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Reggae Run celebrates life of Maria Olberding

By Rebecca Bayens
On October 19, 2012

The 19th annual Reggae Run celebrated the life of Maria
Olberding in the Mount Lookout neighborhood (On Saturday, Oct. 6.) Olberding was murdered in 1994 while on a run, and in her memory her family and friends established the Reggae Run, complete with Maria's favorite music, stated her brother and Xavier professor Doug Olberding in a recent
interview. "My sister's death was super tragic. [Soon after her death], our friends and family were together and we thought we should just do this," Olberding said concerning
the beginning of this annual event. "It was a really senseless
tragedy, and it would be a shame if no good came from that. You can be bitter and mad, but there is too much of that in the world anyway, so we just try to make some good come of it." In 1998, the Maria Olberding Foundation was established, and through the foundation the Reggae Run has been able to raise more than one million dollars for charitable organizations in the Cincinnati area, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation. According to Olberding the
foundation has been able to raise so much money because of the race's popularity. "There is just such a great vibe here," Olberding said. "It's unlike any other race in the area. The music is great, and it's known for the party, too."
The "party" includes food and drinks that are provided by 35 different booths in a pavilion area near the race course. Access to these booths is free for those who participate in the run, but nonrunners can also pay to get into the party area. "Runners like it because it's the most difficult 5K course in the Cincinnati area, but others like it for the party, too," Olberding said. Olberding likes to get the Xavier community involved in the race since his sister was a Xavier
alum. "This year, we had about 600 volunteers, and many of them were Xavier students," Olberding said. "Alums also come back and volunteer every year. We've been really happy with the response we've had from Xavier. It's really nice to keep that connection to the school, and it's a great thing for Xavier students to get involved in." One group that has been especially involved in the run for the past few years is the Xavier Alternative Breaks (AB). AB site leaders helped to clean up after this year's festivities. "I call them 'the cavalry'," Olberding laughed. "I bus in the trip leaders to help us clean up, and the Reggae Run makes a donation to AB for all of the good work they do for us." Overall, Olberding said that his year's run was a successful
one. Although all of the specific statistics are not in yet, he stated that there were over 5200 runners, walkers and party-goers at this year's event. "It was a really good year,"
he said. "The turnout was great. People just love to come to the Reggae Run."


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