For the past 12 years in September, various neighborhoods of the Rubber City, from downtown to Highland Square to the Towpath Trail, have swelled with runners competing from across the globe during the Akron Marathon.
On Sept. 26, marathon organizers announced additional event dates in 2015 for its newly created Rubber City Race Series.
On June 27, there will be an 8k and one-mile race, and Aug. 15 offers a Half-Marathon and 10k. The marquee race, with its Full Marathon, Half Marathon, Team Relay and Kids Fun Run, with take place Sept. 26.
Registration is now open. Ever growing in popularity, the inaugural marathon in 2003 hosted 3,775 participants, which nearly quadrupled to 15,000 runners during the 2014 race.
Selected in 2008 as one of the Top Ten Newer Marathons by Runner’s World, the Akron Marathon was also ranked by Running USA in 2011 as the largest marathon relay in the U.S.
Marathon Executive Director Anne Bitong says,“We felt like this was a natural evolution of the Akron Marathon experience. Over the past 12 years, we’ve become known for our world-class runner experience and that will carry over to our new events.”
World class, indeed. Runners from as far away as Africa have traveled to the Buckeye State — and have taken First Place — in the Akron Marathon.
This time around, the September race will debut a new course but will still conclude at Canal Park Stadium. The June race’s one-mile run will be flat, and the 8k will offer a “unique distance,” according to marathon organizers. Afterward, there’ll be a Thirsty Dog Blues & Brews Finisher Festival.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Global Headquarters will be the starting line for August’s Half Marathon and 10k, and will include on its route the Goodyear Proving Grounds for both races. The Goodyear Airdock and Derby Downs will be featured on the Half Marathon course.
“We’ve also timed the two new dates to coincide with training milestones leading to our featured event in September,” Bitong says. “We think this will provide a great opportunity for those who’ve never participated before to get involved with the Akron Marathon through the Rubber City Race Series. In addition, the four new courses — as well as a revamped marathon course — will cover a larger portion of the city.”
The two new races next summer are also expected to generate a substantial boost to the local economy. A recent Kent State university study found that the newly added June and August events will bring in around $1.6 million — in addition to the approximate $6 million generated during the September race.
The inception for the race began nearly 20 years ago in 1985 when Steve Marks, local businessman and co-founder of Main Street Muffin (now Main Street Gourmet), ran his first marathon in Columbus.
He realized then the potential that a major sporting event could bring to the area. And in 1999, he began the process of developing a marathon for Akron. Three years later he established the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation. And just one year later, the streets of Akron surged with the marathon’s first participants in 2003.
“When we began this race in 2003, it was designed to energize the running community and the city of Akron as a whole,” Marks said recently. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response, and it’s extremely gratifying to be able to continue to grow the race in this manner. This wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous support we’ve received from the city, our sponsors and the thousands of volunteers and spectators who have made this race what it is today.”
Visit www.akronmarathon.org or call 330-434-2RUN (2786) for additional information.