I'm well into my second week of training for the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series. While I'm nowhere near ready to hit the Blue Line yet, I've already made a few observations:
We're less than 200 days away from the Akron Marathon, but that doesn't mean it's too late to get started on your own Blue Line journey! One of the cool things about the Akron Marathon Race Series is that they have different distances at different races throughout the summer, so if a half marathon or a relay leg seems too daunting you can start with something as short as a 1 mile and work your way up from there.
The week ahead: Two more brisk walks at longer distances... hopefully with less snow!
For the last three years, I've been the announcer for several of the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series events. It's become something I look forward to every year, but there has always been one thing about it that has been awkward for me:
I've never actually run a race.
Not a marathon, not a half marathon, not even a 5k. But that's about to change.
Brian Polen, the race director for the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, told me after last year's Goodyear Half Marathon and 10k that he wanted to see me run some races this year. I've never been one to jump at the opportunity to work out, but for some reason I said I would. When the weather began to warm up, Brian decided it was time for me to begin my training.
Over the next six months, I'll be preparing to run the National Interstate 8k in June, the Goodyear 10k in August, and the FirstEnergy Akron Half Marathon in September. I'll still be announcing the June and August races and covering the marathon for 1590 WAKR in September, so I'll be running each course about a week before the actual race. Brian has put together a complete training plan for me, and I'll be visiting Vertical Runner of Wooster (which is owned by Brian and his wife Tammy) soon to get all the gear I need to put the plan into action.
I'll be documenting this journey through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Strava, and here on WAKR.net, and I'd love for you to join me! While you may have an idea of what a runner looks like, I've learned that there really is no one type of runner. People of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels challenge the Blue Line each year and achieve their goals. I'll be taking part in this year's Blue Line Beginners program, and I hope I'll get to call your name when you cross the finish line this summer.
For more information or to register for the races, go to www.akronmarathon.org.
Brian Polen joined The Jasen Sokol Show on Monday to talk about turning Jasen into a runner
It was a hot morning Saturday for the 15th running of the Akron Marathon, but four runners beat the heat and their competition to emerge victorious.
Marathon winners Blair Teal and Emma McCarron and half marathon winners Kevin Castille and Liz Weiler talked to Jasen after breaking the tape.
Jasen also talked to men's marathon runner up and Akron native Verrelle Wyatt, whose hometown pride was on display as he wore a "just a runner from Akron" t-shirt on the course and screamed "Akron!" as he crossed the finish line.
More than 9,000 runners from 46 states and 12 countries took to the Blue Line in unseasonably warm conditions Saturday for the 15th running of the Akron Marathon.
Blair Teal of Charlotte, North Carolina avenged his runner up finish in last year's marathon by winning in 2:23:39. Verrelle Wyatt of Akron came in second, just over a minute behind Teal.
In the women's marathon, Emma McCarron of Mansfield ran down eventual runner up Shawanna White in the closing miles to win in 2:52:29. McCarron's sister Grace finished third after the two ran together for much of the morning.
Experience beat youth in the men's half marathon, as 45 year old Kevin Castille of Baton Rouge, Louisiana won in 1:05:16, just over a minute ahead of Medina's Mick Iacofano.
Northeast Ohio runners swept the podium in the women's half marathon. Liz Weiler of Cleveland won in 1:20:09, less than a minute ahead of Beachwood's Amy Gannon. Marissa Baranauskas of Akron finished third.
The male, female, and mixed team relays were won by One 26.2 Sticker (2:54:58), Five Fast Femme Fatale Freak (3:07:46), and George's Farmer Boys and Girls (2:52:43), respectively.
Over the last two years, the Akron Marathon Race Series has raised nearly $900,000 for title sponsor Akron Children's Hospital.
