Akron Marathon returns with start at Akron Art Museum and end at Lock 3

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Hours before sunrise, Anne Bitong and her team gathered in downtown Akron to put the finishing touches on the event they had been planning for months.

After a year-long absence from the city streets, the Akron Marathon was just hours away, making a big comeback for the 2020 virtual marathon.

“We left the start line at 1 am and have [back] here at 4 am, ”said Bitong, chairman of Akron Marathon Charitable Corp. “… There is no better event than the Akron Marathon to recover from the pandemic.

The 950 marathon runners, 2,539 half marathon runners and 2,411 relay runners from Saturday’s event seemed equally excited to be back, with participants from 42 states claiming all available spots within two months. before the races.

Enthusiastic runners and thousands of their supporters gathered early in the morning for the races, lining the blocked roads of downtown Akron and creating a party atmosphere in perfect weather on race day.

“This [shows] that the runners want to come back to racing in person, ”Bitong said. “The enthusiasm here is so high.”

Following:Man moves to the finish line of the Akron Half Marathon. (She said yes.)

This year, the marathon started near the Akron Art Museum with the finish line on South Main Street near Lock 3 – adjustments made, in part, as concessions to the lingering coronavirus pandemic . The races were also launched in waves staggered in time.

The riders and their many fans didn’t seem to mind the changes at all.

Akron's Nick Stricklen crosses the finish line in a time of 2:25:07 to win the Akron Marathon on Saturday.

Runners ready to go

It was a special Akron half-marathon for Barberton resident Chad Henderson, who stood in the dark a block from the start line, waiting for the sun to rise and his call to line up.

Henderson said he had entered the race to honor the memory of his 3-year-old daughter, Aziza, who died in November.

“This is my motivation to organize the event,” he said.

Henderson said he has competed in other races but calls himself a part-time runner.

“I just hope to finish [it],” he said.

Stephanie Garisto was getting ready for her half marathon about an hour before the start time. The Ellet resident said she has been running for 12 years and can’t wait for this year’s event to arrive.

“I was in tears when I got out of my car today,” she said. “I was so happy.”

Garisto said she started running to get in shape and has lost shape since then.

“I weighed around 270 pounds in 2009 and lost a lot of weight,” she said. “… It’s the best feeling in the world to cross the finish line.

Garisto said she plans to train for the full marathon next year.

Following:Photo gallery: Akron’s first marathon, half-marathon and team relay

John Becke drove from Pittsburgh to run the Akron Marathon, which he also ran in 2018 and 2019.

“This particular event is great,” he said. “It’s well organized and at a great time of year.

Becke said runners have plenty of reasons to get up before dawn for a chance to run 42 miles along the hilly and grueling streets of Akron.

“There is the challenge, the preparation, the training,” he said. “There is energy in the air.

Becke said this year’s event was special due to the pandemic.

“It’s the highlight of the summer,” he said. “It’s nice to be back among the people.”

Amy and Ben Gibbs of Shaker Heights were training together and were racing in the Akron event for at least the fourth time.

“We have raced in different states…” said Amy Gibbs. “[Akron] made the best show.

Twinsburg’s Kevin Koby was running the full marathon, and it wasn’t his first.

“I did all the Akrons,” he says.

Like his fellow runners, Koby said he was thrilled to be back on the city streets. He said he ran marathons from Nashville to Chicago and Akron was his favorite.

“I’ve been to a lot of others, and this is No. 1,” he said.

Teresa Ferguson of Coventry Township crosses the finish line with a time of 3:18:45 to place first in the women's category of the Akron Marathon.

A helping hand for Akron

Since Akron’s first Marathon in 2003, the event has grown into an urban tradition that draws thousands of visitors and their businesses to the city.

The Marathon Charitable Corp. estimates that the race has an annual economic impact of $ 8 million for the Akron region and has raised more than $ 6 million for charities.

Jason Lisowski, vice president, controller and chief accounting officer of FirstEnergy Corp., said the race is an obvious choice for the company to sponsor.

“This is definitely Akron, Ohio’s first event,” he said. “We have sponsored it since 2003.

