KLH Engineers

Bob Heil... Thinking back on marathons past & present

I woke up this past Sunday, looked out the window and there was a light but steady rain falling thru the deep fog. The forecast was for a 60% chance of rain later in the morning. Was I really going to crawl out of my comfy bed and go watch my wife, Mary Beth, and 28 KLHers run their way thru the streets of Cincinnati? You bet! I would not have missed it for the world.

This year marked the 39th anniversary of the Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon. I ran the very first Heart Mini-Marathon in 1978 as a senior in high school. It was a groundbreaking event; Cincinnati was one of the first (if not THE first) city in the country to raise money for a health related cause through a running event. It is amazing to see how the event has become such a success for the American Heart Association, the City of Cincinnati, and its citizens not only becoming aware of the importance of cardiovascular fitness through diet and exercise, but also the dollars raised for cardiovascular research. To underscore the significance of that first race, Bill Rodgers, the greatest marathoner in American history, participated and won the race. How cool did I feel to be competing in the same race as Bill Rodgers!

Running the Heart Mini-Marathon became a spring ritual in our family; I would return year after year for the first fifteen years or so to run the race with my brothers. My brother, Rick, would run 37 years in a row, until other commitments ended his streak. Rodgers would return to win the race in 1987 and then place third in 1997 (at the age of 49!).

In the past couple of decades, my passion for cycling has replaced the passion that I once had for running, so my participation in running races has been virtually non-existent. But Mary Beth’s commitment to run the St. Jude Marathon the past two years and my son’s successful completion of a full Ironman last October has rekindled an interest in me to “do something” that improves my overall fitness. Having had a total knee replacement two years ago (and the prohibition on any running that that brings), I decided to enter the walking division of the Flying Pig Marathon that takes place on May 2. My training (yes, even walkers need to train for a 26.2 mile race) had been going pretty well until I tore my rotator cuff and had to have surgery. With my training on hold until I get out of my sling on April 2, I needed something to keep me motivated and the Heart Mini-Marathon was just what the doctor ordered.

So crawl out of bed last Sunday I did and how thankful I am. You see, while standing on Columbia Parkway cheering on Mary Beth and Team KLH, something profound came to light. One by one the runners went by. Most runners wore their own unique running attire, but many had the red race day t-shirts with the Heart Mini-Marathon logo on the front and their company affiliation on the back. I saw Companies like Mercy Health, Fifth Third Bank, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare (the team my wife was running for because she works for them). And then, Brian Bruggeman ran by with the KLH logo on the back of his shirt, and then Matt Debevec, and then Adam Pulskamp, and David Texter… That’s when it struck me about how far we have come at KLH and why we have a special place to have a career. Here we were side by side with some of the largest companies in Cincinnati (heck, Fifth Third Bank has 19,000 employees!) and yet our 150 person firm was doing our part to make our region healthier!

I didn’t see many other small company teams that morning, which made me that much more proud of the culture of civic engagement we have created at KLH. Whether it is participation in Paint the Town, CANstruction, our BEST Partnership with Woodfill School, involvement on Boards, or running the Heart Mini-Marathon, we are giving our time, talent and treasure to make the communities where we work and live stronger.

So I thank all of you KLHers who ran or walked the Heart Mini-Marathon on Sunday. You are an inspiration to me – hopefully, I can return the favor on May 2.

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Robert A. Heil, PE, LEED AP, LC

Robert A. Heil, PE, LEED AP, LC | Principal, President & CEO | Fort Thomas, Kentucky

A member of the firm since 1987 and a principal since 1996, Bob serves as President and CEO. He has designed electrical power distribution, lighting, telecommunications, life safety and security systems for retail, municipal, health care, educational and manufacturing facilities, airports, commercial office buildings, and recreational facilities. He is an expert in lighting design and medium voltage power distribution.  As CEO, Bob oversees the firm’s strategic direction with a focus on marketing, communications, and business development.