When more than 30,000 runners take part in the Marine Corps Marathon Sunday, Oct. 28, in Washington, D.C., the experience will be particularly special for two participants.
Marble Cliff resident Ken Frick, 64, and his son, Kevin, 24, will run the race together.
Kevin Frick, who was a captain of the Grandview Heights High School cross-country and track teams and a three-year captain of the Wittenberg University cross-country team, has dedicated himself since graduating from college to running marathons.
He ran in last year's Columbus Marathon and his strong finish last spring in the Toledo Marathon qualified him for next year's Boston Marathon.
Ken Frick ran a marathon only once, 13 years ago, but what happened that day perhaps planted the seed for their upcoming experience.
"I ran the Columbus Marathon as kind of a bucket-list item," he said. "Kevin was 11 and he ran the last few miles with me. It was such a great feeling to see him running next to me."
A few years later, while visiting the North Carolina site where the Wright Brothers made their first successful flights, father and son raced along the 800-foot length of the brothers' longest flight on that historic day.
"Kevin beat me by a head," Ken Frick said.
"It was kind of special, the first time beating your father at something," Kevin Frick said.
Since then, the pair have participated together in the annual five-mile Columbus Turkey Trot, and for the past few years, have made a Christmas-morning run together.
They have been talking about running a more-formal race together for about a decade, Ken Frick said.
"Last year, when Kevin ran the Columbus Marathon, I ran the half-marathon as a test," he said. "I ran well enough that it told me I could run a full marathon this year if I started training for it."
When they signed up to run in the Marine Corps Marathon, "I assumed I'd run my race and Kevin would run his," Ken Frick said.
"I told him I was going to run with him the whole way," Kevin Frick said. "Then, after that race, I'll start training hard for the Boston Marathon."
"I'll set a pace that Kevin will follow, or he'll set a pack that I can follow," Ken Frick said.
The Marine Marathon starting line is located between the Pentagon and Arlington National Ceremony. The finish line is at the Iwo Jima memorial outside Arlington Cemetery.
"Along the way we'll be running past the Capitol and the Mall and a lot of the monuments," Kevin Frick said. "It should be a spectacular setting for a marathon."
The course is mostly flat, but participants must finish the race running uphill toward the Iwo Jima memorial, Ken Frick said.
"What else would you expect from the Marines?" Kevin Frick asked.
Now living in Springfield, Kevin teaches high school social studies and serves as the cross-country and track coach at Wittenberg.
"It's a lot of fun because I ran with some of the same guys who are still on the team," he said. "It's cool to be coaching at my alma mater."
Kevin Frick said he became interested in running marathons after graduating from college, "because I was looking to continue to challenge myself."
Participating in the Boston Marathon "is a great thrill, because you have to earn your way into it," he said. "It's one of the most prestigious races in the world."
He said he will continue to challenge himself.
"I want to try and get involved in the Ironman Triathlon," Kevin Frick said.
Ken Frick describes himself as a casual runner.
"Kevin looks at a race as a competition," he said. "I look at it as a goal."
Training for the Marine Corps Marathon has put him in better shape, he said, but the real reward will be running the 26.2 miles with his son.
A photographer, he said he plans to carry a small camera with him during the marathon and take photos as he and his son run the route.
"Ten or 20 years from now, I'll have the pictures in a scrapbook and will be able to look at them as a reminder of what we accomplished together," Ken Frick said.