For Oscar Martin, running in Toledo is an everyday occasion. Just not in Toledo, Ohio.
The 30-year old native of Toledo's sister city in Spain made the trip across the Atlantic to join the crowd at the 29th Glass City Marathon and will make the return trip as its winner.
A veteran of two European marathons, Martin completed the 26.2-mile course in a time of 2:31.33, besting the field of 779 other runners from 18 states and Canada.
"It was different because I didn't have anyone running with me," he said. "It was a little lonely during the last half. Running alone does hinder me a bit. It doesn't give me the drive to keep up with someone else. So maybe I could have posted a better time if not for the lack of someone accompanying me."
Martin was all alone after the first three miles and cruised to an easy victory.
Taking second place overall at 2:37.28 was 26-year old Aaron Usher, no stranger to seeing the Glass City Marathon finish line early. The BGSU graduate won this race last year, but was unable to match Martin's fast pace.
"I ran a little slower than I wanted to, and I would have liked to win, but the way he [Martin] took off, I just had to let him go and hope he came back to me," Usher said.
"Last year I thought about not coming because I felt so bad, so I started off really slow. Then by halfway I felt great and started flying at the end. This year I came in feeling good, but I just wasn't quite able to maintain the pace I was shooting for."
Just behind Usher at 2:37.50 was Ann Arbor native Ian Forsyth, making his marathon debut yesterday.
"I've never run that far before, so I was trying to keep it moderate the whole way, so I wouldn't kill myself," he said.
The top women's individual finish went to 41-year old Connie Gardner. The runner from Medina, Ohio, came in at
3:14.05, more than five minutes faster than the women's runner-up, Nancy Schubring of Novi, Mich.
"I usually run this race as a training run," Gardner said. "I ran a 100-miler last Saturday, so I'm just trying to see how I do back-to-back. I was shooting for about 3:30, because I didn't think I could come out that fast. I'm very shocked."
The top wheelchair finisher was Andrew Barnhart, 49. Barnhart, from Reading, Mich., defended his top finish from last year's marathon with a time of 2:56.15. The winner of the accompanying 5K run was Kenneth Richendollar, who finished in 17:06.
The race was supported by the Toledo Roadrunners Club, which provided about 500 volunteers.
For the first time in its 29-year history, the finish line of the Glass City Marathon was moved from its usual spot on Water Street, near Monroe, to the shores of the Maumee River.
Race director Ed O'Reilly feels the shift was a good move for the race, and played a big part in the boost of nearly 300 more runners from last year.
"I think we were fortunate in getting the race date set early, so it was a springtime event with some sun and not too hot of a temperature, and weather is a big factor in a race like this,'' O'Reilly said
"We made it very public that we were going to run down the river, that the finish would be this nice stroll down the river walk. That turned out to be a big incentive for the runners this year. Martin said he was very impressed with the beauty of the Maumee River as he made the approach to his winning finish."
This year's race began on Summit Street in front of the Wyndham Hotel, the marathon's host site, and took runners along both sides of the Maumee, a far cry from the usual cramped, skyscraper-lined routes of bigger-name marathons in Boston and New York.
"We have one of the most scenic marathon routes," O'Reilly said. "Most marathons are very convoluted and criss-crossing things. Ours goes out one side of the river and comes back on the other side. It's a tour of Toledo, Rossford, Perrysburg, Maumee, Sidecut Metropark, even the zoo. If I could work the Museum of Art in there, I would, and hit all the tourist attractions."