketing, etc.
“So, there’s a lot of planning happening even now for an event that won’t be until Sept. 16 – just a lot of coordination of a lot of different things,” Reardon McSoley said.
One of the changes with the city taking on the Geist Half Marathon is moving the race date, which historically has been held in the spring.
“In our conversations with the board of the Geist Half Marathon, they shared they had gotten participant and community input over a number of years to potentially explore moving it to the fall, and they were actually strongly considering doing that before COVID happened,” Reardon McSoley said. “From the beginning, we looked at it as timing could really be beneficial for the community to move it to the fall for a few reasons. It has always sort of been the same week in the spring, which is exactly two weeks after the large 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. And that’s the largest half marathon in the state. It’s a huge draw, and rightfully so, and hard to share the spotlight of that event and made it difficult to compete with, to be honest.”
Reardon McSoley said organizers discovered that not lot of people did both events, so the city started exploring what other options might look like.
“As we looked at calendars, we started to realize, ‘Hey, the weather is really nice in the fall, the reservoir looks great in the fall,’” he said. “And from a family scheduling point of view, that May timeline is a little bit crazy for a lot of people, and the fall, come middle to (the) end of September, seems to feel a little bit calmer and it would also be a little bit better from a roadwork and construction point of view.”
In another change, the 10K race was dropped from the schedule.
“We analyzed that and what past enrollment and participation had been and national trends, and it was sort of a hot, trending distance for events. For a while there, it had cooled down,” Reardon McSoley said. “So, in the efforts of trying to do a little bit less, but at a higher or as high a quality as possible with this transition, we decided to focus on just the 5K and the half marathon.”
The course for the half marathon will stay the same, while the 5K course will be tweaked a bit.
“We have been doing a lot of study of those courses from a bigger picture point of view,” Reardon McSoley said. “We are really looking at this as an opportunity to sort of lean in to all the great things that make this a special race over the years but also reimagine it to see what it could be as we are moving forward. The 5K, we actually think there’s an opportunity to make a small adjustment that I think will actually add a lot of value to the course. There’s a new City of Fishers park coming online – Geist Waterfront Park will open in March – and we’re looking at adjusting a small portion of it that would have been an out-and-back in a neighborhood, and instead getting a chance to go into the Geist Waterfront Park and do a little bit of mileage pick up inside of that.”
Reardon McSoley and Graves are enthused about the vision the city has for the event.
“First and foremost, a safe event that is beyond the participants’ expectations when it comes to production,” Graves said. “We want to set a new standard for event experience.”
“I’m a recently retired runner – I did one a year for the last 25 years – and I am super excited to have a chance to really take this event and move it forward from a great foundation and great folks involved over the years and explore ways to make it bigger and better and take it to new heights,” Reardon McSoley said.
Registration for the 5K and half marathon is open. Pricing for the 5K is $29.99, and $59.99 for the half marathon. On April 7, the registration fee will increase to $34.99 for the 5K and $69.99 for the half marathon.
For more information and to register, visit geisthalf.com or follow Geist Marathon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.