This is the second of five installments that break the Akron Marathon course into its five Team Relay segments. Today: Everything you could possibly want to know about the 6.1 miles that make up Relay Leg No. 2.

Deputy Metro Editor Joe Thomas and I (reporter Paula Schleis) did a video driving tour of all the relay segments and chatted about what you might find, the history of the neighborhoods and some fun facts about the Akron Marathon. Here’s our trip through Relay Leg No. 2:



RACE DAY PARKING DIRECTIONS

The race begins at 7 a.m. so plan to be in the downtown area no later than 6 a.m. If you come later, you will encounter some road closures, not to mention delays caused by the traffic and parking of more than 13,000 runners, 3,000 volunteers and assorted spectators.

For those running Relay Leg No. 2, your recommended parking is at the University of Akron parking deck on Exchange Street. To get there, take state Route 8 and exit at Carroll St./Buchtel Ave. From there, continue onto Fountain Street, turn left on Carroll, then left on Spicer, and right on Exchange. (I’m guessing you’ll just be following the crowd!) Event parking signs will guide you using the color on your racing bib. If you’re doing the relay, your bib will be pink.

IF YOU ARE USING GEAR CHECK

If you want to drop off the clear gear bag provided at Friday’s packet pickup (containing nonbreakable things you’d like to have available to you when you are finished with your race) then when you leave the parking deck onto Exchange, turn right (west) and walk to Main Street, then turn right (north) and walk to Buchtel. Look for the Gear Check flags.

Once you check in your bag, continue up Buchtel until you come to Broadway, then turn left. Take Broadway to the John S. Knight Center. You will find your relay exchange zone on Broadway between Mill and Market streets. There will be corrals with ranges of bib numbers. Find the sign that matches your number and be in that corral by the time you expect your teammate’s arrival.

IF YOU ARE NOT USING GEAR CHECK

From the parking lot, exit onto Exchange Street and turn right (west) and walk to Broadway. At Broadway, turn right (north) and walk to the John S. Knight Center. You will find your relay exchange zone on Broadway between Mill and Market streets. There will be corrals with ranges of bib numbers. Find the sign that matches your number and be in that corral by the time you expect your teammate’s arrival.



RELAY HAND-OFF

Each member of your relay team has his or her own bib, but all the numbers are the same. Actually, you’ll have two bibs - one for the front of your shirt, and one for the back of your shirt. Know your number.

With some 1,200 Relay Leg 2 participants waiting in various corrals, you could be up to a tenth of a mile from the timing mat that your teammate will cross. There will be up to 40 volunteers trying to help your teammate find you quickly, and bib numbers will be announced as they approach. If you know your bib number, you will more likely recognize it when it is called.

When your teammate reaches you, they will hand you a slap bracelet. Put it on and get going!

As you finish your own relay segment near the exchange zone for Relay Leg 3, you will see color-coded signs separating you from the half marathon and marathon runners. Follow the pink sign indicating the side of the road for relay team members.

This is important: When you cross the timing mat at the relay area, do NOT stop running. Again, your teammate may still be quite a distance from you. Keep jogging while looking for the sign with the range that includes your bib number. There will also be volunteers looking at your bib number and trying to match you up quickly. When you find your teammate, hand off the slap bracelet.

For competitive teams hoping to actually win the event, the slap bracelet is vital. But for those of us not expecting to stand in the winner’s circle, if for some reason you drop or lose your bracelet on the course, don’t panic. Just carry on!

Side note: The marathon doesn’t ask what relay leg you are running, so your team has the option of switching things around until the start of the race. The timing device on your bib will tell race officials which leg you ran.

SAG WAGON

The full marathon course is officially open for 6 hours. There is a “Support and Gear” vehicle that brings up the rear. When it passes, roads behind it are reopened and course support such as fluid stations are removed. This vehicle will follow the first half of the marathon course at a pace of about 16 minutes. If you are doing Relay Leg No. 2 faster than 16 minutes, you won’t even know it’s there.

If the wagon passes you up and you are well enough to continue, just move to the sidewalk and keep going. From an official perspective, the race is over after 6 hours. But the Akron Marathon staff has an unofficial tradition of staying at the finish line as long as possible to give latecomers the chance to complete the race and collect their medal.