1. Blair Teal, Charlotte, N.C., 2:23:39
2. Verrelle Wyatt, Akron, 2:24:57
3. Zachary Hoagland, Hatfield, Pa., 2:27:47
4. Brent Martin, Wooster, 2:28:11
5. Israel Merkle, Akron, 2:30:52
1. Emma McCarron, Mansfield, 2:52:29
2. Shawanna White, Columbia, S.C., 2:53:27
3. Grace McCarron, Mansfield, 2:54:11
4. Barbara Lorson, Orrville, 3:02:36
5. Jenny Robinson, Cuyahoga Falls, 3:07:23
Masters Men's Marathon
1. Dustin Sprague, Kettering, 2:43:05
2. Francesco Arato, Bolingbrook Ill., 2:48:15
3. Orinthal Striggles, Columbia S.C., 2:48:15
Masters Women's Marathon
1. Dolores Valencia, Chino Hills, Calif., 3:09:46
2. Kristy Kenna, Akron, 3:11:29
3. Teresa Ferguson, Akron, 3:11:46
Men's Half Marathon
1. Kevin Castille, Baton Rouge, La., 1:05:16
2. Mick Iacofano, Medina, 1:06:20
3. Ryan Roush, Canfield, 1:08:14
Women's Half Marathon
1. Liz Weiler, Cleveland, 1:20:09
2. Amy Gannon, Beachwood, 1:20:58
3. Marissa Baranauskas, Akron, 1:23:02
Masters Men's Half Marathon
1. Jason Lafave, Sanford, Mich., 1:15:08
2. Ken Richendollar, Maumee, 1:17:17
3. Mike Seymour, Akron, 1:19:10
Masters Women's Half Marathon
1. Beth Woodward, Orrville, 1:26:19
2. Brenda Hodge, York, Pa., 1:28:48
3. Michelle Farr, Medina, 1:29:22
(Akron Marathon) The FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon & Team Relay celebrated its 15th year along the Blue Line today with a brand new route and warm temperatures. What started as a modest marathon with a field of 3,775 participants has thrived and grown over 300 percent in the last 15 years into a major, first-rate, and signature event within the city of Akron.
"The overall feeling of this race weekend is second to none – from the starting line to the Finisher Festival. The on-course atmosphere was very special this year, with entertainment throughout the course and loads of enthusiastic spectators alongside our Akron Children's hero patients and their families cheering on all the participants," said Shawn Lyden, executive vice president of Akron Children's. "This year more than 13,000 took to the streets during our three race weekends, experiencing the best of what this city has to offer. We couldn't be more proud to serve as the title beneficiary for this great series."
The festivities kicked off Thursday night with two-time Olympian and world champion, Kara Goucher being honored with the 2017 Akron Marathon Ambassador Award. More than 1,000 kids ages 12 and under joined in the fun on Friday night at the Kids 1-Mile Fun Run, presented by Signet Jewelers. After offering inspiration to the runners at the Health and Fitness Expo presented by Summa Health and SummaCare on Friday, Goucher joined the runners in Saturday's Half Marathon event, and earned cheers from the more than 100,000 race spectators there to rally their favorite runners toward the finish line.
"Fifteen years is no easy feat. Through many course and venue changes, adding distances along the way, and expansion into a race series, we are so proud to be hosting the 15th annual event. We are thrilled to report that 143,165 runners have run this event throughout the 15 years," said Steve Marks, founder and chairman of the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation. "Although so much has happened and so much has changed over the years – it still seems like it wasn't too long ago that we were doing this for the first time. The continuity of the having an amazing city like Akron as a partner and having the support of many loyal sponsors through the years, along with one of the best race staffs out there, is a big part of our success."
Blair Teal of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Emma McCarron of Mansfield, found that success on Saturday morning and were the first to cross the finish line inside Canal Park Stadium for the marathon, with respective times of 2:23:39 and 2:52:29. While Kevin Castille of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Liz Weiler from Cleveland, took top places in the half marathon.
The runner-up in the men's marathon was Verrelle Wyatt of Akron, finishing with a time of 2:24:57, and Zachary Hoagland of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, crossing the line third at 2:27:47. Shawanna White of Columbia, South Carolina finished in second on the women's side with a time of 2:53:27, followed by Grace McCarron from Mansfield in 2:54:11.
Top men's half marathon finishers included Medina's Mick Iacofano and Ryan Roush from Canfield with equally fast times of 1:06:20 and 1:08:14. Beachwood's Amy Gannon took second in the women's half marathon finishing in 1:20:58, with Akron's own Marissa Baranauskas, crossing in third at 1:23:02.
