Nearly everything was different about the 34th running of the Glass City Marathon Sunday, except one key element: Perrysburg resident Matt Folk repeated as champion.
He covered the new course and venue in 2 hours, 28 minutes, and 23 seconds.
"I'm very excited to have won two in a row now," said Folk, 34, a Clay High School graduate and general manager of Second Sole running shop at Levis Commons in Perrysburg. "It's always a thrill to win, especially at your hometown race. It's a great experience."
Folk has won the last three marathons he's entered after also finishing first at the Columbus Marathon in the fall with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes, and 45 seconds.
"I just wanted to do better than last year," Folk said. "There's part of me that wished I would have pushed a little harder in the middle miles, but I'm still happy with how I did."
Folk finished the 2009 Glass City Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 4 seconds. Last year's race was on a day in which temperatures soared past 80 degrees.
A mere half-hour after crossing the finish line, Folk milled around with family and friends. He didn't look like a man who had just run a marathon. "Today definitely felt a 100 times better than last year," Folk said.
"Last year, everything [for me] just totally crumbled, so my whole goal today was just to stay strong and finish strong. This is probably the best I've ever felt in a marathon."
Folk began training for the event in December but agreed that yesterday's overcast skies and cool temperatures aided his performance.
"The only thing I was concerned about weatherwise was the humidity," Folk said. "But there were plenty of water stops and the weather turned out to be pretty ideal. We didn't get any of the rain or thunderstorms that everybody was worried about all week. We were very fortunate that way."
The top female finisher was Beth Woodward, who clocked in at 3 hours, 1 minute, and 42 seconds.
The 34-year-old substitute teacher from Orrville, Ohio, finished fourth among females last year in her first Glass City Marathon with a time of 3 hours, 24 minutes, and 13 seconds.
"This is a great feeling," said Woodward, who was running in her 19th marathon. "I'm very surprised I won. I've never won a marathon before, so I wasn't expecting this. I went out slow, but between [mile] 15 and 16, I felt good and kept on picking it up and just kept on going."
After the marathon had been hosted for many years at various locations in downtown Toledo and run along the Maumee River, the race commenced at 7 a.m. yesterday between Lot 10 and the east tennis courts on the University of Toledo campus.
The 26.2-mile course traversed Old Orchard, Ottawa Hills, the University/Parks Trail, Olander Park in Sylvania, and Wildwood Metropark before culminating at midfield in the Glass Bowl.
"To be honest, I was a little disappointed when they moved it out of downtown," Folk said. "But I was impressed today. It was a good course, and there was a lot of support along the way. There were a couple lonely stretches, but finishing on the bike path really helped."
Woodward concurred, adding that she found the new course much more runner-friendly.
"It was pretty easy," Woodward said. "It was very flat, a lot different from when it was downtown, but I liked it."
The Toledo Roadrunners Club organized the event. It drew 455 marathoners; nearly 3,500 registered to compete in the various divisions.
NOTES: The first-place finisher in yesterday's half marathon was Ryan Greutman, 31, of South Bend, Ind., in 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 57 seconds. The top female finisher was Sara Vergote, 29, of Toledo, in 1 hour, 18 minutes, and 39 seconds. … The 5K run's first-place finisher was 14-year-old Louis Guardiola of Fremont, who clocked in at 18 minutes, 18 seconds. Julie Marino, 31, of Toledo, was the top female finisher in 20 minutes, 59 seconds.
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