Perrysburg man wins his second Columbus MarathonWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The fastest man in Columbus lives in the Toledo area.
Matt Folk, a 35-year-old runner from Perrysburg, won the 2011 Columbus Marathon on Oct. 16 over a field of 4,745 runners. Folk has won the Columbus Marathon in both of his two attempts, earning his first victory in 2009.
“When I started in high school I couldn’t do three miles without walking,” Folk said. “Now not only can I do a marathon, but I can race it as well. Just try not to set any barriers on yourself and you will be surprised with your body adapting and how many things you can achieve.”
Folk tied a career-best time of 2:19.47 in his marathon victory in Columbus, nearly one minute faster than his winning time of 2:20.45 in 2009.
The victory, however, was 47 seconds short of the qualifying time for the Olympic trials, one of Folk’s major goals going into the race. That mark would have been accepted if not for a recent change in the qualifying times, which used to be 2:20.
“If they would have left it to the old standards I would have qualified again but unfortunately they made it a bit tougher this time around,” Folk said.
Folk qualified for the Olympic trials in 2004 and 2008 but was unable to advance further. After missing out on the 2012 Olympic trials by such a close margin, Folk is considering whether to attempt one last effort to qualify, although he is leaning toward taking a break from running. The deadline is Dec. 14 to be eligible for the Jan. 14 Olympic trials.
There is still one race Folk is considering — a half marathon Dec. 4 in Las Vegas. If Folk can earn a time under 1:05, he would be eligible for the Olympic trials. Folk, however, has yet to make that decision.
“As of right now I’m not sure if I’m going to do a marathon next fall or not,” Folk said. “I have been chasing the Olympic trials qualifying time and it’s in January so this was probably my last marathon trying to go after that. I might try and take a little bit of a break from marathons for a year and see how I feel.”
Folk has been a competitive runner since his sophomore year at Clay High School. He continued running in his collegiate career at Youngstown State University but didn’t compete in his first marathon until years later in 2001. Since then, Folk has run in one or two marathons each year.
“I ran competitively in college and high school and it just seemed like the farther the race the better I did,” Folk said. “I just kept bumping up the distance from 5Ks and 10Ks to half marathons and eventually worked my way up to marathons.”
After failing to win in his first eight races, Folk won his first marathon in 2009 in a race close to home. With a time of 2:31.04, Folk won the Glass City Marathon in Toledo. He then proceeded to win his next two marathons, including the 2009 Columbus Marathon, before repeating as the Glass City Marathon Champion in 2010 (2:28.23).
“It’s pretty neat,” Folk said. “It’s funny because the first eight marathons I ran I was nowhere close to winning and then I had a streak where I won Toledo, Columbus and Toledo for three marathons in a row.
“I always wanted to run in Toledo because it is the local race. You always want to try to win your hometown race and everything so it was neat to do that a couple of times.”
Folk took a break from the Columbus Marathon in 2010 to compete in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, where he hoped the increased participants would help carry him to the Olympic trials qualifying time. Folk finished 29th with 2:21.38, two minutes from making the trials.
“The bigger the race, the more guys there are that can pull you along to a faster time,” Folk said.
Folk devotes his life to running, spending the rest of his time at work as the general manager in a store specializing in running apparel. Second Sole is located at the Town Center at Levis Commons, where it has been in business for the past three years.
Folk and Second Sole host group runs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. where all participants run a three-mile loop beginning and ending at the store. Participation is free.