The top finishers in the masters (40 years and older) marathon competition were, Dustin Sprague of Kettering and Dolores Valencia of Chino Hills, California, on the women's side. For the half marathon, the top masters were Jason Lafave of Sanford, Michigan and Beth Woodward of Orrville. (Complete winner information can be found at the end of release.)
The marathon relay didn't disappoint with fast times and wins turned in by Five Guys, One 26.2 Sticker for the five-person male team relay in 2:54:58, Five Fast Femme Fatale Freak was the top women's squad with a finishing time of 3:07:46. A time of 2:53:43 was clocked by the top mixed competition team – George's Farmer Boys and Girls.
For the third year, prize money was awarded to the top three men and women to finish the marathon who are Ohio residents. Those top winners were, Verrelle Wyatt, Akron and Emma McCarron of Mansfield.
"FirstEnergy is very proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Akron Marathon, a marquee event for our region that draws some of the world's top runners to compete just steps from our headquarters," said Charles Jones, president and chief executive officer of FirstEnergy Corp. "We have nearly 2,500 employees who live and work in the Akron area, many of whom volunteer or run in the Akron Marathon every year. This event showcases the city and we're pleased to be a part of it."
2017 served as the third year for the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series. The National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile was held on June 24 and the Goodyear Half Marathon & 10k was run on August 12. More than 1,400 runners completed the series and participated in all three races this year.
"Fifteen years after the first race, our mission and focus remains the same: providing a world-class marathon and other events that promote health and fitness, stimulate the local economy, galvanize the community and benefit charitable organizations," said Anne Bitong, executive director of the Akron Marathon. "With more than 9,000 runners this weekend from 46 states and 12 countries, nearly $900,000 raised for Akron Children's Hospital during our two-year series partnership and the smiling faces from our volunteers, runners and the spectators today, I think it is safe to say it was another successful year for the Akron Marathon."
It's right around the corner, and with the forecast calling for some steamy weather, the Akron Marathon will be ready to roll on Saturday.
Akron Marathon Course Committee Co-Chairman and Board member Bret Treier joined Sam and Brad in studio to talk about this year's race including some of the changes coming to the course due to construction.
"The thing we're most excited about this year is we're going back to Firestone Park," Treier said. "We had the race there traditionally, a couple years ago we did to not go down south to Firestone Park due to heavy construction on Brown and Main both."
The race is in it's 15th year, and is sponsored by Akron Children's Hospital and FirstEnergy.
For more information on Saturday's race, click here.
This year's Akron Marathon Ambassador is certainly no stranger to running -- the honor goes to marathon runner Kara Goucher, who's runningn career includes shattering records during her debut at the New York Marathon in 2008 and winning the first American medal in the World Outdoor Championships in 2007 following a championship run at the University of Colorado.
Goucher will be recognized in a special ceremony on the Thursday prior to this year's Akron Marathon, scheduled for Saturday, September 23rd through the streets of downtown Akron.
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(Akron Marathon) Since 2008, the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation (AMCC) has celebrated the contributions of dedicated leaders in the sport with their Akron Marathon Ambassador Award. This year, AMCC will honor two-time Olympian, World Championship medalist, and World-Class marathoner Kara Goucher with the 2017 Akron Marathon Ambassador Award.
Goucher burst onto the running scene competing collegiately for the University of Colorado and was a three-time NCAA champion. In 2007, her bronze in the IAAF World Outdoor Championships was the first ever American medal won in the 10,000 meter distance. Later in 2007, Goucher increased her distance and not only won the Great North Run half marathon in Newcastle, England but recorded the women’s fastest-ever half marathon debut in the world. In 2008, Goucher turned in another history-making performance at the New York Marathon racing her way to the fastest marathon debut ever by an American woman, the fastest time ever by an American at the event, and the first time in 14 years that an American woman placed in the top three in New York. She has competed in two Olympics, competing for the United States in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter distances in 2008 and the marathon in 2012.
