So during my morning run yesterday, I tried to imagine doing my full 3 miles while juggling. Since I donít know how to juggle, I could only move my hands in a juggling pattern while looking skyward as if the balls were raining down on me. It was weird and uncomfortable, and I was glad the lady with the small Corgi rounded the corner, forcing me to abandon my silly antics.

But as soon as she was gone, I tried to imagine myself finishing my workout while jump roping. I rotated my arms and took a couple of awkward jump-rope steps midrun and almost fell on my face. I jump roped a lot in my youth - what self-respecting Baby Boomer girl didn't - but it was always stationary. Clearly, jump roping while moving forward takes this skill to a whole new level.

Then I tried to imagine what it would be like to run wearing a chefís hat and carrying a stockpot with a 5-pound weight inside. Would I hold it in front of me? Would I let it bang against my leg? Maybe rest it on a shoulder? I shook my head and gave thanks that I wasnít actually carrying a stockpot.

No, no, I havenít lost my mind. The thing is, I have met people doing all three of these things Ė and for 26.2 miles, no less. I canít imagine being so confident in my running abilities that I would willingly add some unrequired obstacle to an already insane marathon distance, but it seems almost every year there is an Akron Marathon runner intent on breaking some Guinness World Record.

And sometimes, they arenít after any record at all. I once met a runner who ran the whole course wearing a Tom Brady mask strapped to his face and juggling deflated footballs - just for the heck of it!

What I remember about all of them is they generated a lot of smiles, good-natured laughter and excited finger pointing.

I love the colorful atmosphere of the September marquee event and canít wait to be a part of it. Itís going to take a focused effort on my part to enjoy the scenery around me and not just stare at the asphalt in front of my feet, but - thanks to a juggler, a jump roper and a stockpot-toting chef - Iím determined to make the race more fun and less work!

- Paula

(Keep scrolling for photos.)



David Livingston, a computer programmer from Wooster, has raced in every Akron†Marathon†since it launched in 2003. In 2015, he did it with a jump rope.



Helen McWilliams of Cuyahoga Falls ran with a stockpot in 2016 to raise money for charity and win a spot in Guinness.



I snapped a photo of this guy wearing the Tom Brady mask and juggling deflated footballs, then later read a story about how he was doing this all over the country.