This is the last 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 4.9 miles that make up Relay Leg No. 5.

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. 5:



RACE DAY PARKING DIRECTIONS

Your leg begins in West Akron at Hardesty Park, but ends in downtown Akron, so you'll want to park downtown and take the shuttle out to the start of your relay exchange zone.

Your recommended parking spot is at Akron Children's Hospital - the parking deck on Bowery, which is directly behind Canal Park. To get there, 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.

This area is away from the closed roads, so you'll be able to come in later than other relay legs, which is good since you could be starting hours after your first teammate crosses the starting line at 7 a.m. Just don't come too late! Remember to leave enough time for the shuttle to take you to Hardesty Park.

The shuttle buses are on Exchange near Main Street. When you leave the Bowery parking deck, turn left to Exchange, then turn left toward Main. The shuttles will be running from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

(If you don't mind a long day, feel free to come when the race starts. Many relay team members running the late legs enjoy being early spectators, catching the action as the runners pass through downtown three times before heading west.)



GEAR CHECK

Your gear bag (the clear plastic bag the Akron Marathon gave you during packet pickup Friday to hold unbreakable items you want available after your race) can be dropped off when you disembark your shuttle bus at Hardesty Park, on Alton Street right before the corrals.

There will be a FedEx truck waiting to transport the gear bags back downtown. A truck will leave Alton at 10:30 a.m. and 11:50 p.m., so if you are checking a bag, make sure you drop it off before one of these times.

To pick up your gear bag, after you finish your leg inside Canal Park, you'll need to leave the park and cross the street from the main entrance. There - at Main and Buchtel - you'll see the Gear Check flags to retrieve your bag.

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 5 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!

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. Leg 5 members are responsible for collecting the medals at the finish line for all five teammates. You can either return to Canal Park to collect and distribute the medals, or contact a member of your team to alert them that you can't return, in which case they will need to reach out to a race official to get the medals.

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. 5 starts at Hardesty Park, runs up Garman, down Portage Path, then back to downtown via West Market Street, finishing at Canal Park.

This segment features a short but very steep incline known as "Heart Rate Hill." There is also a hill on Portage Path. But overall, there is a lot of downhill on this 4.9-mile segment, including the long, steady dip along Market.

Race Director Brian Polen had some tips for runners tackling Heart Rate Hill and Portage Path:


FULL MAP TO RELAY LEG 5

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 5 begins at Mile 21.3.

* You’ll find a medical aid station near mile 22.6, 24.7 and inside Canal Park.

* There are fluid stations and portable restrooms at miles 22, 23.3, 24.1 and 25.2.

* You will see a gel station at Mile 23 with Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, pretzels and gel shots. These are for runners doing the full marathon to power them to the finish line.

* 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. 5, you’ll encounter sisters Bella and Sophia Bevilacqua. Exchange high fives with them as you pass by!



COURSE ENTERTAINMENT

Watch for the following entertainment along the route:

* Residents on Beauparc have registered as a “Block Party”, so you should see t-shirt-coordinated spectators shaking cowbells and cheering on runners.

* Garman is also famous for its block parties and resident participation.

* The band G Soundz will be near the Federal Building at the corner of Main and Market.

FINISHER FESTIVAL

You'll find finisher fluids right after you finish your leg inside the stadium, so take a moment to hydrate. Then proceed to pick up the five medals, which you will need to distribute to your team.

Make plans with your team now as to where to meet them after the race to give them their medals.

Meanwhile, your bib tickets will treat you to pizza, a snack bag and beverages.

Tomorrow, we'll tell you everything you need to know about this Friday's Expo and packet pickup day!

-- Paula