Saturday, November 18, 2017 Elyria 49°


Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon: Oberlin College grad Joanna Johnson takes third


CLEVELAND — With just a pair of marathons to her credit, Joanna Johnson is a novice compared to her top two rivals. She didn’t allow the inexperience or anything else to erode her confidence level Sunday at the 36th annual Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon.

The 2011 Oberlin College graduate took third place in a career-record two hours, 48 minutes and 43 seconds. She won $1,000.

“I was aiming for 2:50, so it went better than planned,” said Johnson, 24, a native of Chico, Calif. “That (the prize money) is definitely a perk. I’d run it anyway, but that always helps.”

Like last year, the heat became a major challenge. Overcast skies cleared starting at about 9:30 a.m. — 2½ hours into the marathon — with temperatures in the low 80s. Red-flag warnings were issued like last year.

“I run better in the heat. I come from Northern California. The snowy weather in Ohio is harder for me,” said Johnson, who was among the top 10 women at the 2012 Columbus Marathon in 2:50. “I was just very careful. I used every water station.”

She ran almost identical splits, 1:24:04 the first half and 1:24:39 the second.

Johnson’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials. To do that she must break the B standard of 2:43.

“I’m definitely aiming for an October marathon but I haven’t chosen one yet,” said Johnson, who earned Division III honors five times at Oberlin and will be a graduate student at SUNY-Albany in the fall. “I love distance running, but there’s really something about the marathoning and the whole experience. You put so much into the training and the race itself. It’s something very special.”

Avon’s John Kruszka, 33, and Brian Whittaker, 36, of Sheffield Village were the top two Lorain County runners in the men’s division. Kruszka was 19th in 2:56:12. Whittaker was 30th in 2:59:05.

“It was tough,” said Kruszka. “It seemed like the wind was spinning the whole time. Every time you hit a turn, if you weren’t tucked behind somebody it was straight-on headwind. I was 1:24 for the half, which was mediocre. I knew right away from the split I was hurting. I got some motivation back after getting on Martin Luther King Drive. I managed to pass about 15 people in the last four or five miles.”

Kruszka missed last year’s event but was Lorain County’s top finisher in 2011 at 2:44:44 (16th place). Whittaker was the top local runner last year in 2:55:16, and No. 2 in 2011 behind Kruszka in a personal-record 2:54:42.

“The crowd support helped,” Whittaker said. “It was a nice day for spectators. The crowds out in force helped battle the heat. You really noticed the heat at the halfway point. Overall, a solid race. I’m happy.”

Elyria’s Jim Mackert, 76, kept his streak alive at 36.

He is one of only two runners to compete in all the Cleveland Marathons since Revco was the first title sponsor in 1978. Mackert finished seventh in the 70-and-older category in 6:05:49, almost 30 minutes better than last year. The other runner to do all 36 is Chagrin Falls’ Bud McNellie, 73, who clocked 4:45:21 and was second for the 70-and-older group, 54 minutes better than last year.

“Aside from a small blister on the ball of my right foot I feel great,” Mackert said. “I started noticing it at about 14 miles. I just tried to focus on keeping a rhythm the rest of the way in. I’m very, very happy. My goal was six hours. It got warmer than they predicted, so I’m very, very pleased with what I ran. I feel great except for my foot.”

Heat blindsided first-time marathoner Tyler Kvach, 20, of Avon. The LCCC cross country runner was on a sub-three-hour pace but struggled in the second half and finished 210th in 3:33:09.

“I felt very good through 16 miles,” said Kvach, a former All-Ohio cross country runner. “Over by MLK Drive (21-mile mark) my legs started buckling. At times it literally felt like I was walking.”

Elyria’s Marty Coolidge tested the Rite Aid 10K for the first time. The 21-year-old finished ninth in 31:07. He averaged a 5:00.60 mile pace as he beat two seeded Kenyans — Emmanuel Bor (31:26) and Pius Muli (31:48).

“I redshirted this year for Iowa State,” Coolidge said. “I developed a staph infection earlier last summer and was in the hospital for nine days. I haven’t done much racing this year, so I wanted to get in a competition while I was home. I’m feeling good, so I registered last Saturday. My goal was to get under 31 flat and I was right there. It was a good race with some good competition.”

A record 20,134 runners competed in the event, which included Saturday’s 5K race and some children’s races. It’s an increase from 2012 (20,000), and the race has grown more than 300 percent since Rite Aid became the title sponsor in 2003.



1. Philemon Terer, Kenya, 02:17:37; 2. Tesfaye Dube, Ethiopia, 02:18:10; 3. Geofrey Kiprotich, Kenya ,02:19:41; 4. Brandon Bauer, New Albany OH, 02:28:45; 5. Paul Odipo, Cincinnati, 02:41:03; 19. John Kruszka, Avon, 02:56:12; 30. Brian Whittaker, Sheffield Village, 02:59:05.

