Solidarity riders mobilize to fight cancer



The 2021 Pelotonia Charity Bike Tour kicked off tonight in the Arena district, with that family atmosphere found in the cycling community that was largely lost last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I loved seeing so many of your faces on Zoom, but it’s not the same,” Doug Ulman, CEO of Pelotonia and triple cancer survivor, told the hundreds of runners and other volunteers who attended the ceremonies. opening. at Field, the newly christened home of the Columbus Crew.

“Seeing you all brings hope, it brings optimism,” he said.

Doug Ulman:With a helping hand from Pelotonia, Columbus has risen to the forefront of cancer research

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic kept the Pelotonia charity run largely an individual and virtual affair.  Not this year as hundreds of runners and other volunteers gathered for the opening ceremonies Friday night at Field in Columbus.

The 2020 pandemic has forced major changes to the annual in-person hiking weekend, making it more of a one-on-one rather than the traditional mass cycling event that since 2009 has flooded the roads of central Ohio with cyclists for hundreds of miles around Columbus.

This year Pelotonia is back on track, with packs of runners set to take to the streets tomorrow and Sunday for runs of up to 200 miles.

“It’s one of my favorite times of the year,” said former Columbus Crew player Dante Washington, a nine-year-old runner in what he called “the best team ever.” .

“Be careful, enjoy the ride and I can’t wait to be with you,” said Washington, who kicked off the festivities.

As in years past, the night looked like a sporting event mixed with a street fair. There were runners wearing purple tutus, custom T-shirts and matching cycling jerseys.

Kevin McDowell, a cancer survivor who helped Team USA win silver in the mixed triathlon relay at the Tokyo Olympics, said he jumped at the offer to be involved in Pelotonia when he learned of the race.

The crowd was loud, with calls of “Ready to roll?” And chants of “USA! USA! USA!” up when Olympic triathlete and cancer survivor Kevin McDowell took the mic to announce he would ride with them.

McDowell, who won a medal in Tokyo and received a standing ovation tonight, said he jumped at the offer to be involved in Pelotonia after learning about the event.

“I was all about it,” he said, clearly emotional. “I don’t know what to say yet. You are amazing.”

‘A carousel’:After beating cancer, Kevin McDowell gets top result in American men’s triathlon at the Olympics

He shared some advice he received when he started his battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, which he beat 10 years ago.

Don’t focus on what you can’t do, he was told. Turn it into, what can I do?

The collective response to Field tonight? We can roll.

Since its first run in 2009, the Pelotonia community has raised more than $ 225 million for innovative cancer research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State University, which includes James Cancer Hospital.

This year’s Pelotonia will follow certain protocols related to COVID-19, such as no showers for runners at the finish lines and food and drinks served to participants in place of buffets at previous events.

During rides, masks will only be required for runners who choose to start the event with a controlled start – a new option – at the John F. Wolfe Columbus Commons in downtown Columbus, and only for the start.

The runners sign a "I ride for" ahead of the Pelotonia opening ceremonies at Field in Columbus on Friday night.

A traditional start, for which masks will not be required, will begin at nearby McFerson Commons Park, with runners starting in waves based on the times and printed colors that appear on assigned credentials.

Also new this year, spectator viewing areas will be designated, with four sections on East Broad Street and a fifth on Cassady and Ruhl avenues.

During this time, cyclists can choose to ride distances of 20, 35, 50, 80, 100, 180 or 200 miles, some of which are two-day routes.

Runners pledge to collect profits based on the length of their routes, ranging from $ 1,250 for the shortest to $ 3,000 for the longest.

Runners typically fundraise from family and friends through social media and other means of communication, but some employers provide contributions or correspondence as well. Many runners organize themselves into pelotons, Pelotonia’s fundraising teams which are organized by businesses, communities, academic or social organizations or just like-minded people.

For more information on Pelotonia, visit

@ Theodore_Decker


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