The Glass City Marathon has been run 33 times since 1971 and has seen numerous different champions from across the country.
But for race organizers, it's
always a little extra special when a local champion is crowned.
Perrysburg resident Matt Folk is this year's defending champion at the event, which takes place Sunday at a new venue.
After being hosted for many years at various locations in downtown Toledo, the run will commence at 7 a.m. between Lot 10 and the east tennis courts on the campus of the University of Toledo and end at midfield in the Glass Bowl.
Running his first Glass City Marathon last year on an unseasonably warm day, Folk won with a time of 2 hours, 31 minutes and 4 seconds.
"It was definitely a big deal," said Folk, 34, a Clay graduate and general manager of Second Sole running shop at Levis Commons in Perrysburg.
"It's the big event that everybody talks about. You hear so much about it, so it definitely meant a lot."
Race volunteer Tom Falvey, who's been involved with the event since 1977, sees Folk as the odds-on favorite to repeat.
"I doubt anybody could come here and beat him," Falvey said. "He's that good. He could probably run a 2:20 [2 hours, 20 minutes], but he probably won't be
pushed in this event."
After last year's Glass City Marathon, Folk went on to run in the Columbus marathon last fall and won there too, with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes and 45 seconds.
"I think we all like to see a guy from our running club do well and win it," Falvey said.
"It gives us a good feeling. Not to mention he's a heck of a nice guy. He's a very humble and unassuming guy. I can't say enough good things about him."
According to Falvey, approximately 3,300 runners have signed up so far to participate in one of the Glass City Marathon events: marathon, half marathon, 5K, five-person relay
marathon, and kids marathon.
About 650 people have registered for the marathon, Falvey said, up from 328 marathoners last year.
Entry to the half marathon is closed after the maximum capacity of 1,500 was reached.
"We're certainly pleased with the numbers this year," Falvey said. "I've run a lot of marathons and I can honestly say this is one of the best organized marathons in the country."
The race route has changed considerably and will be run primarily on the University/Parks Trail that runs from UT to King Road in Sylvania.
Participants also will run through Old Orchard, Ottawa Hills, Olander Park in Sylvania, and Wildwood Metropark.
The course is being billed by race organizers as one of the fastest in the Midwest because of its relatively few elevation changes and smooth, paved surfaces.
To avoid congestion on the University/Parks Trail, runners in the 5K event will start at 7:45 a.m. Race-day packet pick-up begins at
5:30 a.m. at Savage Arena.
The top-five male and female individual finishers will receive cash and other prizes, with first place taking home $500.
For Folk, the opportunity to be a repeat champion at his home event is incentive enough.
"I'm excited," said Folk, who has been training for the race since December and usually runs at Side Cut or Wildwood metroparks.
"It'll be interesting to see how the new course is. Hopefully I can do my best, and the biggest thing I'd like to do is run faster than I did last year. Hopefully the weather will allow that. I guess as of right now they said it's just supposed to rain, which is a lot better than last year when it got up to 80 degrees."
Contact Zach Silka at: