FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wheelchair Participants to Test Course
for Road Runner Akron Marathon
Five wheelers participate in 2007 event testing course
for wheelchair compatibility
AKRON, Ohio (Sept. 17, 2007) – After receiving several requests from
individuals in wheelchairs wishing to participate in the 2007 Road Runner
Akron Marathon, race officials have decided to test the course for
compatibility with wheeled vehicles.
All wheeled vehicles have previously been excluded from the course because
of race officials' concerns for the safety of the wheelers as well as
nearby runners. Since receiving requests for participation from wheelers,
race officials have discussed the idea of having wheeled participants in
the race with the USATF, the road racing governing body, as well as several
experienced wheeled racers and have decided to allow a select group of
participants to "test" the course this year.
On Saturday, Sept. 29, three participants in the Road Runner Akron Marathon
will be covering the course in a wheelchair. One participant will complete
the full marathon course, another will participate in a 5K leg of the
relay, and the third will be pushed in his wheelchair by his mother, who
will complete the half marathon. Sometime this fall, two additional highly
experienced wheelchair racers, invited by marathon officials, will wheel
the marathon course behind a police escort to provide further feedback.
"After the test, we will speak with each of the participants to determine
if they felt the course was safe and manageable for wheeled vehicles," said
Race Director Jim Barnett. "With their input, we will revisit our policy on
participants in wheeled vehicles for next year's race. Should we feel
comfortable with these results and subsequent analysis, we will talk to the
city about adding a wheelchair division to the Road Runner Akron Marathon
Barnett says that logistically there is a great deal of work that goes into
developing a wheelchair division for the marathon. Because participants in
wheelchairs are often much faster than runners, city officials and police
must also agree to closing down streets earlier to provide protection for
all marathon participants.
"We hope this test provides us with positive outcomes that allow us to open
a wheelchair division in the marathon," Barnett says.
The wheelers participating this year to test the course say they will be
happy if the marathon can accommodate wheelers in any manner.
"Safety is paramount for any event like this," says Joe Booth, who will
wheel the full marathon. "My goal is to complete the course, provide the
most accurate feedback possible, and if it's feasible, help open the door
for an abundance of wheelers to participate in the future."
Booth deals with partial paralysis on his ride side from a burn that caused
his right leg to be amputated at age 18. He also is suffering from a brain
tumor. After the amputation, Booth spent 15 years as a professional
motocross athlete, racing with just one leg. He currently trains for the
marathon by spending hours on cardio machines and wheeling multiple miles
on Summit County's bike and hike trails.
Miller's Party Rental Center of Akron and Invacare Corporation have offered
to provide Booth with a racing wheelchair at a discounted price. Booth, who
lives on Social Security because of his brain tumor, is hoping to get
sponsors to help him cover the remaining $2,600 cost of the racing chair.
Individuals or organizations interested in sponsoring Mr. Booth can contact
him directly at 330-998-1688.
All three wheeled participants in this year's race are Akron-area residents
and say they look forward to participating on behalf of the disabled
population in an event that holds such importance to the city.
The Road Runner Akron Marathon, which will hold its fifth annual race on
Saturday, Sept. 29, enables runners of any skill level to compete in the
event by running in the full marathon, the new half marathon, a 5-person
relay or a 2-person relay. Through the array of available events, runners
are able to choose their distances from 3.1, 6.2, 7.6, 10.7, 13.1, 15.5 or
For the second year, all runners who complete the full marathon will
receive a free pair of running shoes. This year, Brooks Sports will be
offering a number of male and female shoe styles from which runners can
The Road Runner Akron Marathon is organized by the Akron Marathon
Charitable Corporation, a nonprofit group that is dedicated to promoting
health and fitness. Additional information on the Road Runner Akron
Marathon, Half Marathon and Team Relays is available at
www.akronmarathon.org or by calling (330) 375-2786 (2RUN).