With the 2017 Run For Home just a few short days away, we at GoRunIt thought it would be an excellent time to sit down with the man in charge, Matt Ritzert. The Run For Home is the premiere race in our area, and has raised thousands of dollars for Habitat for Humanity in Tuscarawas County. We asked Matt a handful of questions about his experience organizing the local half marathon, and we hope you enjoy his answers!
Answers may be paraphrased and do not represent direct quotes from Matt Ritzert
Question One: What was it that made you want to start up Run For Home Half Marathon and Relay?
A group of us knew that there were several 5k’s in the area, but we wanted to do something different, and put together a longer race. After meeting with Karen Williams and Jessica Kopowitz, we decided that we wanted to put a half marathon together , which could serve as a premiere local race, in Tuscarwas County.
Question Two: How did Run For Home come together with Union Hospital and Habitat for Humanity?
The three of us (Karen, Jessica, and Matt) felt a strong belief in the work Habitat performs, but we knew we would need a lot of help. Therefore, we called Kerry Gardner at Union Hospital for help, and he has been a great help since the very first year.
Question Three: What has been the most difficult and and rewarding experience of being a part of Run For Home?
The most difficult part is coordinating the event. Not only the volunteers, but also cooperation of all the different areas of government and other groups within the community. The most rewarding experience of being involved in the now weekend event is the money that is continually raised for Habitat, which so far has totaled $185,000 in the first nine years.
Question Four: With this being the tenth anniversary of Run For Home, where would you like to see the race moving forward?
First off, we would like to continue to look into adding more events to the weekend, as there are many people looking to run other races than the half marathon. Currently we have 375 people signed up for the 10k. Outside of those things, we hope to continue to grow the participation in the race and who knows maybe one day look at different routes.
Question Five: What do you wish you knew back when you started Run For Home that you know now?
Probably all the coordinating and planning that it takes. There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that make the race a success that many people never see.
Question Six: What would your advice be to people who are looking into creating a race or getting into race directing?
It takes time to plan! You cannot just simply throw a race together. Be unique: try something new and try to stand out. Finally, ask other runners in the community for help and get them to be on your planning boards.