Some Akron Marathon relay team names hint at a deeper meaning, leaving spectators to wonder what might be going on in the lives of team members.
Here’s a sampling of some of the nearly 1,200 teams registered for Saturday’s race.
“Stroke” of Luck
Megan Scharville, Dan Scharville, Melanie Nero, Rich Nero, Kevin Gluntz.
Just before last year’s race, Melanie Nero suffered a stroke at the age of 39. It “scared the heck out of us all,” Gluntz said, but the team feels lucky to be together again to run this year. Rich Nero said that doctors credit his wife’s healthy lifestyle and marathon training for her quick recovery.
Papa D and the Meatballs
Pat, Susan, Scott, Steve and Annette DiMauro.
Papa D is Pat DiMauro and the meatballs are his children and daughter-in-law, Annette. The team (of Italian descent, of course) was formed to honor Pat, who started running last year after giving up his cigars. Daughter Susan said the siblings were inspired by his “couch-to-5K” plan.
Nick Stewart, Kristy Voll, Kyle Livengood, Nicholas Sugar, Kyle Reisz.
Team members are Justin Bieber fans (aka Bieber Fever). “The only thing we love more than Justin is Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s cheap and delicious,” said Voll, noting that PBR could phonetically be pronounced Pieber. The team will have T-shirts of a PBR wearing Bieber’s hair.
Rick Nicodemus, James Cottrell, Bob McDonald, Russ Moses, Ralph Palumbo.
“Given that we are all 58-plus years of age and what hair that is left is gray, and since we cheer each other on at times with the phrase ‘Go, big dog!” we decided to use a play on the word greyhound,” Nicodemus said.
Jeffrey Heintz, John Ryba, Becky Ryba, Andy Ryba, Meaghan DeJohn.
All are graduates of Ohio University, home of the Bobcats. Heintz said he ran last year as part of his recovery from prostate cancer surgery. This year, he runs for his wife, who is recovering from a cerebral hemorrhage, and for “the great care she’s receiving at Akron City Hospital.”
Rays of Hope
Joann Zarkovacki, Rebecca Moreland, Ruth Chapman, Lillian Zarkovacki, Rebecca Berkes.
The team runs to raise awareness for Rahab Ministries, a Christian ministry Moreland founded to offer “healing and support” to downtown Akron prostitutes. Team captain Joann Zarkovacki interned with the group and “was absolutely touched by the transformation which the Lord is bringing to these broken women.”
Robert McCarty, Dennis Roberts, Steve Wagner, Michael Lauck, Charles Novak.
For six years, members have run five days a week along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the predawn hours, not unlike their namesakes scurrying in the dark. This over-40 group is intent on winning the men’s master relay this year, Roberts said.
Couch Potato Pirates
Joseph Javorsky, Michael Lewan, Brian Bendlak, Amanda Kephart, Dan Kephart.
“Our team name describes us pretty much, at least in terms of running,” Amanda said. It’s the team’s first Akron Marathon, and four of the five will be running farther than they have run before. Dan’s job transferred him to California this year, but he’ll fly in just for the event.
Real Housewives of Summit County
Rebecca Fleming, Jill Ma-lone, Darby Gravino, Jessica Endress, Donna Jackson.
The wives — two blondes, two brunettes and a redhead — live in a close neighborhood where they “like to have fun, kick back with a martini or beer and hang out with good friends,” Fleming said. But they are also “passionate, successful and driven women and feel that we are a much better representation of the ‘real’ housewives” than their TV show counterparts.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.