An inspirational mentor to many, she leads annual female running retreats and shares her know-how, tips and advice in her first book: “Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons.”“Kara has left her mark on U.S. distance running during her exceptional career. Goucher’s name, and face, is one of the most recognized in the running world,” said Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation Trustee Dave Hunter. “Her enthusiasm for the sport and honest approach to competition truly embodies the spirit of the Akron Marathon and we are thrilled to honor her and have her with us for the 15th running of the Marathon.
”The tenth annual Ambassador Award will be presented at an invitation-only VIP Reception on Thursday, September 21 at Greystone Hall. The award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions and lasting impacts to the sport of running has honored many iconic figures in the sport including Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers, Amby Burfoot, Hal Higdon, Craig Masback, Creigh Kelley, and most recently Meb Keflezighi in 2016.
The FirstEnergy Akron Marathon Health and Fitness Expo presented by Summa Health and SummaCare will be held at the John S. Knight Center on Friday, September 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The expo is free and open to the public and Goucher will be on hand to greet runners and sign autographs.The Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series hit the road with nearly 2,000 runners and walkers participating in the first of three summer races – the National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile on June 24. The series continues on August 12 with the Goodyear Half Marathon & 10k, and culminates with the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon, and Team Relay on September 23. Registration for both events is available at AkronMarathon.org.
About Kara Goucher
Kara Goucher is a professional runner, inspirational mentor, proud mother and loving wife. She graduated from the University of Colorado with three Division I NCAA championships in cross-country, the 3000m and 5000m. She is a two-time Olympian, an American record holder, World Championships silver medalist, and one of the most accomplished female distance runners of all time. In addition to her professional resume, Kara is an inspiration to people everywhere. She is an advocate for clean sport and women’s rights, and she connects with organizations and non-profits that are making a positive impact. Her partners include Oiselle, Skechers Performance, nuun and Zensah.
Nearly 13,000 runners laced up their shoes for this year's Akron Marathon, and local runners dominated the winner's list in both the full and half marathon.
Tony Migliozzi of North Canton broke the tape in the marathon in 2 hours, 21, minutes, and 40 seconds, a new record for the current version of the course. Migliozzi, the reigning world 50k champion, is the first American male to win the Akron Marathon.
In the women's division, Becki Spellman of Hilliard won in 2:51:33. The win was Spellman's second of the year in the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, as she won the Goodyear Half Marathon in August.
Ohioans also took home top honors in the half marathon. Canton's Ryan Kienzle and Dayton's Maura Lemon won the men's and women's divisions in 1:08:02 and 1:18:25 respectively. It was Kienzle's second win in Akron.
It was a record-setting day not just for Migliozzi, but for two other athletes who challenged the Blue Line. Ron Legg of Beach City set the U.S. record for the men's 20k in the 70-74 year old age bracket with a time of 1:26:27. The previous record had stood since 1980.
Helen McWilliams set a Guiness World Record for the fastest marathon while dressed as a chef in 4:54:49 while also raising several thousand dollars for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. In addition to wearing the traditional chef's jacket, pants and hat, McWilliams also had to carry a six-pound pot for the entire 26.2 miles.
The usual thousands of spectators and well-wishers along the course were joined for the first time this year by 24 Akron Children's Hospital patients in 13 new "hero zones" added to the course as part of the marathon's new partnership with the hospital. In addition, Meb Keflezighi, the winner of the 2014 Boston Maraton, 2009 New York City Marathon, and silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, was on hand to congratulate runners at the finish line.
