From KC Marathon participant to race day announcer
As a runner and a Kansas Citian, the Kansas City Marathon has always been special to me. The 2006 half was the first time I’d ever run more than 6 miles at a time. And that explains why I ran the first 10 miles at a sub-7:00 pace and then walked most of the last 5K. Two years later, the full was my second marathon, and a new PR as I ran alongside a friend and told them stories about all the landmarks we passed. And that’s what makes the Kansas City Marathon, half, 5K and Kids Marathon so special. There’s a story around every corner – whether it’s yours, your pacing partner’s or the city’s – and the route shows off the absolute best of Kansas City.
Since that first poorly strategized half in 2006, I’ve ran the half a couple more times (pacing friends along the way) and the marathon five times. Each time, I smiled at strangers and high-fived friends along the route and told anyone who would listen how it’s one of the best races in the country. In 2014, when my friends at the Kansas City Sports Commission asked me to emcee the marathon, I realized I now had the chance to tell all 10,000-plus participants and their friends how much I love this event, how much I love this city, and how much I love talking on a microphone for 7 hours.
I’ve always said that Kansas City is the perfect size: Big enough that there’s always something to do, small enough that you won’t be lost in the crowd. The marathon personifies the city: Big enough that there’s always a crowd to cheer you on, small enough that everyone looks you in the eye as you pass by.
There’s no better way to enjoy downtown, appreciate the Liberty Memorial (and making it over that hill), cruise through Westport and the Plaza, discover the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods, explore midtown and 18th and Vine, and then bring it all full circle. In a decade of loving this event, I’ve been greeted by friends along every stretch – and then kicked back with my fellow runners for beer, barbecue and stories at the finish.
The past couple years, I’ve been fortunate to cheer on participants as the emcee for the WIN for KC women’s triathlon (the most supportive, inspirational event I’ve seen), the annual Big 12 5K & 12K (where college colors and fight songs serve as a wakeup call at downtown’s biggest party) and the feel-good family fun of the Thanksgiving Day 5K at the Sprint Campus. But what I love about the Kansas City Marathon, half, 5K and Kids Marathon are your stories. From first-time marathoners to first-time visitors to KC, people are soaking up the experience. Whether you’re speeding through your personal-best or simply surviving that last mile, I get to see everyone at their best as they cross the finish line.
This year, I hope you’ll stop by the announcer’s stage and share your stories with me. Or if you know that you have a loved one approaching, help me bring them in. As I always tell spectators at events, there are no strangers along the home stretch. We cheer for everyone. And I look forward to meeting you and giving you a shout. Remember: High-fives, new friends and smiles make you run faster… or at least feel better. Have fun out there!
By Jake Jacobson, Senior PR Manager, Children’s Mercy and KC Marathon Emcee