Happy Half Marathon hoping for biggest race ever in August

Springfield race will start and finish downtown

The Happy Half Marathon began in 2012 as a way to raise money for cancer research and honor the memory of Mike Maloney, who died at 52 of cancer in 2011.

Mike’s grandson Oscar Maloney, who was 6 at the time, drew a picture of his grandpa, and that became the logo for the race. Mike has a huge smile in the caricature, so it was a natural choice to name the race the “Happy Half.”

Over the years, the race has lived up its name by creating many happy runners, and it will continue to do so in 2021 with a new course that spotlights downtown Springfield.

Instead of its typical point-to-point race from Springfield High School to Yellow Springs, the 10th Happy Half Marathon, which will take place Aug. 14, will start and finish downtown. It begins at the corner of High Street and South Fountain Avenue at 7 a.m. and ends on Main Street near the Madonna of the Trail statue.

“We began working with the City of Springfield in December of 2020 to come up with a plan,” the race directors wrote on the Happy Half website. “Together, we created multiple iterations of what our course could look like until we finally landed on one that works for everyone. We wanted to showcase the history of Springfield that we grew up learning about as well as the exciting things that are going on in town. Our goal from the start of this project has been to be an asset to our community. We want to host an event that the entire city can rally around and that runners from out of town can’t wait to travel to.”

On the 13.1-mile course, runners will see the Westcott House, Cliff Park, Wittenberg University, the Ridgewood neighborhood and Springfield High School, while also completing miles on the two segments of Springfield’s bike trails: the Buck Creek Trail and the Simon Kenton Trail.

Mike Maloney’s sons, Adam and Alex, organized the race for the fourth straight year along with their cousin Chris Meister.

“It started as a family run when we were training for Columbus Marathon,” Adam said. “My brother and my cousins were training for Columbus, and they ran the original course in 2010.”

Alex Loehrer was the race director for the early years of the event. The Maloneys and Meister were always involved in the race and took it over four years ago.

As of Thursday, there were 190 runners signed up for the event, and more than 300 are expected to participate. They will get to enjoy a pancake breakfast at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company after the race and celebrate with unique finisher’s medals handcrafted by local glass artist Doug Frates.

Runners can register on the race’s website. Maloney expects the largest turnout in race history. It would help raise the fundraising total, which has reached $35,000 in the last four years alone.

“It all goes to Springfield Regional Cancer Center,” Adam said. “That’s where (Mike Maloney) had his treatment, and he loved the people there, They liked him. He would just walk across the street from work at W.R. Hackett, get his treatment and then go back to work in the afternoon. They’ve been great working with us and are really appreciative of us having the race.”

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