1st: Tony Migliozzi, North Canton, 2:21:40
2nd: Blair Teal, Charlotte, N.C., 2:23:43
3rd: Israel Merkle, Akron, 2:23:02
1st: Becki Spellman, Hilliard, 2:51:33
2nd: Kayla Aluise, Youngstown, 3:01:03
3rd: Lauren Woolley, Pittsburgh, Pa., 3:05:28
Men's Half Marathon
1st: Ryan Kienzle, Canton, 1:08:02
2nd: Ryan Roush, Canfield, 1:08:09
3rd: Matt Lemon, Dayton, 1:09:56
Women's Half Marathon
1st: Maura Lemon, Dayton, 1:18:25
2nd: Ellie Hess, Chesterland, 1:20:01
3rd: Emma McCarron, Mansfield, 1:21:31
Masters Divison (40+) Winners
Men's Marathon: Francsesco Arato, Bolingbrook, Ill., 2:44:00
Women's Marathon: Teresa Ferguson, Akron, 3:11:17
Men's Half Marathon: Brad Prather, Roanoke, Ind., 1:17:34
Women's Half Marathon: Michelle Farr, Medina, 1:29:49
Men's: The First Tee of Greater Akron Flyers
Women's: Cleveland Elite Development
Here are a few highlights from this year's marathon:
The Akron Marathon will be under way this weekend as runners from all over country and the world will look to put on display their will, determination, and athletic ability. Some runners will look to set their own personal marathon records while others will look to break world records. For Helen McWilliams she has a paticular Guinness Record in her sights. McWilliams sat down with Jasen Sokol to discuss her ambition to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest time running a marathon while dressed as a chef.
The Akron Police Department has released the full list of road closures that start Friday and continue on a rolling schedule through early Saturday afternoon.
Beginning Friday, S. Main St. Between State and Bowery will close start at 6 p.m. At 6:30, S. Main St. between W. Exchange and State St will close. At 7 p.m., E. Buchtel Ave. between High and S. Main St. will close along with S. High St. between Church St. and University.
Click here to see the full list of closures courtesy of the Akron Police Department.
This weekend's Goodyear 10k -- part of the Akron Marathon race series -- is now sold out with the only slots available for the half-marathon. More than 1,500 runners are taking part in the event Saturday that starts at Goodyear's world headquarters.
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(Akron Marathon) The Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series has announced that the 2016 Goodyear 10k, which features 1,500 runners, is officially sold out. The race begins at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 13, at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company's global headquarters at 200 Innovation Way in Akron.
While registration for both the 10k and Half Marathon closed today (Aug. 9), the Akron Marathon will offer additional registration for the Half Marathon at packet pick-up based on a limited basis. Packet pick-up will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, August 12 at the John S. Knight Center.
"We couldn't be happier with the amount of excitement surrounding the race series," said Anne Bitong, Akron Marathon president/executive director. "Coming off a successful series kick-off in June with our 8k & 1 Mile races, the number of participants for this race affirms the event's popularity and we are just thrilled to continue the momentum into this weekend's race."
The Goodyear Half Marathon & 10k course will travel past Goodyear's headquarters and includes a lap around the track at the tiremaker's restricted-access Akron Proving Grounds.
The top three overall men/women as well as top three masters men/women will receive awards in both the half marathon and 10k events. Awards will also be given to the top three men/women in each age group. The top male and female in the half marathon, as well as the top male and female in the 10k, will each receive a Goodyear Blimp ride for two and a $50 gift certificate to local Goodyear retail stores.
After the race, runners and spectators can enjoy the Finisher Festival that includes a live band, Swenson's Food Truck, Eddies Famous Cheesesteaks, ice cream and more.
Participants in the Half Marathon will receive a short sleeve premium tech shirt, medal, commemorative hat and food festival tickets. Participants in the 10k will receive a short sleeve premium tech shirt, medal and food festival tickets.
The remaining 2016 race dates are as follows: August 13 (Goodyear Half Marathon & 10k) and September 24 (FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half Marathon, Team Relay). The dates coordinate with a typical training schedule to help runners reach bigger goals and longer distances. Registration for Akron Marathon Race Series events is available at AkronMarathon.org.
Get ready for a mouthful; The Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series Marathon, Half-Marathon and Team Relay will become the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series Marathon, Half-Marathon and Team Relay presented by FirstEnergy. And that's a good thing.
It may take a few breaths to get the name out, but it does show the deep level of support and backing one of the premier events showcasing Akron enjoys locally from the Akron business community. Two of the business community's heavyweights reinforced that message as Bill Considine, CEO of Akron Children's Hospital and Chuck Jones, CEO of FirstEnergy, teamed with Akron Mayor Jeff Fusco and Akron Marathon founder Steve Marks to announce the event's new sponsorships.
