On the run again: Akron Marathon returns to city’s roads this year – Akron Beacon Journal

On the run again: Akron Marathon returns to city’s roads this year  Akron Beacon Journal

The FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon and Team Relay will return to the city’s streets this fall, the Akron Marathon Charitable Corp. announced.

This year’s marathon and related events on Sept. 25 will feature a return to a downtown Akron start, a new course and reduced capacity, along with other safety protocols. 

Last year’s Akron Marathon was a virtual event.

This year’s course was redesigned with a focus on the health and safety of all participants, adhering to current mandates related to COVID-19 public safety orders and following social distancing protocols.

“We are moving the start line back to downtown Akron,” said Anne Bitong, president and CEO of the Akron Marathon Charitable Corp.. “That location will allow us to make sure we social distance.”

Race organizers developed a staggered start process featuring waves of runners, she said. It will take an hour and 10 minutes for all runners to cross the starting line.

Bitong said her organization worked with Summit County Public Health to create a race that would protect runners, volunteers and observers. For instance, water stations will be stocked with bottled water for runners to pick up instead of being handed the water from volunteers.

Participation will be limited to about 8,500 runners, down from the 10,000 to 15,000 that participated in past events.

Other changes in addition to the start include:

• A new course that features familiar sections of previous courses and highlights various neighborhoods and landmarks. Half marathoners will run through North Hill, the University of Akron area, Firestone Park and a brief section of the downtown portion of the Towpath Trail before their South Main Street finish.

Marathoners will return to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail leading to the Merriman Valley, Sand Run Metro Park, West Akron neighborhoods, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens and a downtown finish.

• Revised relay legs will have new distances based on the revised course with minimal transportation points: Relay leg No. 1 — 4.6 miles, Relay leg No. 2 — 6.6 miles, Relay leg No. 3 —5.7 miles, Relay leg No. 4 — 4.5 miles, and Relay leg No. 5 — 4.8 miles.

• A new finish line on South Main Street at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. The new location is due to scheduling conflicts related to a later-finishing Akron RubberDucks season.

Bitong said race organizers began working out details for the new race with city and health officials and finalized a working plan in November.

Bitong said registration is moving at a brisk pace, with about 50% of available slots filled. Applications opened in January, she said.

“Runners are excited,” she said. “We’re actually 20% ahead of schedule [compared to] 2019.”

The race also is seeking volunteers, who can register online at https://www.akronmarathon.org/volunteer/.

Bitong, who started as a race volunteer in 2003 and worked her way up to head the Akron Marathon Charitable Corp., said the event has been a great event to showcase Akron and its hospitality.  She hopes the start and finish in downtown will help businesses located there.

“Every aspect of our race has been reworked with the most important facet being the safety of our participants and volunteers,” she said.

Confirmed Akron Marathon Race Series presented by Summa Health race dates are:

• National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile, June 26.

• Goodyear Half Marathon & 10k, Aug. 14.

• Kids Fun Run presented by Akron Children’s Hospital, Sept. 24.

• FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay, Sept. 25.

Additional information is available at AkronMarathon.org or by calling 330-434-2786.