Race Review: Columbus 10k 2021

finish line of the Columbus 10k with an arch and many flags on the sides

The Columbus 10k is fast and flat course through downtown Columbus. I ran it on September 12, 2021, and I would definitely do it again for the great energy and organization.

Here’s a recap/review of the event and my performance. It’s a nice feeling to be able to write real race reports more regularly again! (I’m so glad that I even wrote this on the day of haha).

Packet Pickup

Since it’s a 10k (6.2 miles), there’s no expo like there are for half and full marathons. There were two options for packet pickup: on race day, or before race day on Friday and Saturday at two Columbus Running Company locations (Dublin and Westerville).

I went to the Westerville location since it’s close to Sharon Woods Metro Park, where my family likes to run/walk. Columbus Running Company is a small, independent shop, so I was able to grab my bib within a couple minutes.

On race day, there were tents for packet pickup, and there didn’t seem to be any long lines. If you can come around an hour in advance, you should be able to get your bib and warm up in good time. Just try to go to the bathroom before you leave your house—there were tons of porta-potties, but the lines stretched so far down (classic runner problem on race day).

I personally liked the course; there was ample space, the roads were quiet and totally closed, and there weren’t too many turns.

three white check-in tentsa very long line of runners at the many porta-potties
The infamous porta-potty lines


The course was out-and-back in the heart of dowtown Columbus, starting and finishing at McFerson Commons Park in the Arena District. The park is is basically a long, grassy field with some trees and benches around the perimeter. A lot of running events are hosted in this area—the Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon in October also started nearby, at least when I ran it in 2019.

The course itself was relatively flat, with a total of around 130ft elevation gain. There were a couple noticeable inclines between miles 1-2 and 4-5, but they weren’t hills by any means. We ran along closed downtown roads all the way to German Village, a more residential/historic neighborhood, where we looped around Schiller Park and came back.

There were mile markers along the way and water stops at miles 1, 3, and 5. Each water stop had water at the front and Gatorade in the back.

Because of the out-and-back course, you will see the people running faster/slower on the other side of the road. This can be demotivating to some people who see the faster runners already turning back, so mentally prepare yourself if this bothers you. Depending on your pace, this may not be much of an issue (for instance, I only saw the faster runners between miles 2-3, and I actually found it motivating since I knew the turnaround point was coming up).

the Columbus skyline, viewed up-close from the Scioto Mile walking path with a runner in the distance
This path is not part of the course, but we did run close by. I took this photo on my warmup.


Since the race started at 8am on a mid-September day, the weather was pretty mild, around 70ºF. It was a tad humid, but I didn’t feel hot or cold during the race. I’m sure the weather could go either way though, so be prepared for warmer or cooler temps.


Signup was $60, which is pretty pricey but seems to be standard nowadays for 10ks. With registration, you got a technical t-shirt and a medal.

One thing that I really appreciated was how you could actually opt out of getting the t-shirt and donate $5 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The RMHC was actually a partner of the race, and each runner could decide to fundraise for them or donate money (it’s not entirely clear if any of our race fees went to RMHC). I was kind of skeptical of RMHC since they have the McDonald name (yes, like McDonald’s), but RMHC isn’t actually owned by McDonald’s; they’re just their largest corporate partner. The RMHC give families with sick children a place to stay for free while they receive treatment at nearby hospitals.

I opted out of the t-shirt since I have way too many already, but I did have some FOMO, to be honest. The shirts were navy and had a yellow drawing of the state of Ohio white outline. It was definitely one of the cuter shirts I’ve seen (but I’m going to convince myself that it’s all right since I already have a race shirt with similar colors haha).

The medal was really large and the 2021 one is actually part of a puzzle—if you run the race each year from 2020-2023, the different parts of the medal will come together and make a state of Ohio shape (there are magnets on the edges). It’s a great way to increase retention! If you missed a previous year and really want the full puzzle, you can actually buy an extra medal for around $10 on the race website.

At the actual race, there were also a few vendors giving out snacks and sports drinks. Our finisher’s bag also came with some snacks.

There were also free race photos, but they were not easily searchable, and they have a huge ugly logo in the corner. Beats paying for them though!

medal and bib of the Columbus 10k
Me running the Columbus 10k with a handful of other runners around meMe at the finish line of the Columbus 10k, looking absolutely exhausted
Looking absolutely dead at the finish LOL

COVID Precautions & Other Things to Note

COVID Precautions

This was a larger event with around 1300 runners, but I felt comfortable participating since it was outdoors and I’m fully vaccinated. There was also a virtual option.

Masks weren’t required, but the volunteers were wearing masks and they were handing out masks at the start/finish to anyone who wanted one. I took one since the start was a bit tight, but we quickly spread out and I felt safer.

To avoid too much jostling, they also had us line up by estimated pace. There were no pacers, but they had volunteers holding signs at the start to line us up in a more organized way.

selfie of me wearing a mask at the starting line with runners in the backgroundStarting arch of the Columbus 10kMcFerson Commons Park with a light yellow archway in the distance and runers dotting the field
While the start line was crowded, there was ample space in the park to spread out. 

Kid’s fun run

One thing that was super cute was the kid’s fun run that happened 20 minutes before the 10k. It looked like it was around 800m (half a mile). There were maybe 10-15 participants ranging from around ages 2-10, and everyone was clapping and cheering for them. The fun run is actually free, so definitely sign your kids up if they’re into running!

My Performance

me smiling after the race with the check-in tents in the distance
Thanks to my brother for the pic and him and my dad for coming to see me run 🙂

I finished the race in 47:41 (7:40/mi, 4:46/km). This was actually a PR by 1:19, which I was pretty excited about! (I don’t run 10ks that often since I mainly do half and full marathons; this was only my third official 10k).

Going into the race, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. My COROS APEX predicted a 49 minute 10k, but I hadn’t slept well the night before and also ran 5 miles the day before, so my legs weren’t totally fresh.

Even then, I was hoping I could at least run 49 minutes, and maybe even 48 minutes (about a 7:45 pace). I ran the first 3 miles in 7:43, 7:47, and 7:51, which put me on track for around 48 minutes. I was still feeling pretty decent at that point, so I ended up speeding up, doing the last three miles in 7:39, 7:33, and 7:33 (and the last .2 in 6:43/mi).

My race results for the Columbus 10k with my time (47:41). I was 13/92 in the F25-29 age group and 22/1323 overall

Training-wise, I actually didn’t do anything specific to the 10k, and I’d signed up for the race two days beforehand. I think what’s really helped me is doing more speedwork and upping my mileage. Because I’m running more often, I’ve also been able to do around 1 speed workout a week, which is crucial to getting faster. My mileage is actually still quite low for a marathoner (I averaged 25 mi/week in August), but it’s actually the highest it’s ever been since I used to cross-train a ton and 60 mi/month was a lot for me. I also have been trying to be careful since I’ve had a couple hamstring issues in the last year.

Because of my faster training runs, I knew I was in better shape than when I ran the Providence Marathon in May (and ran my worst time so far of 4:20). I just wasn’t sure how much better shape since I hadn’t raced since then. It feels good to have this as a baseline, and even better to finally have a race where I actually felt strong. It’s actually been 2.5 years since I’ve had a “good” race; the last was the Paris Marathon in 2019.

As long as I stay healthy (fingers crossed that I can avoid any running injuries), I’m looking forward to fall races and seeing what I can do!


If you’re interested, you can sign up for the race at Columbus10k.com. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions, and happy running!


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy