Who was Sam Costa?
This question is asked many times each year as more and more people become acquainted
with the "Sam Costa Half Marathon". The story of "Sam Costa" goes back
to the 1960's, well before running had achieved the mainstream status it
enjoys today. Even though the Boston Marathon had been around since the
1890's, many people will suggest that running wasn't even "invented" in
this country until Frank Shorter won the 1972 Olympic Marathon in
Munich. Sam's story predates that by many years.
Sam Costa used to hang out with runners from central Indiana. Chuck
Koeppen, legendary coach at Carmel, and eventual 4 - time winner of this
race, was one of those. Stories are told of how these few running
pioneers would have races in which the first person back would time
everyone else as they finished. The kind of organization that we have
come to know and expect simply did not exist nor was it necessary. With
so few runners out on country roads with little or no traffic, modern
necessities like aid stations and sentries were unknown.
These early advocates had a race each year called the "Central Indiana
Striders Half Marathon". It was held on the western outskirts of Marion
County in late winter and Sam would participate with the rest of his
buddies. Sam was a good, if not great runner, but he enjoyed the
camaraderie of this group and the fledgling sport it represented.
Unfortunately, Sam would not live to see his avocation become accepted
as it is today. He became terminally ill with cancer and passed away in
the early '70's. His friends felt that the most appropriate memorial
would be to name their half marathon event after Sam. For that reason it
has been called the "Sam Costa Half Marathon" ever since.
The question still remains though - who was Sam Costa? Well, that is
part of the hallowed tradition of this race. Sam was, in fact, a
detective with the Chicago Police Department. His traveling 200 miles to
train and compete with a few friends is testimony to his dedication.
Years ago we adopted a logo for this event that depicts a "Sherlock
Holmes" type figure. This historic detective figure appears on all our
shirts and applications in honor of the man for whom this race is named.
All of us who love the Sam Costa Half Marathon hope this history lesson
will add to your enjoyment of the event. May it also increase your
understanding of its legacy in the running community.
Race Director - Sam Costa Half Marathon