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Published: Monday, 4/23/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

NOTEBOOK

Marathon helps keep competitors feeling young

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ann Fleck, 75, of Toledo, finishesing the half marathon. Ann Fleck, 75, of Toledo, finishesing the half marathon.
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Looking as satisfied and fresh as any of the 2,142 runners that finished the half marathon at the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon on Sunday were the race’s oldest competitors.

Toledoan Ann Fleck, 75, may have been older than any other female runner but she beamed with pride after completing the event in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 37 seconds.

Equally chipper was 81 year-old Everett Luoma. The Adrian, Mich. resident was the oldest male competitor.

Fleck seemed quite fresh after placing 1,956th overall.

“You get a year older and you get another minute or two slower,” Fleck said.

The former Ottawa Hills teacher, who has been running for 35 years, said she has participated in the full marathon about 15 times. She said she has run 70 marathons in her lifetime.

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Fleck said she continues to run in the events for the sense of accomplishment.

“You never have to wait for someone else, you can always go out and do it on your own,” Fleck said. “You don’t’ have to have a lot of equipment. But you do have to have a lot of determination.”

PHOTO GALLERY: CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE FROM THE GLASS CITY MARATHON

Fleck said she goes for 15 mile runs about three times before the event. She said she plans to continue running in it for years to come.

“I’d like to hit 80,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

At 81, Luoma crossed the finish line in 3:17:43. He placed 924th among all male runners.

“I feel good,” Luoma said shortly after completing the race. “I took it easy. I saw I couldn’t go under three hours. I just wanted to finish.”

Luoma said he has been running for more than 50 years. He said he used to run the marathon, but no longer does because of the six-hour time restriction.

“I would if I could,” he said.

He runs 10 miles every week at a 2:55 half-marathon pace.

“If I ever stop it is forever,” Luoma said. “Plus it’s the only social life I really have. It’s the Toledo Road Runners Club and I love the group. I would miss it terrible if I were to stop. So you just have to keep on going.”

Luoma said he takes special pride in being the oldest competitor.

“I will be here next year and I hope to do better. I can’t let anyone sneak up on me,” he said with a chuckle.

WHEELING TO VICTORY: Toledoan Richard Biggins, 43, won the wheeler division on Sunday.

Biggins was the first to cross the finish line in the marathon. His time was 2:10:54.

It was the fourth time Biggins competed in the marathon and he’s won his class every year. His first title came in 2009. Biggins said he was hampered a bit by the chilly weather conditions with temperatures in the upper 30s.

“It was cold so it slowed me down. Anything under 50 degrees really slows me down,” he said.

A quadriplegic, Biggins said he was injured in a train accident when he was in college. Biggins, who works as a dietician, said he competes in nine races per year.

“I do this to stay in shape. It’s hard to keep the weight off,” he said.

Biggins said he trains about 120 miles per week on his specially designed apparatus which uses a hand crank to move.

“It works like a bike. It’s all shoulders and arms,” he said. “The feeling is just now coming back. My arms and hands go numb at about mile five.

“It’s a lot of shaking your arms out.”

Biggins said he first got into racing to compete with his co-workers.

“Some guys that I work with are marathoners, so I got into the sport also. Now I travel through the nation and do the hand-crank races,” he said. “You hear your name and it’s a nice feeling. When I get into the bigger races with more competition it’s feels good to still have that competitive edge.”

Biggins said he competed in the event the last time it was held in downtown in 2009. He said the new course is more scenic.

“Downtown I liked going over the High Level bridge. That was always a challenge,” he said.

COUPLES RETREAT: Bill and Shannon Sanford of South Toledo ran alongside each other in the half marathon. Bill, 58, finished 47th in his age group and Shannon, 45, was 63rd in her division.

The husband and wife completed the half marathon in 2:19:04.

“I did about what I thought. My wife is a lot faster but she decided to run slow and ran with me the whole race,” Bill Shannon said. “She kept me going.”

Shannon Sanford, who had a foot injury, participated for the first time.

“It was a lot of fun,” Shannon said. “I loved it. It’s like a big social event. There were families were out watching and kids in their pajamas. It really kept you going.”

Both said they will run in it again. They trained three days a week for this year’s event.

FIRST TIME’S THE CHARM: Competing in the half marathon for the first time, Sylvanian Dave McGranahan said he hit his goal.

McGranahan, who has a prosthetic leg, finished in 2:44:20. He placed 1,923rd overall.

The 42-year-old said he typically participates in Olympic-distance triathlons and usually does not run more than 10 miles.

“I wanted to take a shot at running a half marathon to see what I could do,” he said.

“I came in under my target. I hit my goal.”

McGranahan said he started running in 2002. He also coaches the track team at St. Joseph Catholic School in Sylvania.

“We have kids out here running in the relay,” he said. “It was a really good time. I’ll be back next year.”

LENDING A HAND: Tom Falvey was among more than 1,000 volunteers on Sunday.

Falvey, a longtime leader in the running community, said participation in the marathon has increased 500 percent since director Clint McCormick took over three years ago.

“It’s gone from 1,100 to 6,000 runners,” he said.

Falvey said the Toledo running community is a tight knit group.

“You just feel so good after you do it. Even if you don’t win your own age group, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment,” Falvey said.

Full race results are available at glasscitymarathon.org.



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