By Crystal Siembida Boggs
Discover what local runners have been excited about for years by running the third annual Youngstown Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K on Sunday, October 27, 2019. While the marathon itself may only be in its third year, historic Mill Creek Park, which is featured in all three distances, has been claiming a loyal following of avid trail and road runners for years.
Mill Creek Park was founded by Volney Rogers in 1891 as a way to provide public health benefits to the rapidly growing City of Youngstown as well as to prevent the acreage around Mill Creek Gorge in the current parkland from being completely milled out by the local sawmills. With over 2,600 acres of land, Mill Creek Park is one of the largest parks in the country and is ranked as the top metropolitan park by size in the United States. It also hosts the title of being the first park district to be established in the state of Ohio.
Participants in the full and half marathon will be delighted with views of multiple bridges, lakes, and plenty of shaded area due to the quantity of trees within the park. For the first time, the race takes place in the fall and will provide runners with a view of autumn foliage in the park. Mark Lipinsky, CEO of the Youngstown Marathon Foundation, noted, “I’m really excited for our race this year. October is a beautiful time to run in Mill Creek Park, registration is exceeding expectations, and the course will be a Boston Qualifier.”
After running, participants can extend their stay and take in the other opportunities within the park including the Ford Nature Center, over 15 miles of nature trails, Fellows Riverside Garden, Lanterman’s Mill, and opportunities to stay active with biking, boating, fishing, and golf just to name a few.
Runners participating in the full marathon will get to see a portion of downtown Youngstown including Youngstown State University while running miles 9 to 13. All races start in front of Second Sole on Route 224 with the 5k beginning 15 minutes after the marathon and half marathon distances.
All races share a mutual finish line on Ron Park Place which is right next to the after party. There is plenty of free on-site parking next to the start/finish lines of the race.
The Covelli Center, home of the Youngstown Phantoms, a junior league hockey team, will be host to this year’s expo. The free health and fitness expo, presented by NovaCare, is open to all participants as well as the public and takes place the day prior to the race from 10:00 am-5:00 pm.
The Youngstown Marathon Expo features booths from companies as varied as HelloFresh to 81 Originals, a locally owned running-themed clothing line. Participant packet pick-up, pacer and ambassador meet and greets, and a Kid’s Fun Run at 11:30 am will be part of the day’s festivities. Expo Director, Crystal Siembida Boggs, stated, “I’m excited for this year’s expo as we are bringing back a few vendors from past years as well as some new ones. Our goal is to increase attendance within the public sector as well because the health and fitness expo isn’t just for runners alone!”
The public will also be able to visit each of the recipients receiving proceeds from the 2019 event. The Youngstown Marathon Foundation board recently named Youngstown Blue Coats and Beatitude House as the recipients of donations from the 2019 race proceeds. A third beneficiary will be announced after a participant vote. In its first two years the Youngstown Marathon Foundation was able to donate $24,000 to local charity partners including Youngstown United Way, Youngstown CityScape, and the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley.
For the third year, Chemical Bank, Mercy Health, and Second Sole are the presenting partners of the Youngstown Marathon. See them at the after party, participating in contests during the registration year, and along the course. Josh Boggs, Vice President of the Youngstown Marathon, stated, “Due to the proximity to Halloween, we will be seeing some great costumes and holiday-themed water stations along the course. We might even see awards for a costume category.”
Siembida Boggs commented, “The great part of coming to a big city race like Youngstown is that there are things to do before and after the event itself. Bring your family and check out the OH Wow Center, a personal favorite of mine, or come with friends and check out some of the unique dining experiences in the Valley. You just ran a marathon and you deserve to eat whatever you crave!”
Speaking of food, the Youngstown Marathon Foundation is in the early stages of planning a spaghetti dinner the night before featuring Marie Bartoletti, who has run over 450 marathons, and Erik Reed, who was the winner of the 2018 Youngtown Marathon.
Registration is open, including on race day, for all three race distances and full race details can be found online at www.youngstownmarathon.com.