By Aaron Z. Haydu
Toledo is known to many Ohioans as its gateway to the north. But to those who stopover, and those who live there, it’s readily evident that Ohio’s northwest is a real gem of the state and worth exploring. For runners, Toledo is the place to be for sure.
Its long running history dates back to 1971 and earlier. From the annual spring marathon (Glass City), a top Boston Qualifier with a field of 10,000 and that has become a 3-day event for the whole family to enjoy, to Dave’s Running Shop, the oldest running shop in Ohio and a Top 50 Running Store in America; Toledo has been on the forefront of running as a sport and lifestyle.
There is so much to do in Toledo that you can take the whole family and make a weekend of it. Downtown Toledo is in the midst of a modern revitalization that will continue adding to the fun. Their Metroparks are many and beautiful, with activities for all to enjoy. Water life is on its doorstep too. The mighty Maumee River runs through it and borders the Great Lake Erie with just a short boat ride to Put-in-Bay.
The Toledo Museum of Art and Glass Pavilion are world- renowned, and the Toledo Zoo is one of the best around. Toledo’s Huntington Center, Stranahan Theater, Imagination Station and Toledo Rep offer premium entertainment all year round. And don’t forget about Fifth Third Field, rated one of the top ballparks in the country. It is home to the world famous Toledo Mud Hens triple-A baseball team, in the heart of downtown. If it’s dining you’re looking for, look no further. You’ll find cuisine to suit every palate and taste, in all corners of the greater Toledo area.
What’s more, Toledo is home to the popular “Run the 419 Grand Prix Series” which offers a running experience like none other. The Series consists of five events, in Long Track and Short Track forms to accommodate varying abilities and preferences. Each event highlights a different region of the Toledo Metro area, giving participants the opportunity to experience unique courses with scenic views of the city by foot.
The WTOL River Run 10k kicks off the Series with a tour of downtown Toledo. Runners start near the historic Cherry Street drawbridge, run south through downtown along the Maumee River before climbing the High Level Bridge. The run continues north along the east side of the river before crossing back in the shadow of the beautiful new Veteran’s Skyway Bridge and back to a waterside finish line. This is one of the most scenic courses around.
If that weren’t good enough, the next event in the Series is the Muddy Mini point-to-point half or quarter marathon starting in Maumee and finishing in centerfield where the Mud Hens play. Take the whole family for this one; there’s a 5k being added in 2019 as well. This scenic route takes runners past the riverview at Sidecut Metropark, and north along historic River Road, past the Toledo Zoo to a Fifth Third Field entrance from under the outfield bleachers, along the warning track to the finish in centerfield.
The race culminates with a party inside Hensville Park, adjacent to the stadium, where a live band will be playing, kids entertainment is setup and hotdogs, hamburgers, beer and soda are served – all included in registration.
The third race is locally considered an original border battle with a taste of Michigan included – where runners will pit bragging rights for their favorite team on who finishes the race first. The Ohio-Michigan 8k is a mid-week race and also a Dave’s Running Shop Customer Appreciation event. Start in Ohio, run across the border to Michigan and circle back to a post-race party that goes well past dark. Centennial Terrace is the host for this event, with the adjoining Quarry open for swimming until dusk. Burgers, bratwurst, beer and sides are served while a live band plays on stage.
The Series continues with the Boy Scout Half Marathon, 10k and 5k tour of Bowling Green, running along Main Street in downtown to a finish at the Wood County Fairgrounds; then the finale Rock’tober, where live bands entertain you from start to finish.
If you want to know what the running community is like in northwest Ohio, register for the WTOL River Run 8k and the Muddy Mini Half Marathon, Quarter Marathon and 5k. Once you get a taste of Toledo at these races, you’ll be going back for more; winter, spring, summer and fall.
And remember what they say about the flat terrain in northwest Ohio, “You’ll run faster in Toledo.”
All race details and registration information for the Series can be found on www.runtoledo.com.
Run the 419