If you are injured or unable to continue, the vehicle will offer you a lift. In that case, if you have a way of communicating with your teammate on the next leg, notify them that you have withdrawn. That teammate should then leave their relay zone and continue the race. If you do not have a way of contacting your teammate, notify a race official so they can contact the next relay zone and try to get word to your teammate.

Note to our Blue Line Beginners: Our teams are comprised of runners as well as walkers below the 16-minute pace. It is conceivable that the SAG vehicle will pass a walking teammate on one leg, then be passed by a running teammate on the next leg. Regardless on what side of the wagon you find yourself on, just keep following the Blue Line. We are anticipating all of our BLB teams will take the full 6 hours to finish the full marathon course, so don’t let this discourage or stop you.

THE COURSE

Relay Leg No. 2 runs through University Park, down Brown Street, through Firestone Park and then back to downtown Akron.

There is an incline on Brown Street, but much of this route is flat or downhill.

Firestone Park has been missing from the Blue Line course for two years due to construction. It’s expected residents there will be out in full force to welcome the Akron Marathon back. Historically, this neighborhood was developed to serve workers at the Firestone Tire Company - managers and laborers alike - and
features lovely homes on tree-lined streets.

The path back through downtown will feature the brand new one-way road segment that shifts High Street traffic onto South Main. It was just opened a couple of weeks ago and you’ll recognize it by its fresh coat of black asphalt. Since you will be running the opposite direction of the one-way road, you will be going from South Main onto High. Your relay segment will end at High and Selle streets.

FULL MAP TO RELAY LEG 2

COURSE SUPPORT AND HERO ZONES

* You’ll find mile markers at each mile. Clocks and kilometer markers are also located at every 5k to help you judge your pace, although remember those clocks started when the first runner crossed the starting line. If you didn’t cross the line for, say, another 10 minutes, you’ll need to deduct that from the time you see on the clock.

* You’ll find a medical aid station near miles 7 and 9.

* There are fluid stations and portable restrooms at miles 6.5, 8, 9 and 10.4 and 11.

* There is a gel station with Clif Shots at mile 7.7.

* Akron Children’s Hospital, which sponsors the Akron Marathon Race Series, will feature “super hero” patients at special Hero Zones along the course. For Relay Leg No. 2, you’ll encounter Elijah Harper at about mile 6, Spencer Beal near 7 miles, and Tanner Ross at 9 miles, Ethan Herald at 10 miles, Elizabeth Elder approaching 11 miles and Chaniya Jackson just after 11. Give them a high five as you pass them by!



COURSE ENTERTAINMENT

Watch for the following entertainment along the route:

* At the Dollar General on Brown Street, you’ll find the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corp.

* Firestone Park residents have registered as a “Block Party,” so you will see spectators along Firestone Boulevard with cowbells and other noisemakers. This area is also known for residents who pass out marshmallows to runners.

* The Jon Mosey Trio will be set up at mile 10. The band is known as much for its dancing followers as its music.

FINISHER FESTIVAL

When you finish your 6.1 mile leg at High and Selle, walk a block down High to Cedar Street where you’ll find finisher fluids just west of the last corral. Take a moment to hydrate.

To get to the Finisher Festival at Canal Park, continue down Cedar Street to Main Street. Turn right on Main and travel two blocks to Main and Buchtel. If you dropped off a gear check bag, pick it up here. Then go across the street to the Diamond Boardwalk entrance of Canal Park. That is just south of the main entrance. You must be wearing a bib to enter here, and you CANNOT get to the Finisher Festival from the main entrance, so for now you’ll need to stay separated from any supporters waiting for you.



At the Finisher Festival, your bib tickets will treat you to pizza, a snack bag and beverages.

You will not pick up your medal yet. All five medals will be given to your Relay Leg No. 5 teammate to pass out. Many teams will take the full six hours (or even more) to finish the full course. Since you are likely to be at the Finisher Festival hours before your last teammate arrives, if you cannot stay, you’ll need to make arrangements to get your medal another time.

Come back tomorrow for everything you could possibly want to know about Relay Leg 3. Read about Leg 1 here.