Local age group results

15-19: 10. Domenic Acciarri, Avon Lake, 03:56:29. 30-34: 5. John Kruszka, Avon, 02:56:12. 35-39: 3. Brian Whittaker, Sheffield Village, 02:59:05; 8. Eric Lammers, Elyria, 03:05:15. 55-59: 4. Bruce Schmidt, North Ridgeville, 03:28:40. 60-64: 2. Thomas Kilcourse, Avon Lake, 03:37:24. 70-98: 1. Rodney Blankenship, Lorain, 04:40:29; 7. Jim Mackert, Elyria, 06:05:49


1. Sarah Kiptoo, Kenya ,02:33:42; 2. Mary Akor, USA ,02:36:03; 3. Joanna Johnson, Oberlin, 02:48:43; 4. Trisha Drobeck, Missoula MT, 02:51:12; 5. Cortney Staruch, Hinckley, 02:57:45.

Local age group results

15-19: 4. Danielle Liszka, Avon Lake, 03:50:46. 20-24: 2. Joanna Johnson, Oberlin, 02:48:43. 55-59: 2. Deb Wailes, Lorain, 03:54:06.

Half marathon


1. Leo Kormanik II, Lodi, 01:10:06; 2. Justin Baum, Magnolia OH, 01:13:47; 3. Eric Martin, Parkersburg WV, 01:15:51; 4. Matthew Dietrich, Broadview Heights, 01:16:25; 5. Jeff Schuler, Cleveland, 01:16:54.

Local age group results

20-24: 6. James Adams, Avon Lake, 01:25:42. 25-29: 10. Kirk Shellhouse, Wellington, 01:25:21. 30-34: 10. Brian Kleinhenz, Amherst, 01:26:04. 45-49: 4. Shane Yates, Avon, 01:34:01. 60-64: 4. Randy Barkacs, Elyria, 01:40:22.


1. Tamara Marquardt, Shaker Heights, 01:22:54; 2. Katy Reynolds, Apple Creek OH, 01:23:45; 3. Ro Morgan, Peninsula, 01:25:48; 4. Hannah Hartzler, Marshallville OH, 01:26:54; 5. Jessica Daughters, Madison OH, 01:27:44; 6. Kelly Staruch, Lorain, 01:28:07; 18. Miko Grendow, Avon Lake, 01:33:16.

Local age group results

20-24: 4. Danielle Hunt, Oberlin, 01:30:24. 25-29: 2. Kelly Staruch, Lorain, 01:28:07. 35-39: 4. Miko Grendow, Avon Lake, 01:33:16. 50-54: 2. Joanne Collins, Avon, 01:44:15. 55-59: 2. Michele DeWitt, Avon, 01:47:33; 7. Mary Sertich, Avon Lake, 02:00:11. 60-64: 2. Cassandra McGuire, Avon, 02:00:10.



1. Najim El-Qady, Morocco, 00:28:46; 2. Shadrack Kiyai, Kenya, 00:29:31; 3. Cole Atkins, Brown Mountain Beach NC, 00:29:53; 4. Aiman Sullivan, Kent OH, 00:30:11; 5. Craig Leon, Eugene OR, 00:30:27; 6. Makorobono Salukombo, Cleveland, 00:30:33; 7. Jason Ordway, Dayton, 00:30:42; 8. Dustin Hall, Wheeling WV, 00:31:06; 9. Marty Coolidge, Elyria, 00:31:07; 10. Emmanuel Bor, Kenya, 00:31:26.

Local age group results

20-24: 3. Marty Coolidge, Elyria, 00:31:07. 30-34: 8. Mario Fernandez, Avon, 00:46:24. 40-44: 6. Michael Schaefer, Grafton, 00:43:39. 45-49: 2. Thomas Fries, Elyria, 00:41:31; 8. Roberto Condeno, Lorain, 00:49:17. 55-59: 8. Dale Wolfe, Grafton, 00:50:10.


1. Risper Gesabwa, Kenya ,00:33:22; 2. Everlyne Lagat, Kenya ,00:33:42; 3. Millicent Kuria, Kenya ,00:33:48; 4. Alice Kimutai, Kenya ,00:34:01; 5. Jessica Odorcic, Madison OH, 00:34:18.

Local age groups

14 and younger: 3. Emily Watters, Wellington, 00:54:53. 15-19: 10. Kimberly Sumislawski, Avon, 00:56:57. 30-34: 5. Molly Stout (formerly of Avon Lake), 00:42:35; 10. Leslie Johnston, North Ridgeville, 00:47:19. 40-44: 8. Liz Kent, Avon Lake, 00:52:05. 55-59: 3. Karen Divis, Avon, 00:56:35. 65-69: 1. Pati Habenicht, North Ridgeville, 00:55:22; 2. Jeanne Sikorski, North Ridgeville, 01:02:20.

Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or

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