Akron Children's Hospital stepped in last month and FirstEnergy signed up as a presenting sponsor, something the Akron-based utility wanted to do before Time Warner first led as presenting sponsor in 2003. Jones said the utility sees the sponsorship as continuation of what it's done giving back to the communities it serves across it's five-state footprint.
"Our headquarters is here, this will always be our home, it's been our home for over a hundred years," Jones said. "Akron's a great community...I'm proud of the growth that it's seen, how it's transformed itself from the rubber capital of the world to a vibrant city."
Considine is a key player among Akron's corporate and community leaders.
"We're pretty excited about it. It unites the community," Considine said. "It's a national event...we're a national hospital, seeing patients from all 50 states at Akron Children's Hospital. An event like the Akron Marathon shows the community cares." Considine called Akron a "champion city" and said the Marathon is an "image builder" for Akron.
"The Akron Marathon has always been about community, and we're extremely happy one of the largest employers in Summit County has stepped up," said Marathon founder Steve Marks.
The Akron Marathon drew more than 20,000 participants during it's events in 2015 with events including the full marathon, half-marathon, relay and other races.
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(Akron Marathon)FirstEnergy Corp. has signed a three-year agreement with the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series to serve as the presenting sponsor of the Marathon, Half Marathon and Team Relay held each September. The announcement was made Tuesday at a special event at Cascade Plaza in downtown Akron.
FirstEnergy replaces Time Warner Cable, which had served as presenting sponsor since the Akron Marathon's inception in 2003.
"The Akron Marathon has always been about community and we're extremely happy one of the largest employers in Summit County has stepped up to become presenting sponsor," said Steve Marks, Akron Marathon founder. "At the same time, we'd like to thank Time Warner Cable for being a great partner for the first 13 years of the event."
Headquartered in Akron, FirstEnergy has more than 15,000 employees who serve six million customers across six states.
"We're thrilled to partner with Akron Children's Hospital to increase our sponsorship of the Akron Marathon," said Chuck Jones, president and CEO of FirstEnergy. "This race has become a nationally-respected event, both because it's so well-organized and because of the tremendous ways this community has embraced it. Many of our employees and customers run, volunteer and cheer for this event every year, making this a perfect fit for FirstEnergy."
FirstEnergy has been a major sponsor of the Akron marathon since its inception in 2003.
The inaugural Akron Marathon featured 3,775 participants and has grown to more than 14,000 across the weekend's events. The marquee event generates more than $6 million in economic activity and generates thousands of dollars more in contributions to countless charities.
"FirstEnergy has been a longtime partner of Akron Children's Hospital, and we are delighted that they accepted our invitation to step up to presenting sponsor of the marathon as we become the race's title beneficiary in 2016," said Bill Considine, Akron Children's Hospital president and CEO. "We are grateful to FirstEnergy and all the individuals and organizations who are so civic-minded and make Akron such a great place to live."
Known as the Akron Marathon Rubber City Race Series in 2015, more than 20,000 runners participated across the three events. The series dates were developed to help guide runners through a typical training schedule leading up to the marquee events. The 2016 events will be held June 25 (8k & 1-Mile), August 13 (Half Marathon & 10k) and Sept. 24 (Full Marathon, Half Marathon, Team Relay & Kids Fun Run). Registration is scheduled to open this winter.
The Akron Marathon's official name is getting even longer, with official word coming Tuesday afternoon.
It was a mouthful when the Akron Marathon Race Series became the Akron Children's Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series, and now you can add another title name sponsor into the mix.
Officials from Akron Children's Hospital, the Akron Marathon and FirstEnergy will be announcing even more support for the event that's grown into a national race. All are tight-lipped ahead of the announcement Tuesday afternoon but FirstEnergy will take title of one of the Akron Marathon signature races.
There is a delicious irony to FirstEnergy's sponsorship; the utility already sponsors the All-American Soap Box Derby by name, meaning it'll be a title sponsor on two Akron-based races -- one billed as a thrill down the hill thanks to and the other based on human-powered motion, both unaided by engines or motors. Neither race needing electricity.