Ottney: 26.2 by 5Written by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | email@example.com
I spent the wee hours of April 27 tossing, turning and trying not to stress about the marathon relay I’d be running in a few short hours at the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon.
It wasn’t so much the running part that worried me. Although the record-breaking winter had put a serious dent in my intended training schedule, my leg was the shortest of the five — “only” 4.4 miles. It was more the logistics involved in coordinating five people and four handoffs over 26.2 miles amid what was expected to be a crowd of more than 7,000 runners, a difficulty compounded by the fact that more than half of our team had never met.
When three of our original teammates were forced to step out because of health, injury or other reasons, Toledo Free Press Design Editor James A. Molnar and I reached out to friends and family members and recruited three new runners.
Through a combination of luck, last-minute planning and some race-day selfies, we managed to successfully navigate each handoff.
Our first blessing was the weather. Unlike last year’s rainy marathon, this year was chilly but clear and sunny. Unbeknownst to us, our team’s first runner, Eric, was having a bit of a stressful start to his morning. As he later posted on Facebook: “How to run a real race: Wake up at 6:40 in Maumee. Put shorts on inside out. Park illegally. Run a half mile to starting line. Arrive just in time at 7am. Run faster than expected.”
Perkins Township firefighters Brian Hackenburg and Matthew Riggle both ran in honor of their former co-worker, Toledo firefighter James Dickman, who was killed in January at a Toledo apartment fire. Hackenburg ran the full marathon and Riggle ran the half. Seeing that really put my measly 4.4 miles with no extra weight in perspective.
After getting caught in traffic driving across town — plus a quick pit stop to use the facilities — I arrived at my own exchange point with about a minute to spare. I’d barely gotten into position when I saw our second runner coming down the road.
I realized seconds after I started running that I’d never sent a selfie to our fourth runner, James, to let him know what I was wearing, so I snapped one and texted it to him while running. Knowing he was waiting for me and my team was counting on me kept me going the whole distance, where I might have been tempted to stop for a break if I were on my own.
After James handed off to our final runner, his sister Jessica, we headed to the Glass Bowl to cheer her on at the finish line. As we walked across the University of Toledo campus, we happened to spot her coming and James decided to jump back in the race. They ran the final mile together and crossed the finish line holding hands.
We surprised ourselves by clocking in just under four hours. Our time of 3:59:05 was good enough for 85th out of 243 relay teams and 30th of the 81 teams in the mixed open category.
My favorite part of checking results is looking at the other team names. Among my favorites were “Between a Walk and a Hard Pace” from Maumee, “Are We There Yet?” from Perrysburg and “Your Pace or Mine?” from Toledo. The last-place relay team — “WTF! Where’s the Finish?” from Maumee — made me chuckle. I’m glad they found it.
All in all, my first time was a great experience and I’d do it again next year. Maybe even the half. Just kidding.
Sarah Ottney is managing editor of Toledo Free Press and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.