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Akron Marathon preparing for thousands of runners

9/19/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Thousands of runners took part in last year’s Akron Marathon. The marathon this year will take place Sept. 28.
Photo: Lew Stamp
GREATER AKRON — The Akron Marathon, presented by Time Warner Cable, will take place through the streets of Akron Sept. 28.

While the full marathon and half marathon, presented by Acme Fresh Market, are sold out, those who wish to take part in the five-person team relay, presented by Novo Nordisk, or Kids Fun Run can still register for a limited time.

According to Anne Bitong, president/executive director for the Akron Marathon, the marathon sold out at 2,000, and the half marathon soon also sold out. Spots are still open for the five-person relay and Kids Fun Run, but they’re filling up quickly, she added.

“The Akron Marathon has experienced increased growth every year since its inception in 2003,” said Bitong. “We’re expecting 15,000 total participants [this year].”

According to Bitong, capping the marathon’s field is crucial in making the event a positive experience for everyone involved.

“In order to provide a world class event to all participants, it’s important that we prepare for each participant with the correct amount of water at the water stations, medical support, medals, T-shirts, volunteers, etc.,” she said. “In addition, our course is designed to be accommodating for every runner, whether they’re an elite full marathoner or recreational relay participant. Due to this, it’s important to prepare for a set number of participants.”

In addition, a new aspect of this year’s event that is geared toward improving the experience for those who take part in the marathon involves how the race will begin.

“The start line is being divided into three corrals: A, B and C,” Bitong said. “Participants are assigned to a corral based on their anticipated finish times. This will help alleviate bottle-necking, and it will help each participant experience the excitement of the start line.”

The dates and times for the events of the 11th annual Akron Marathon this year are as follows:

  • The Health & Wellness Expo will take place Sept. 27 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill St. The Expo will be the site of final race registration and packet pick-up for preregistered runners and relay teams. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a variety of exhibitors.
  • The full marathon, half marathon and five-person relays will begin on South Broadway Street Sept. 28 at 7 a.m. and conclude at Canal Park Stadium. Post-race awards and entertainment will be open to the public and take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside Canal Park Stadium.
  • The Kids Fun Run will be Sept. 28 and start at 9 a.m. at Spaghetti Warehouse, 510 S. Main St., and conclude at Lock 3 Park. Registration will begin at 7:45 a.m. The 1-mile run is free and open to children 14 and younger.

In addition, Bitong said, the Akron Marathon is sponsoring a shadow run that will take place in Kuwait at the same time as the event in Akron. This will mark the second time the Akron Marathon has sponsored a shadow run for deployed soldiers, she said.

For this year’s shadow run, approximately 300 soldiers deployed in Kuwait will line up to take part in the race at the U.S. Army’s Camp Arifjan.

“The Akron Marathon shadow run is a morale booster for many soldiers,” First Lt. Kevin McGee, a deployed Akron resident and organizer of the shadow run, said in a press release. “It also helps them maintain important connections with the community back home.”

The shadow run will include the 26.2-mile full marathon, the 13.1-mile half marathon and the team-relay distances. The runners in Kuwait will receive most of the same perks as the Akron-based runners, including finisher medals and finisher certificates, as well as special shadow run T-shirts.

“Images and video from this race will be broadcast in Canal Park Stadium during the Akron Marathon,” Bitong said. “The new electronic scoreboard at Canal Park Stadium will help the Akron Marathon share race images throughout the run via its Instagram page.”

Additionally, Bitong said, more than 2,000 volunteers are involved in making the event a success, and there is always a need for more help. Those interested in volunteering can register at www.akronmarathon.org/volunteers.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the support and passion of the community, participants, the city and our sponsors. This race would not be the incredible success that it is today without those who have been there to support it all along,” Bitong said. “We are very fortunate to have a running community that has been so loyal to the Akron Marathon over the years. We feel some of the reasons that participants have stayed with us are attention to details and personal service to each participant. At the Akron Marathon, it’s important to treat all participants as the world class athletes they are.”

For further details about the Akron Marathon, go to www.akronmarathon.org or call 330-434-2RUN (2786). Also, several streets in Akron will be closed for the marathon. For more details, visit the marathon website.

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