(Posted April 19, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
In his first marathon, Joseph Montoya not only completed the race, he finished No. 1. Best of all, he did it on his home turf.
The West Jefferson resident and London High School track and cross country coach was the first of 81 runners to finish the marathon portion of the London Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K held April 15 at Merri Mac Park. He crossed the finish line at 2:45.34, nine minutes ahead of second-place finisher John Martino of Dallas, Pa.
In the process, Montoya, 29, met two personal goals: to complete a marathon before he turned 30 and to finish in under 2:50.
“It’s definitely a different animal,” he said of the marathon distance (26.2 miles).
Montoya ran cross country and track at Otterbein University and has since completed a couple of half-marathon races. He trained for marathons in recent years, but the pandemic and injuries kept him from getting to the starting line. He was happy to finally make it happen.
“The marathon is a different form of being uncomfortable,” he said. “I started out well, but Mile 21 is when the bear jumped on my back. If I do it again, I will work on my fueling so I can feel better and stronger at the end. Overall, it was a fun experience.”
The race course takes place almost entirely on the Ohio To Erie Trail. Montoya lives less than two miles from the trail and used it for training. The familiarity with the course and the fact that he got to race in front of a bunch of family, friends, and student-athletes was “almost like home court advantage,” he said.
“We had 30 of our high school track and cross country kids out volunteering and cheering people on,” he said. “It was incredible. Getting to see the kids every couple of miles early on in the race and again toward the end… it was another motivational tool.”
Montoya said the student-athletes pushed him along, especially when he was hurting the last several miles. The role reversal was something special to experience, he said.
“They were telling me the types of things I tell them before, during, and after races. It was incredibly encouraging,” Montoya said. “Having them all lined up along the finish was a special moment–definitely a moment I won’t forget.”
Many of the other 300-plus runners who turned out to run 26.2 miles, 13.1 miles, or 3.1 miles that day likely have inspirational stories of their own. London resident and race director David Mars and his crew are happy to provide the opportunity for people to test their abilities and make memories.
This marks the third year for the race. In addition to the 81 marathon finishers, there were 155 half-marathon finishers, 85 5K finishers, and the race’s first marathon hand-cycle finisher.
“It was great to have that many come out, especially when we’ve been at about 200 people the other years,” Mars said. “People are getting used to it and excited about it.”
The event serves as a fundraiser for Merri Mac Park Miracle, a non-profit organization working to bring improvements to the park. This year, net proceeds totalled approximately $15,000.
“We’re happy with that,” Mars said. “The goal is always to raise as much as we can and put on the best event that we can. It’s a balancing act. Every year, we get a little bit better at what we do.”
Next year’s race day will take place at approximately the same time in April.
MARATHON – Men
First: Joseph Montoya, 29, of West Jefferson – 2:45.34
Second: John Martino, 38, of Dallas, Pa. – 2:54.37
Third: Brian Monsen, 38, of Dublin, Ohio – 3:00.57
MARATHON – Women
First: Amy Parker, 38, of Gahanna, Ohio – 3:09.04 (5th overall)
Second: Stacey Crosby, 40, of Westerville, Ohio – 3:15.28 (6th overall)
Third: Emily Raymond, 41, of Hinesburg, Vermont – 3:34.02 (18th overall)
MARATHON HAND CYCLE
First: Greg McCrabb, 52, of Dublin, Ohio – 2:36.54
HALF MARATHON – Men
First: James Zeuch, 34, of Hilliard, Ohio – 1:12.08
Second: Spencer Mahon, 26, of Lexington, Ky. – 1:14.43
Third: Ansel Nalin, 31, of Columbus, Ohio – 1:18.06
HALF MARATHON – Women
First: Christi-Anne Beatty, 23, of Cincinnati, Ohio – 1:30.31 (14th overall)
Second: Caroline Zaffino, 26, of Hilliard, Ohio – 1:38.52 (23rd overall)
Third: Elly Watkins, 23, of Cedarville, Ohio – 1:40.03 (25th overall)
5K – Men
First: Thomas McNamara, 26, of Tiffin, Ohio – 17:07
Second: Matthew Dwyer, 15, of London, Ohio – 20:39 (4th overall)
Third: Chris Blesch, 65, of Rochester Hills, Mich. – 21:21 (5th overall)
5K – Women
First: Kaela Kunesh, 25, of Powell, Ohio – 20:24 (2nd overall)
Second: Sarah Blesch, 29, of Rochester Hills, Mich. – 20:35
Third: Lily Patterson, 16, of London, Ohio – 21:54 (6th overall)
Madison County Finishers
Joseph Montoya, West Jefferson (2:45.34)
Matthew Sanders, London (5:06.31)
Zachary Johnson, London (5:32.49)
David Hirshberg, Plain City (1:51.24)
Kathy Demers, Plain City (1:52.19)
Sara Robinson, London (1:58.57)
Valerie LeMaster, London (2:03.10)
Marvin Beachy, London (2:04.40)
Kate Wilke, Plain City (2:16.06)
Patti Sidner, West Jefferson (2:22.20)
James Aaron Tecumseh Sinclair, London (2:23.57)
Anna Sexton, London (2:24.50)
Beth Hishberg, Plain City (2:30.14)
Bill Knox, West Jefferson (2:31.06)
Caelan Mars, London (2:34.24)
Parker Rembis, London (2:35.54)
Stephanie Wenning, London (2:38.42)
Shelby Woolum, London (2:47.05)
Matthew Dwyer, London (20:39)
Lily Patterson, London (21:54)
Ashley Nolan, London (22:42)
Wyatt Adams-Jette, London (23:05)
Michael Mullins, London (25:12)
Eric Noble, London (25:34)
Matt Nolan, London (26:10)
Bridgett Shoemaker, London (30:44)
Jesse Hicks, London (31:16)
Jimi Jette, London (31:18)
Sheri Silvers, London (33:11)
Agori Rossiou, London (34:06)
Joe Hicks, London (34:23)
A Ross, London (39:51)
Timothy Ross, London (39:51)
Leslie McMurray, Mount Sterling (44:01)
Douglas Runyon, West Jefferson (45:39)
James Carlson, Plain City (46:43)
Tamaria Carlson, Plain City (46:43)
Chris Alexander, London (48:09)
G. Alexander, London (49:33)
Emily Alexander, London (49:33)
Amanda Worrix, London (49:35)
E. Alexander, London (50:14)
Jessica Friesland, London (50:14)
Caleb Burton, London (50:30)
Taylor Burton, London (50:30)
Jody Davis, London (50:32)
Michelle Anderson, London (50:41)
James Wiseman, London (50:41)
Laura Jones, London (52:05)
Pauline Wheatley, London (52:09)
Annie Hicks, London (52:16)
Cassie Appleyard, London (53:00)
Ada Gibson, West Jefferson (57:47)
Robert Gibson, West Jefferson (57:49)
Runners came from 14 different states: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont.
Marathon – W. Keyes, 12, of Columbus was the youngest finisher, placing 44th overall with a time of 4:23:54.44. Mary Jablonski, 69, of Columbus was the oldest finisher, placing 36th overall with a time of 4:10:28.55.
Half marathon – Caelan Mars, 14, of London was the youngest finisher, placing 130th overall with a time of 2:34:24.95. Ray McMahon, 75, of Columbus was the oldest finisher, placing 152nd overall with a time of 3:52:20.36.
5K – A. Ross, 10, of London was the youngest finisher, placing 45th overall with a time of 39:51.11. Alan Hendry, 71, was the oldest finisher, placing 43rd overall with a time of 37:28.89.