Although the race is still a little more than a month away, registration for the annual Geist Half Marathon & 5K on Sept. 16 has been ongoing for about nine months.
The race, which was founded about 15 years ago, has gone through some changes in the past year. The two biggest changes are that it now is organized by the City of Fishers, and it switched from its traditional May timeframe to September.
Jake Reardon McSoley is director of recreation and wellness for the City of Fishers. He said the group that previously organized the annual race approached the city about taking it on.
“We went through some productive conversations for the better part of six months and ultimately came to a really good place,” he said. “We were able to open registration around the holidays.”
McSoley said it’s typical for longer races to open registration early. It allows participants to plan and train in the months leading up to the run.
The change from spring to fall was a strategic decision, McSoley added.
“We did quite a deep dive with the past board and learned that they actually had interest in exploring that prior to the pandemic and had heard some input from the community,” he said, noting that September works better for families. “Every month is busy, but May might be especially busy (and the) second part of May is especially busy to try to get a race done, so September felt like it might be a little cleaner.”
He said the May race date was also too close to the popular Indianapolis Mini Marathon, part of the Indy 500 Festival.
“There’s just not a lot of folks that are excited to do two mini-marathons two weeks apart,” McSoley said. “We felt like this gave us a chance to really engage a broader community.”
What has not changed for the Geist half marathon is the course. McSoley said they decided it’s pretty great as is.
“There’s more than 14 opportunities for runners and walkers to see the beautiful Geist Reservoir and get great vistas of the water,” he said. “We got a lot of great feedback that the course was awesome, just the way it was.”
The 5K course, though, will have a slight change, which McSoley said should improve the experience.
“There was a section of the 5K in the past that really was added in just to get to the correct mileage,” he said. “It was a little bit awkward in that it was in and out of sort of like a cul de sac area of a neighborhood. We were able to cut that part out, but then we were able to add in the brand-new Geist Waterfront Park.”
Both courses are USA Track and Field certified, so serious runners will be able to count them as official races, and there are some serious runners who come out for the event. But not-so-serious runners and walkers make up a large portion of participants, McSoley said.
“If you’re just there to do your first ever 5K, If you’re trying to walk it with your neighbor, if you want to participate together as a family with your young kids in a stroller, we’re excited to welcome all of those ages and abilities to the course and have fun with us,” he said.
Gavin Fisher is a Geist Half Marathon and 5K volunteer ambassador. His role is to promote the race at events and through social media. He said he’s been a runner since 2003 and has been involved with the Geist Half Marathon from its inception.
“I went to some of the original planning meetings for the Geist back in 2008 and then ran the first event,” he said. “Then here within the last three to four years, if not a little bit longer, I’ve been on the board.”
Fisher said the Geist race offers a great course.
“You cut through one of the neighborhoods along the water, so you’re getting a lot of water views and then you hit Fall Creek Road and see the water again as you go past that area over the bridge,” he said. “Then you get some golf course views as you go through another neighborhood.”
He said running through neighborhoods is nice, because there’s always something to look at along the way and residents come out to cheer on participants.
City of Fishers Community and Public Relations Assistant Director Stephanie Perry said the Geist Half Marathon & 5K is special for many reasons.
“It’s the 15th annual race, so this is a community tradition that has been around for over a decade and it’s really important to the Geist community where it started to really showcase their neighborhoods and their beautiful scenery, but it’s really become a Fishers tradition,” she said. “And being the only half-marathon in Fishers, it’s a really exciting opportunity for everyone to kind of come together. It’s not just about the runners and walkers — you have people who will come outside their house cheering others on, (and) with the addition of the Geist Waterfront Park this year, that’s a new spot that people can gather and cheer. So it’s so much community support and involvement, which is really exciting.”
More information about the Geist Half Marathon and 5K, including how to register, is online at geisthalf.com. You can also find information by searching for Geist Half on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Not a runner? You can still get involved
The City of Fishers is looking for volunteers to help with the Sept. 16 Geist Half Marathon & 5K.
City of Fishers Director of Recreation and Wellness Jake Reardon McSoley said community engagement is a big part of the event, whether participants run, hand out water or cheer from the sidelines.
“We want to help strengthen our community with this event,” he said. “If you would like to join us as a participant, great, but we also have plenty of opportunities as a volunteer. We’re looking to fill over 500 volunteer slots for the event and everything from water stations to finish line to course marshals and more.”
The city also is looking for “course talent,” which is groups or individuals who can provide encouraging entertainment along the route to keep runners and walkers motivated for the longer 13.1-mile course. That can include bands, cheerleaders, cloggers, bagpipes and more.
For volunteer information, go to geisthalf.com and scroll down to click on “volunteer.”