From Start to Finish
Geist Half Marathon, Fishers YMCA Partner Up for Inaugural Spark!Fishers 5K
Writer: Josh Brown
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
If you haven’t heard by now, Spark!Fishers is coming, and it’s sure to be a jam-packed event. The inaugural Fourth of July celebration will not lack in entertainment with everything from a national concert at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater, street fair, community parade, fireworks and more.
For those looking to get their feet moving, the Spark!Fishers 5K will be right up your alley. The 5K will be organized by a dynamic duo partnership in its first year — the Geist Half Marathon and the Fishers YMCA. It’s a partnership that has both organizations excited to join together for the inaugural race.
“When we started discussing this partnership possibility, it really made a lot of sense,” says Geist Half Marathon President Mike Napariu. “The YMCA does a race in the fall, and we do our event in the spring. The Spark!Fishers 5K is right in between, so it made a lot of sense to try and work together as opposed to compete.”
“The relationship with us that was already preexisting laid the groundwork for this,” adds Fishers YMCA Executive Director Jake Reardon-McSoley. “We’ve always enjoyed helping promote the Geist Half here in our community. We had discussions early on about how we could come together and join forces for this event. It’s a perfect partnership for us.”
The 5K race will kick-off a full-day of Spark!Fishers events and festivities on June 30 and will begin at 8:00 a.m. The course is sure to be exciting for runners and bring another premier race to Fishers each year.
The Spark!Fishers 5K race course will honor the past, present and future of Fishers with the start/finish line in the heart of the Nickel Plate District in front of the Liberty Plaza statue on Municipal Dr. Runners and walkers will complete a course that flows counterclockwise from 116th Street to Lantern Road, then west on 126th Street, back through Roy G. Holland Memorial Park to conclude at the start/finish line on 116th Street in front of Liberty Plaza.
“This is a unique opportunity for runners,” Reardon-McSoley says. “They will be able to run right down the middle of 116th Street, which has never been done before. It will be a really nice way to showcase some of the immediate downtown areas of our thriving community. We will get to show off one of our marquee parks over at Holland Park, which is a great way to honor the past. There has been an intentional effort to pay some respects to our roots, to the past and all the good work that has gotten us to where we are — moving into a new, innovative future.”
“The important thing too is this race gives people another option for the year,” Napariu adds. “Runners don’t like to run just one race a year. This race will really showcase the city of Fishers and what it is becoming — a place where people want to be.”
The Geist Half Marathon and Fishers YMCA are 50/50 partners for the Spark!Fishers 5K event, which means the proceeds from the race will go back into the mission of each organization in promoting health and fitness throughout the community equally.
The partnership also means the two organizations will split the duties of the race. The Geist Half Marathon hosts its 13.1 mile, 10K and 5K race on the third Saturday of May each year, while the Fishers YMCA hosts its Wishbone 5K race on Thanksgiving morning every year. So, both organizations have plenty of experience and a solid track record on how to organize successful race events. That experience will be crucial to the success of the inaugural Spark!Fishers 5K event.
“The Fishers YMCA will handle most of the logistics and running the course, which they’ve done in the past,” Napariu says. “The Geist Half Marathon will take care of a lot of the marketing and promotion of the event. With the experience that we have, we don’t think it is an event that is going to tax either of us too much splitting the duties. We are looking forward to a great event.”
“There are probably more people than we’d like to admit that don’t even know that the Geist Half Marathon and the Fishers YMCA are nonprofit organizations,” Reardon-McSoley says. “We are able to really join together and raise a lot of money that is going right back into this community.”
Volunteers will, of course, be needed for the 5K and throughout the entire Spark!Fishers event as well. There will be more than 500 volunteer opportunities available for the Spark!Fishers event and about 55 of those positions will be solely for the 5K race.
“I serve on the volunteer community for Spark!Fishers at large, and there is a lot going on behind the scenes,” Reardon-McSoley says. “There literally is something for everyone. If you have a group of friends or co-workers that want to serve together, we have plenty of opportunities for that. Adults, students, all ages are welcome. There are a variety of shifts and most are 4-hour shifts. For the 5K, we will need people helping us at the start/finish line, people manning the water stations and lots of other opportunities.”
“Volunteers are critical,” Napariu adds. “Anyone who says they want to volunteer, we will find a spot for you. There are all sorts of opportunities, whether it is with us and the 5K or Spark!Fishers in general.”
“This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of history,” Reardon-McSoley says. “With this being the inaugural Spark!Fishers 5K, we are going to have some outstanding medals and shirts for every participant. Those will be great keepsakes for everyone to mark the occasion. This really is the turning of a chapter, and we are going to make this a very special and memorable race.”