The men met through business and started running about the same time.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Three area business acquaintances who took up running about the same time in 1997 and have become close running buddies, are getting ready to run in their second marathon together.
Jim Dascenzo and Chuck Petzinger, both from Canfield, and Kerry Kimerer of Boardman will take their three-man show to the Pittsburgh Marathon for the first time Sunday after opening as a team in the Towpath Marathon near Hudson in October 2000.
In all, Dascenzo, 35, and Petzinger, 41, already have run in four marathons while Kimerer, 35, has run in three. Petzinger also evolved into a triathlon specialist and has competed in 20 in about the last two years, including the grueling Iron Man Triathlon last July in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Test of stamina: Last year, Dascenzo and Kimerer, minus Petzinger, ran the Pittsburgh Marathon, which they found very demanding and a strong test of their stamina.
"It was unseasonably warm and it made a tough course that much tougher," said Dascenzo, a graduate of Ursuline High. "It was my worst time ever in a marathon. It was 3:55, which is about a half-hour longer than my best time which is 3:25."
He blamed his sub-par performance on the "heat and humidity. When we finished the race it was 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity."
However, Dascenzo called the Pittsburgh race "the best marathon I ever run in. It starts in downtown. It takes you pretty much all around Pittsburgh. Probably the nicest part is when you run through Oakland and the residential areas where people are out standing on the course. It helps you get a feel for Pittsburgh, as to what it is [like] in the downtown area. It allows you to see other parts of the city."
His prediction on how the trio will fare: "We'll finish this race within 10 minutes of each other. And anyone of us can beat the other. We are pretty evenly matched."
Met in business: Their relationship began when Dascenzo met Petzinger, a Boardman High graduate, and Kimerer, from Western Reserve High, in the business world. Dascenzo is a certified public accountant with Hill, Barth and King, while Petzinger owns Pan Atlas Travel Service, and Kimerer is in management at WKBN-TV.
"We all started running about the same time," said Dascenzo, noting that Metzinger began first. "Chuck started running to lose weight. I started running to get in shape for baseball. I guess Kerry started running because we did. We started out doing shorter races, and then marathons."
The trio now run together on weekends and have become close friends.
"When you run with a couple of guys you like, you have a ball," said Dascenzo, noting that they ran 22 miles a recent Saturday.
"We get along so well. I'll equate it to being a baseball player -- the camaraderie you have in the dugout. We do the same thing, except with running. Instead of nine guys, just the three of us."
Schedule: Dascenzo said he runs almost everyday. "During the week, I get up early in the morning and do my runs. On the weekend, I run with Chuck and Kerry," said Dascenzo, noting that they usually cover from 10-20 miles together.
Dascenzo never thought he would become a runner.
"I used to hate running. If you would have told me a few years back that I would be running marathons, I would have told you were crazy," said Dascenzo, who used to play baseball and softball.
"Once I quit [playing baseball and softball], I continued to run and enjoyed it. I just got competitive with running." But, "Four years ago I was not a runner."
After starting to run in May, 1997, Dascenzo ran his first marathon in October, 1998.
Triathlons: Petzinger got into triathlon competition because he wanted variety and more of a challenge.
"I like to do more than just run, so I started getting into the triathlons about two years ago, and since then I've done about 20," said Petzinger.
He said that in the Iron Man Triathlon, "You swim 2 1/2 miles, bike 112 miles and run the marathon.
"We do the marathons in about 3 1/2 hours. The triathlon took about 12 hours."
He said some people take rests during the triathlon, but that he "stopped only to change clothes."
He plans to run the Iron Man again in Lake Placid in July.