Celebrations and an afternoon of physical recovery are underway with another running of the Akron Marathon in the books. Nearly 9,000 runners followed the Blue Line through the city for the Akron Marathon, which stepped off at 7 a.m. in downtown.

Celebrations and an afternoon of physical recovery are underway with another running of the Akron Marathon in the books.

Nearly 9,000 runners followed the Blue Line through the city for the Akron Marathon, which stepped off at 7 a.m. in downtown.


The Akron Marathon is underway! @ohiodotcom pic.twitter.com/Wq6NmgewUH


— Karen SchielyABJ (@karen_schiely) September 29, 2018

Here's a look back at early moments from the day. Check back with Ohio.com and in Sunday's Beacon Jounral for more stories, photos and videos.

 

9:55 a.m.:

Grace McCarron of Mansfield was the women's winner with a time of two hours, 51 minutes and 11 seconds. She finished third last year.


pic.twitter.com/T4zk701FsF


— DougLivingstonABJ (@ABJDoug) September 29, 2018//
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Her sister, Emma McCarron, won last year's Akron Marathon and finished fourth this year in the half marathon.

9:30 a.m.:


Apparently marathon runners like to celebrate victory by eating bananas, drinking Michelob Ultra and listening to punk music while wearing tin foil capes. Who would have thought? #RunAkron pic.twitter.com/SaJNCARNvO


— DougLivingstonABJ (@ABJDoug) September 29, 2018//
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Israel Merkle of Akron finished first in the full marathon at about 9:30 a.m. He ran the entire marathon in two hours, 26 minutes and 25 seconds.

Merkle finished second in the Goodyear Half Marathon and 10k in August. Last year he finished the Akron Marathon in fifth place.

Dylan Garritano lives near Merkle in Merriman Valley and finished second.

9 a.m.:

Mick Iacofano of Medina finished first in the half marathon shortly after 8 a.m.. Becky Spellman of Galloway (near Columbus) led female racers in the 13.1 kilometer race.

Each cross the finish line 3 seconds behind the course records for the men’s and women’s divisions.

Iacofano, a 2013 graduate of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, lives in Boulder, Co., where he works in a brewery and is training for the California International Marathon, a U.S. championship event. Iacofano finished second in Akron’s half marathon last year, the first year he ran the race.

Spellman is no stranger to victory in Akron. She took first among women in the Rubber City’s full marathon in 2016.

 

8:05 a.m.: At the 32-minute mark, the lead runner rounded the corner at S. Broadway Street turning east toward E.J. Thomas Hall on the marathon’s tour of the University of Akron.


At the 32” mark, Layla Popik of Seven Hill (a hero in the #RunAkron Marathon) cheers on the first place runner. “RUN, RUN, Ra Ra, RUN!” pic.twitter.com/SJlYUm3dzS


— DougLivingstonABJ (@ABJDoug) September 29, 2018

Layla Popik, 10, held a foam circle over the blue line. It read, “Press for Power.”

Layla is one of 16 Akron Children’s “Heroes” offering inspiration along the race course. Her stop included music, food and the gold and blue of its sponsor, Kent State.

Layla, who has dwarfism, was abandoned to the streets of China at age 2. Her parents, who also have dwarfism, found Layla in an orphanage with help from their membership in the Little People of America organization.

The Popiks couldn’t have biological kids, so they adopted Layla, said her father, Joe Popik, an engineer at General Electric who lives in Seven Hills.

“I think we should give someone a chance who really needs it,” Joe recalls telling his wife, Lisa.

November is Layla’s two-year anniversary in America. She’s learning English quickly and makes routine trips to Akron Children’s Hospital. Standing behind her family on race day, Layla’s doctor looked as inspired as the runners who tapped her blue button.

“She’s just such a smart ball of energy,” Dr. Frank Artinian said.

“She has such an infectious smile. Look at her,” he said as Layla let out a “run, run, ra ra, run!” cheer for the racers.

Bill Considine took notice. On a Cleveland television news show that aired Tuesday morning, the CEO of Children’s gladly sat by as the camera focused on Layla. “They pushed me off the couch,” Considine joked with a smile almost as big as Layla’s.

7:45 a.m. Nearly 9,000 runners of the city’s marquee relay, half and full marathon packed South High Street Saturday morning before the sun came up.


Participants grab Gatorade and water at the 2 mile marker of the marathon. @ohiodotcom pic.twitter.com/CeqyNXBGeM


— Jeff Lange (@JeffJefflange) September 29, 2018


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Throughout the city, volunteers poured water over castles of white paper cups stacked on foldout tables as friends and family — and the runners they’d come to watch — crowded the starting line in downtown Akron.

Five minutes before the first wave of runners took off at 7 a.m., the heart of the city quieted to observe the National Anthem. Cheers followed. Then “Going the Distance” by Cake smashed the silence as runners bubbled with anticipation, creeping closer to the starting line.

Four waves, each packed with hundreds of racers grouped by speed, set out in time and without a hitch. Leading the pack was a group pushing a patient with ALS from Wadsworth, one of the countless causes fueling runners.

The racers headed up South High Street into the first of three legs of the Akron Marathon, through North Hill. Fans, friends and family walked toward shuttles at Main and Exchange, to be carted off to their relay positions, or up a hill to the east to watch the racers come flooding back downtown along Broadway in the next half hour.

6:54 a.m. It was a brisk 56 degrees as runners quieted for the National Anthem just before the start of the Akron Marathon.