Rite Aid Cleveland Perseveres in Face of Unprecedented Weather Conditions

Thousands of volunteers and spectators support participants

CLEVELAND (May 15, 2016) – Neither sleet, nor snow, nor rain and low temperatures could keep nearly 15,000 runners from competing in the 39th annual Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. Despite temperatures in the mid-30s, spirits were high at the starting line just outside the Quicken Loans Arena, the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Behind the scenes, a small army of University Hospitals staff and race volunteers mobilized to ensure racers would remain safe and accomplish their goals.

Executive Race Director Jack Staph said, “Our participants should be so proud of their accomplishments today. Finishing a race, of any distance, is laudable and persevering in challenging weather is even more impressive. “Also,” he said, “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way our volunteers, staff and medical team stepped up and ensured the best possible experience we could provide. You never know what type of weather you’ll get in Cleveland, and after a year of hard work and preparation, I’m very glad we could quickly adapt to best serve our runners.”

Philemon Terer, 30, of Kenya, won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:18:42, while Hirut Guangul, 24, of Ethiopia, won the women’s marathon, completing the course in 2:40:33. Terer, the 2013 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon winner, held the lead for the last 10 miles of the race after spending 16 miles in a pack of five, which dwindled to three competitors later on. He kept a very even pace, taking water multiple times and consuming a gel at mile 18 as the hail started to take its toll. Guangul, who finished third in last year’s women’s full marathon, also held a solo lead for a significant amount of the race.

Abraham Chelanga, 31, from Kenya, came in second in the men’s marathon with a time of 2:22:00. He was followed by 29-year-old Josaphat Too from Morristown, N.J. at 2:25:15. Aurelia Rutto, 27, of Kenya, finished second in the women’s marathon with a time of 2:52:13. She was followed by Caitlin Oviatt, 29, from Dayton, Ohio, who finished in 3:05:58. Marathon winners Terer and Guangul each won $3,000, and Terer collected an additional $3,000 bonus for finishing under 2:20:00.

The 39th annual event included a 10K, half marathon and full marathon on Sunday and a 5K, 8K and Kids’ Run on Saturday. Walking divisions were offered in all race distances. This was also the first year of the marathon’s Challenge Series, which gave competitors an opportunity to compete in more than one race over the weekend. With tens of thousands of people heading downtown for the Health & Fitness Expo and races, more than $18 million was pumped into the Cleveland economy during the three-day event.

Race officials raised the red weather flag just moments after the men’s marathon winner crossed at 9:18 am due to the conditions. “Despite the weather, our city still turned out to support the runners,” said Staph. “Thousands of volunteers came out, and there were residents cheering and partying all through Ohio City, Tremont, Rocky River and Lakewood. This is a tough city, and we support our athletes whole-heartedly. I’m very thankful to all those who helped make the day special for our participants.”

Elite Kenyan runners dominated the top slots in the 10K competition with Amos Sang, 27, of Kenya, winning the men’s competition, and Jebichi Yator, 28, of Kenya, winning the women’s side. Sang, who placed third in the 2015 Rite Aid 10K, finished in 31:39, and Yator clocked in at 35:35. On the men’s side, Edward Tabut, 32, of Kenya, finished second with a time of 31:48, and Julius Kiptoo, 38, of Toledo, Ohio came in at 32:01. The second place finisher in the women’s 10K was Mary Wangui, 23, from Kenya, with a time of 35:48, and Molly Watchke, 45, from New Bremen, Ohio, finished third with a time of 38:05.

Sam Coates-Finke, 22, of Oberlin, Ohio, won the half marathon race, finishing in 1:12:40. Manlius, N.Y., resident, Chris Raulli, 28, followed closely and took second with a time of 1:12:48, while 26-year-old Brett Wagner of Cleveland, finished third, running 1:12:54. Kristi Hill, 36, also of Cleveland, led the women’s half marathon with a time of 1:24:14. Tammy Putt, 31 of Allegany, N.Y., took second with a time of 1:24:43, followed by 27-year-old Brooke Adams, who rounded out the top three with a time of 1:25:56.

Sunday’s events also included the 11th annual We Run This City youth marathon program, which had 600 school-aged participants from Cleveland Municipal School District. Most of the kids ran the final 1.2 miles of their 26.2-mile training that occurred throughout the spring. Other students opted for longer events at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, with an impressive 250 students registered for the 10K and another 50 in the half marathon. The youth health and fitness program has won national awards and produced thousands of youth runners in Cleveland. Information is available at www.clevelandymca.org/youth-marathon-program.html.

The 5K and 8K on Saturday drew nearly 1,500 runners and walkers, many raising funds for a charity of their choice. In addition, nearly 1,000 children in the 12-and-under age group participated in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Kids’ Run at Edgewater Park on Saturday morning.

Brennan Crawford, 19, of Amherst, Ohio, claimed Saturday’s 5K in 16:06. In the women’s race, 37-year-old Megan Chambers of Brookpark, Ohio, won with a time of 21:35. For the inaugural 8K race, Andrew Belzer, 31, from Bay Village, Ohio, claimed first place with 29:09, while Kristina Walter, 30, from Cleveland, claimed the women’s title with a 31:18 finish.

The Challenge Series was created in order to provide opportunities for runners looking for additional miles during race weekend, allowing runners to compete in one race on Saturday and one on Sunday. After earning those two medals, the 500 Challenge Series runners received a special third medal. The two-day challenge offered the following combinations:
• 8K and full marathon (Total Distance 31.2 miles)
• 8K and half marathon (Total Distance 18.1 miles)
• 5K and 10K (Total Distance 9.3 miles)

The 2016 finish line area, which featured live music, a beer garden sponsored by and offering Great Lakes Brewing Company beer, a Tito’s Vodka tent and retro trailer, food vendors and sponsor and charity booths, still pulled in thousands of family and friends of runners through the end of the event.

“This course, including the start and finish areas, features the best and brightest spots in Cleveland, and despite the weather conditions, we hope it put the city in a great light for the thousands of runners who come into town,” said Staph. “Showcasing this great city and providing an all-inclusive sporting event is very important to our staff.”

Official race results of all finishing participants are available on the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon website at www.clevelandmarathon.com by clicking on the “2016 Race Results” button.

Again this year, 2017 registration will not be open immediately. The public will be notified via email and social media, as well as a posting on the website when registration is set to open. In celebration of its upcoming 40th anniversary, discounted registration rates will be available for a short time at the start of registration. Information will be posted online at www.clevelandmarathon.com.

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About the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon
The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is in its 39th year of providing a fitness experience for all individuals who want to participate regardless of their abilities. The event offers a Kids’ Run, 5K, 8K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon – all of which participants can choose to run or walk. Nearly 420,000 runners have participated, generating more than $18 million annually to benefit the Cleveland community.www.clevelandmarathon.com

Mission Statement:
• To provide a running experience for all individuals who want to participate regardless of their abilities.
• To produce an event that highlights the Cleveland community and provides a positive economic impact for the community.
• To give charities an opportunity to benefit financially from the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 8K and 5K events.



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