By Charles Grove
Runners from the Mahoning Valley to as far away as Maryland and Alaska took part in Sunday’s first Youngstown Marathon.
Race director Courtney Poullas said more than 1,200 participants ran in the marathon, half marathon, 5K and kids run.
The race began on Route 224 just west to the entrance to Mill Creek Park before heading north throughout the scenery, running around Lake Newport and Lake Cohasset.
Those running the full 26.2 miles also went past Lake Glacier and onto Mahoning Avenue before making a loop through downtown Youngstown, running down Federal Street and Commerce Street.
North Canton’s Tony Migliozzi won the full marathon, finishing in 2:36:48, and his girlfriend Sara Polatas was the first female to finish, completing her race in 3:11:50.
Migliozzi is no stranger to finishing first. He won the Akron Marathon last year and has won the 50-kilometer world championship the last two years and qualified for the Olympic trials in 2016.
“I hadn’t ran over 19 miles in training for this because of an Achilles’ injury so just the distance for this was really difficult,” Migliozzi said. “But the fans out here is what got me though it.”
Migliozzi, 27, called the layout of the first-year course ideal.
“It’s so wide it’s great for running,” Migliozzi said. “It’s the perfect place to have a race. It’s super scenic and it’s shaded so if it’s ever hot the sun is never going to be beating down on you.”
Migliozzi had so much fun he made sure he had a beer waiting for him right at the finish line.
“I had someone phone in a beer about six miles out,” Migliozzi said.
“I said, ‘I need a beer at the finish line,’ and it’s amazing. I needed it.”
Polatas, 24, said the conditions for a marathon in the summer were about as good as you can get. The combination of the shade from the park along with temperatures in the 60s and low humidity made for great running weather.
“For June this is geat,” Polatas said. “You can’t ask for much better in June.”
While the shade and weather made things easier for runners, the consensus was the hilly nature posed quite a challenge and made for an interesting race.
“This was the hardest half marathon I’ve done,” Gina Shiderly of New Castle said.
“I’ve done Columbus, I’ve done North Park, I’ve done Pittsburgh and this was by far the hardest half.”
Shiderly, 54, completed her 13.1 mile race in 2:46:27, 24th best in her division.
“It was challenging but it was fun because it was in the park. I enjoyed it and I’ll do it again,” Shiderly said.
Austintown’s Jonathan “Scooby” Bolha, 35, finished the marathon in 2:53:53, good enough for third overall. This was Bolha’s third marathon in 15 days, all of which he finished in under three hours.
“I thought this one would be harder with the hills, but I did well,” Bolha said. “I did better than I thought I would do.”
East Liverpool’s Erik Reed, 28, is no stranger to marathons himself. He competed in this year’s Boston Marathon but was happy there’s now a local race.
Reed came in second overall Sunday, running his marathon in 2:49:43.
“Usually marathons are like a full weekend but this one’s nice because you wake up at home, drive up here, run it and get to enjoy the day afterwards,” he said.
“It makes it really nice and it was well put together from the course to the people handing out drinks.”