Sparks runs 26 miles with drum sticks

Most people plan for months to run a marathon. Others go if the mood strikes them.

Ernie Sparks of London falls into the second category, or at least he did for this year’s Columbus Marathon.

"It was a spur of the moment thing," said Sparks, 50, who hasn’t run a marathon in five years but has nearly 50 to his credit.

His goal for the Oct. 19 marathon was unusual. He didn’t care about how fast he ran the race. He just wanted to play with a bunch of the bands that set up along the course to cheer on the runners.

"I showed up with a pair of drum sticks and jammed with some of them," he said. "I think there were 39 bands there."

Sparks is a drummer in the Lower London Street Dixieland Band, which has performed at the Red Brick Tavern in Lafayette the last Tuesday of every month for the last 20 years.

The London pharmacy owner said he was impressed with the musical entertainment at this year’s marathon.

"There was just about every kind of music you could want to listen to. There were several good bands," Sparks said.

He had such a good time stopping to play with them that it took him over seven hours to finish the 26.3-mile course. The average finish time among the 3,867 marathoners was just over four hours.

Drum sticks weren’t the only thing Sparks carried with him. He also carried a cigar the whole way.

"I lit it in the last two-tenths of a mile so that I could say I came in smoking," he said.

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