This is the third 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 5.3 miles that make up Relay Leg No. 3.

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.3:



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. 3, your recommended parking is at 1) Opportunity Parking Deck (between Broadway and Main, just south of downtown) or 2) Akron Children's Hospital's parking deck on Bowery.

To get to Opportunity Park Deck, take I-77/-I76 to Main/Broadway/Downtown (If you are headed east, you will merge with one-way South Street. Follow South to the second light. At that point, all traffic MUST turn left onto Broadway, which is a one-way street. If you are headed west, this exit merges onto Broadway.) In either case, follow event parking signs for your bib color. Relay team bibs are pink.

To get to Akron Children’s Hospital's Bowery deck, take I-77/I-76. (If you're traveling west, take Exit 21c toward OH 59 E/Dart Ave and turn right onto Boulevard St. If you're traveling east, take Exit 21B toward Lakeshore Blvd/Bowery St. and turn left on Boulevard St.) In both cases, then turn left onto Dart, right onto Opportunity, right on Cedar, left on Bowery. Follow event parking signs for your bib color. Relay team bibs are 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 make your way to the corner of Main and Buchtel and look for the Gear Check flags. This is directly across the street from the main entrance of Canal Park.

1) From Opportunity Parking Deck, exit the deck on High Street and head north, passing your relay exchange zone and continuing to Buchtel. At Buchtel, turn left and go one block to the intersection with Main.... 2) From Children's Bowery deck, go south along Bowery to Exchange, turn left and head to Main, turn left again and walk to Buchtel.

Once you check in your bag, head one block up Buchtel to High Street, turn right, and walk to Selle Street, where you will find your relay exchange zone. 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

1) From Opportunity Parking Deck, exit the deck on High Street and head north to your relay exchange zone at the intersection of High and Selle.

2) From the Children's Bowery deck, head south along Bowery to Exchange, turn left and follow Exchange to High, turn right and take High to Selle where you'll find your relay exchange zone at the corner of High and Selle.

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 3 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 4, you will see color-coded signs separating you from the 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, but speeds up to a pace of under a 15-minute mile after Mile 12. If you and your team have averaged a pace faster than a 15-minute mile, you probably won't even know it's there.

If the wagon passes you up, however, 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. 3 runs through downtown via High Street, turns onto West Market headed west, and weaves through Merriman toward Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens and on to Firestone High School, where it ends at Relay Exchange Zone 4.

This segment of the course is considered the most difficult, with a long incline along West Market and another hill on Merriman. Nearly 2 miles of this 5.3 mile leg is uphill.

Race Director Brian Polen talking about the Market/Merriman climb:



On West Market Street, you'll pass St. Vincent St. Mary High School where LeBron James played. On Merriman, you'll run through one of Akron's most upscale neighborhoods, tree-lined streets that were once home to rubber barons and industrialists. After passing historic Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (former estate of Goodyear co-founder F.A. Seiberling and site where Alcoholics Anonymous was founded) you'll descend a steep hill on Garman. Your route will end at Firestone High School, where Judith Resnick, an astronaut on the ill-fated Challenger space shuttle, graduated.

FULL MAP TO RELAY LEG 3

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.

Relay Leg 3 begins at Mile 12.

* You’ll find a medical aid station near miles 14 and 16.

* There are fluid stations and portable restrooms at miles 13, 15, 16 and 17.

* There is a gel station with Clif Shots at mile 16.

* 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 Elise Bonsky at mile 12.5, and Maddux Maple at mile 17.5. Give them a high five as you pass them!



COURSE ENTERTAINMENT

Watch for the following entertainment along the route:

* As you pass the Akron Art Museum, before the Y Bridge, you’ll find the reggae band Umojah Nation. (Think “imagination” when you say it.) https://umojahnation.com

* At the Federal Building at Main and Market, G Soundz will be playing.

* The St. Vincent St. Mary High School marching band will be performing along West Market Street.

* The Cover Band will be at Frank's Place at Market near Merriman.

* Students and staff from Akron Digital have registered as a “Block Party” on Merriman Road, so you will see spectators along Merriman with cowbells and other noisemakers.

* Garman Avenue residents have also registered as Block Party sites.

FINISHER FESTIVAL

When you finish your 5.3 mile leg at the corner of Fairfax and Rampart, you will find finisher's fluid in the parking lot at Firestone High School. Take a moment to hydrate.

Then find the shuttle buses on Rampart. These shuttles will be active from 8:30 to about 11:15 a.m. You are free to arrange your own transportation from Firestone High School to Canal Park and the Finisher Festival, but know that road closings may make navigating downtown at that late hour a challenge.

The shuttle will drop you off near the corner of Main and Exchange streets. From there, walk east to Main Street, turn left, and travel one block to the Diamond Boardwalk entrance of Canal Park. This is located 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, so wait for him/her to arrive!

Come back tomorrow for everything you could possibly want to know about Relay Leg 4.