In 2015, the company became the title sponsor of the Akron Marathon.

Lisowski said more than 100 FirstEnergy employees were participating in one of the events in the race series. Lisowski said he is not a runner, but appreciates the popularity of the event.

“When you see lines of people along the entire track, I understand that,” he said.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said the race had a major economic and cultural impact on the city.

“It’s a big event for the city and the region,” he said. “I can’t put a price tag on it.”

The mayor said he prefers his bike to running, but is impressed with the athleticism of Saturday’s competitors and the community vibe of the event.

“[We have] 7,000 people having breakfast with their friends, ”he said. “I love it.”

Jeremiah Fitzgerald of Lakewood wins the Akron Half Marathon with a time of 1:08:03.

Safety everywhere

Akron police, private security and even agents from the US Department of Homeland Security were present on Saturday to keep the marathon going.

Rashee Stevens from Kenmore worked for the private security company, helping runners prepare for the race.

“My job is to make sure the runners are on the right side,” he said, pointing to the metal fence separating the competitors from the spectators.

Stevens said he felt the excitement of the day and was happy to be a part of it.

“They come here for fun,” he said.

Stevens said he remains in shape, but is not likely to compete in the marathon anytime soon.

“The 26 miles seems a bit far for me,” he said. “I stay in shape, but I’m out of shape for 26 miles.”

Boost for businesses

Sweet Mary’s Bakery on Mill Street has opened to take advantage of the huge downtown crowds, offering a list of goodies ranging from bacon and cheddar cookies and maple and nut rolls to crisps. , croissants and cookies.

At 7 a.m. it was packed and had to stay open until 10 a.m.

On South Main Street, Hamad’s on Main has placed a table with breakfast sandwiches, cookies and coffee outside in an effort to stimulate business.

Jon Hamad, owner of the facility, said he has struggled to maintain his business since the start of the pandemic.

“It will definitely help,” he said. “It’s the first year he’s been in front of me.”

Hamad said his business is in its fifth year and has continued its restaurant business. He had made around 60 breakfast sandwiches and hoped to sell around 100 before the crowds disappeared.

Bitong said that as exciting as this year’s marathon is for her and the runners, the 2022 Akron Marathon could turn out to be even better.

“Next year we will be celebrating our 20th birthday,” she said. “It will be an unforgettable memory.”

Leave a message to Alan Ashworth at 330-996-3859 or email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconj.

Becki Spellman of Galloway wins the women's category of the Akron Half Marathon with a time of 1:20:53.

List of full marathon winners

Female overall:

• Teresa Ferguson, Township of Coventry, 3:18:45

• Greer Rothermel, Uniontown, 3:20:10

• Taylor Warrick, Cleveland, 3:26:51

Male overall:

• Nick Stricklen, Akron, 2:25:07

• Dylan Garritano, Akron, 2:27:30

• Israel Merkle, Akron 2:28:08

Female Masters:

• Teresa Ferguson, Township of Coventry 3:18:45

• Katie McNeil, Zanesville 3:46:56

• Jennie Swires, Mantua 3:47:34

Male Masters:

• Brian Polen, Wooster, 2:42:44

• Paul Stock, Hudson, 2:50:42

• Ron Hayes, Akron, 2:57:40

List of half marathon winners

Female overall:

• Becki Spellman, Galloway, 1:20:53

• Caroline Ostry, Copley, 1:27:31

• Brittany Eismon, Hudson, 1:28:20

Male overall:

• Jeremiah Fitzgerald, Lakewood, 1:08:03

• Nathaniel Orndorf, Akron, 1:09:34

• Josh Rieskamp, ​​Columbus, 1:09:49

Female Masters:

• Leslie Owen, Copley, 1:37:37

• Nicole Gareri-David, Canton, 1:37:40

• Tammie Pruett, Massillon, 1:44:14

Male Masters:

• David Stewart, Mogadore, 1:25:21

• Mark Rohrer, Wadsworth, 1:27:56

• Jason Vickers, Massillon, 1:28:06

For more information on the Akron Marathon Race Series presented by Summa Health, please visit AkronMarathon.org.


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