Everyday Akron Stories, Non-Profit Feature

Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation | Non-Profit Feature

Akron Marathon finishers

How and when did the non-profit get started? 

In 1999, the making of a world-class running marathon in Akron had begun, but the idea for the event was seeded in 1985 when Akron businessman and community leader Steve Marks ran his first marathon in Columbus. That experience gave him a first-hand view of the potential for a sporting event to boost community pride, involvement, and unity, while also contributing to the health, quality of life and economic vitality of a community.

With the help of his wife Jeannine and the support of many others, Steve began his journey to establish the Akron Marathon. For the next three years, he and his team worked with a legion of volunteers to research the best practices of some of the top races in the country. Numerous committees worked to plan the preparation and implementation of the race, addressing myriad details associated with the logistics of a marathon: traffic control, runner safety, registration, course selection, water stations, runner transportation and much more.

In 2002, the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation was established. A year later, on October 11, 2003, the Akron Marathon made its debut complete with Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of both the Boston and New York marathons, who served as its spokesman; and comedian Jay Leno who provided post-race entertainment for race participants.

In its first year, a total of 3,775 runners participated in either the full 26.2-mile marathon or the five-person relays. More than 3,000 volunteers worked to attend to the mountain of details that would impress runners and bring them back to Akron again.

The Akron Marathon Race Series was launched in 2015 adding two additional events and new distances.

Today, the Akron Marathon hosts over 12,000 participants annually as part of the Akron Marathon Race Series presented by Summa Health.

Running getting started at the Akron Marathon

What are the mission and vision of the non-profit?

The mission of the Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation is to provide a world-class marathon and other events that promote health and fitness, stimulate the local economy, galvanize the community and benefit charitable organizations.

Our vision is to create and manage dynamic, customer centric events and programs that deliver opportunities to promote active lifestyles for all.

What is your focus in now? Who do you help and why? 

The Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation recently completed a strategy session and outlined 3 goals:

  • Promote Akron Marathon Race Series as a Health & Wellness Initiative to Summit County businesses and organizations.
  • Increase Younger Participation in the 18-30 demographic
  • Increase Team Relay Participation by 200+ Teams in the Summit County business community

These goals with have been chosen with a goal of increasing participant numbers to pre-pandemic levels and as well as encouraging the next generation of runners to get involved.

Kids running at an Akron Marathon event

Where is the non-profit headed? What do you hope to accomplish in the future? 

The Akron Marathon looks to promote the Akron Marathon Race Series as a Health & Wellness Initiative to Summit County businesses and organizations.

This can be further broken down as follows:

  • Tap into Summit County Business and Organizations to promote series and showcase that training for and participating in our events can be inclusive for all, improve overall health and wellness, as well as create a movement to improve the life expectancy of our community.
  • Create a committee/advisory council to tap into organizations that serve diverse and underrepresented populations.
  • Have our event participants be representative of the community in which we live.
  • Provide FREE race entries as part of our Blue Line Runnership Program.

To accomplish the goals listed above the Akron Marathon will create a committee/advisory council comprised of leaders in our community who work with diverse and underrepresented populations. This committee/advisory council is in line with the running industries focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Boston Marathon has spearheaded this initiative by creating The Boston Running Collaborative to create a diverse running community and expand access to running and walking in Boston with a focus on communities of color. The Akron Marathon looks to emulate this group in our community to reach areas of the population that are underrepresented in the sport of running.

This committee/advisory council will help us reach new participants that may not have the resources needed to participate in running events. Once potential participants have been identified, they will be referred to our Blue Line Runnership Program.

The Blue Line Runnership program was created to be a philanthropic program dedicated to reaching community members who could not typically afford a race entry, with a focus on serving the underprivileged, disadvantaged, or those struggling with mental health and/or recovery. As part of the Runnership program, runners will receive links to training plans, training emails, and a list of local running groups they can join.

With race distances ranging from 1 mile to 26.2 miles, we offer something for everyone, no matter if they are a seasoned runner or just starting out.

Akron Marathon volunteers

How can people get involved?

Each year the Akron Marathon Race Series utilizes the support of over 1,600 volunteers.

Find out how you can volunteer with the marathon and related events.

Impressive Stats

In the past 20 years the Akron Marathon has:

  • Celebrated 180,975 Blue Line Finishers
  • Raised over $6 million for local Charities
  • Generated $139 million of Economic Impact to the Greater Akron Area
  • Accumulated over 138,084 volunteer hours
Akron Marathon race finishers jumping for joy

Follow this non-profit on social media 

Contact Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation at info@akronmarathon.org or call 330-434-2786. Their offices are located at 155 E. Voris St, Akron, OH 44311. You can also visit the Akron Marathon website.

Special thanks to Katie Riley, Community Outreach Director of Akron Marathon Charitable Corporation, for sending organization information and providing photos. If you’d like a non-profit you’re involved with to be featured on the Everyday Akron blog, sign up today.