Sunny skies with record-setting runners on record-setting
AKRON — Race Director Jim Barnett said the Road Runner Akron Marathon runs in cycles — it goes rainy year, sunny year, rainy year, sunny year, etc.
About two weeks ago, Barnett said this year would be sunny. It turned out he was right, as a record 7,820 runners, some shown at far right as they make their way down High Street, basked in sunny skies and temperate weather while competing in full, half, team relay and business challenge marathons, and a 1-K (0.62-mile) Kids Fun Run Sept. 29.
David Petrak, 18, of Cuyahoga Falls, is shown at bottom right as he crosses the finish line to take second place in the men’s full marathon. The former Woodridge High School cross country standout finished with a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes and 45 seconds, only 40 seconds behind champion Joshua Koros and seven minutes ahead of his twin brother, Daniel.
Melissa Rittenhouse, 31, of Wadsworth, is shown above near right a few steps away from taking home the women’s full marathon title with a time of 2:52:31. Her name will be forever etched in sterling silver as the Brouse Cup made its debut and was presented to marathon winners at an awards ceremony in Canal Park after the race. Marathon officials collaborated with the law firm Brouse McDowell to create an 18-1/2-inch, 20-pound trophy that will be engraved with the names of each year’s winners in the men’s and women’s open and masters divisions.
Masters division runners must have had something to prove this year, as race records were set in both the men’s and women’s races. John Piggot, 42, of West Virginia, took first place for the second year in a row and beat the record he set last year with a time of 2:35:58. Elena Paramonova, 45, of Atlanta, took the women’s masters crown and set a course record with a time of 2:56:42.
Though he didn’t take home anything other than the “freebies” that full marathon finishers received, wheelchair athlete and Akron resident Joe Booth Jr., shown at top center as he races uphill on High Street, became a pioneer as he was one of three wheelchair participants selected to “test” the marathon course. Barnett said all wheeled vehicles have previously been excluded because of safety concerns. This year, however, wheelchair athletes tested the course to see how it may fare for a new division. Booth completed the full marathon course with a clock time of 4:23:28. The two additional wheelchair athletes participated in a 5-K (3.1-mile) relay leg and the half marathon.
Other local athletes who registered top 25 men’s times include Damon Blackford, of Akron, who took eighth with a time of 2: 36:07; Rich Wisneski, of Akron, who finished 18th with a time of 2:45:25; and Andrew Adam, of Cuyahoga Falls, who finished 25th with a time of 2:51:01.
Local athletes who registered top 25 women’s times include Siri Terjesen, of Akron, who finished 17th with a time of 3:20:49; Lindsay Mock, of Cuyahoga Falls, who finished 19th with a time of 3: 21:45; and Laura Taucher, of Akron, who finished 22nd with a time of 3:25:02.
— By Mike D’Agruma
Photos: Fred Durr