For decades, Cincinnati’s Heart Mini Marathon & Walk has encouraged people to get out and raise money for the American Heart Association. The Heart Mini, considered to be the region’s largest fundraising event, takes place March 9-10 this year downtown. We spoke with Alex Carson, senior director of the Heart Mini, about the event and what makes it so special.

What is the Heart Mini?

The Heart Mini-Marathon & Walk presented by Medpace and Mercy Health is Greater Cincinnati’s largest fundraising event and hometown favorite of over 40 years! Twenty-six-thousand-plus registrants come together to participate in a heart-healthy exercise and raise lifesaving funds to help the American Heart Association fight the No. 1 and No. 5 killers—heart disease and stroke. 

This two-day event has something for every activity level and age including the Half Marathon, 15k race, 5k race, 2k kid’s race, 5k heart walk, 1k Steps for Stroke and Health & Fitness Expo, which includes a Kid’s Fun Run.

How many years has Cincinnati hosted the event?

Forty-two years running! Our namesake—the 15k Heart Mini race—is the 42-year-old event. Varied run/walk events have since been added to the weekend-long celebration to allow greater options for our elite runners as well as those taking their first steps toward heart health. 

What can people find at the Heart Mini Health & Fitness Expo?

There is so much to see and do at the expo on Saturday, March 9! From free health screenings to the inflatable Kid’s Zone to discounts on running gear, this is truly a family-friendly event. From 9 a.m.-5 p.m., participant race packets can be picked up after visiting the many booths—anything from health coaching to learning the vital skill of hands-only CPR.

Do you have a favorite part or aspect of the weekend?

My favorite part of the weekend is on Sunday at about 9:15 a.m. at Fifth and Sycamore. Our avid runners are trickling back into downtown from their morning runs and the masses are arriving to line up for the 5K run and walk. It is also the start of our 1k Steps for Stroke event, which celebrates our stroke survivors and their families. For me, it’s personal as my mother suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on the day I was born. We all have a personal “why”—a connection to heart disease and stroke. Watching her walk alongside longtime survivors and those taking their literal first steps in their rehabilitative journey surrounded by family, friends and doctors—it is moving to say the least.

Why should someone participate?

Do it for you and your personal “why”—your connection to heart disease and stroke. One small step toward ownership of your heart health can yield years to your life, meaning more moments with friends and family. No step or donation is too small. Over $6 million in AHA funding is currently invested at local research institutions over the lifespan of active grants. Community advocacy and programming like hands-only CPR in schools, T21, Check.Change.Control. blood pressure monitoring and more are saving lives right here, right now. Yet, there is so much more work to be done to take the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of all Americans down a notch. Together—with the masses—your participation and donation will accelerate the mission of AHA: to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

The feeling of being among 26,000-plus heart and stroke heroes running and walking to advance the mission of the AHA is something you’ll never forget. Greater Cincinnati has heart, and you’ll see why this event is No. 1 locally—and No. 3 nationally—by joining us downtown on March 9 and 10!

How can someone get involved or participate?


Visit heartmini.org to register a family, friends or company team—or join/donate to one of the many teams already established. Interested participants can also call our Cincinnati AHA office directly at 513-699-4237 to register or learn more.


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