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Perrysburg distance runner Matt Folk didn’t know when or where his parents would pop up on the 26.2-mile marathon course on Sunday morning.
But Bob and Darlene Folk were there to greet their son when Folk was the first to cross the finish line of the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon.
Spurred on by his parent’s encouragement, Folk became the first three-time winner in the 36-year history of Toledo’s annual marathon.
He won with a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 27 seconds. Folk, who also won the marathon in 2009 and 2010, set a course record at the event which started and finished at the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl.
“It means a lot,” Folk said. “It’s a huge local race. I wanted to try to go after the record.”
Moments after his son crossed the finish line, tears welled in Bob Folk’s eyes — the perfect picture of a proud father.
“There is no way to express it,” Bob Folk said. “People don’t know how hard it is.
Bob Folk said he had a tough time driving around the course to wait for Matt.
“They had a lot of security on the course,” he said “But with a smile and a please we were able to follow him around on the course. We gave him encouragement along the way. We knew he would be close to the record time. When we saw him come in a minute better than that, we were elated.”
In the women’s marathon, Jessica Odorcic of Madison, Ohio, took first place with a time of 2:51:52. Odorcic, 30, had never run a marathon before and set a course record in her first attempt.
“This was my first marathon,” Odorcic said. “I wanted to run a marathon when I was 30, and I’ll be 31 in June. So I had to do it soon. I’m really exhausted. It hurt really bad. I have a lot of respect for people who run marathons all the time. For me that was pretty tough. It was worth it. I’m really happy now.”
Folk, 36, said he got off to a very good start before slowing up in the middle.
“But I started running strong again. At about 22 [miles] I ran into another rough patch for a mile or so. But I shook out of it over the last three,” he said. “My dad and mom were driving around different parts of the course. It was pretty cool to see them out there. I didn’t know where they were going to be so that was nice.”
Nearly 6,000 runners participated in the Glass City Marathon, which consisted of the marathon, a half-marathon, five-person marathon relay teams, and a 5-K race. A total of 804 runners finished the marathon.
Temperatures hovered around 37 degrees at the start of the race at 7 a.m.
Evan Gaynor of West Toledo won the half marathon with a time of 1:06:52. It was a personal record for the 23 year old, and he beat out 2,142 other finishers.
Gaynor regularly trains on the course which primarily followed the university’s bike trail before heading north into Ottawa Hills and through Sylvania’s Olander Park.
“It was a great all-around race,” Gaynor said. “I felt really good. Around the seven-mile mark I really took off.”
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Folk said the conditions, which included a slight breeze as temperatures rose into the low 40s, were ideal for him.
“The weather was prefect,” Folk said. “It was nice and cool. It got a little breezy in some parts. But we’ll take this over what it could have been like.”
Ryan Jara, 24, of Syracuse, N.Y., finished second in the marathon with a time of 2:34:02. Maumee’s Ken Richendollar, 37, placed third at 2:37:48.
On the women’s side, Meghan Nolan, 25, placed second in the marathon. Nolan, of Liverpool, N.Y., crossed the finish line in 2:56:18.
Tina Husted, a 39-year-old from Columbus, finished third with a time of 2:58:55. Husted is the wife of Jon Husted, the Ohio Secretary of State.
Clint McCormick, the director of the Glass City Marathon, said total participation was very close to his target of 6,000 people.
“The course did very well. This was a fantastic event,” he said.
McCormick said the women’s marathon was the biggest surprise with three women coming in under three hours.
“That was the most competitive race,” he said.
Odorcic said at the peak of her training, she was running 80 miles a week.
“If I decide to run another one I will do this one again,” she said. “It was a great course. It was flat and there were people cheering all over so that helped out a lot to. The weather was good. I like running in the cold. I’d rather have it like this than too warm.”
Folk said he set the goal of breaking the marathon record and has been training hard for more than six weeks.
“I run a sick amount of miles,” Folk said. “I do 100-plus miles a week for six to nine weeks before the race to condition my body to be able to handle the pounding. Then I really back down the miles so I’m fresh again.”
Bob Folk called his son an “honest runner” and said he has had to overcome many obstacles.
“It’s a lonely sport. It’s not like a football game with people out there. You have to find it within you. That’s where your success comes from. You have to work hard and this is the result,” Bob Folk said. “Not everyone has talent. When he started in high school he was a little pigeon-toed. He wore a brace as he was growing up. He had to work that out. He’s been through a lot.”
Over its first 33 years, the Glass City Marathon took place in downtown Toledo. This was the third year the race was held at UT.
“All in all the conditions were great and the course was great,” Gaynor said.
Gaynor’s running partner, Matt Lemon, placed second in the half marathon. Lemon, whose wife, Maura, won the women’s half marathon, finished in 1:07:44. Ed Altwies of Temperance, Mich., placed third. The 45-year-old finish with a time was 1:12:33.
“Matt and I ran side by side,” Gaynor said. “At around mile seven I took off. Matt was hanging right on me and I was kind of nervous because I know how good of an athlete he is.”
Maura Lemon’s time was 11th best overall in the half marathon.
The runner up in the women’s half marathon was Sara Vergote of Toledo. Vergote, 31, posted a time of 1:20:30. Columbus native Laura Kaulen, 36, placed third at1:22:20.
“I think we put on a pretty good show,” McCormick said.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.