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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Fort4Fitness marathon winner Matthew Cosby crosses the finish line at Parkview Field with a time of 2:54:19 on Saturday.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Winner of the Fort4Fitness woman's 10K marathon Liesl Muehlhauser as she crosses the finish line at Parkview Field on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Runners take off from the starting line of the 11th annual Fort4Fitness 10K near Parkview Field on Saturday.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Winner of the Fort4Fitness men's 10K marathon Austin Davenport as he crosses the finish line at Parkview Field on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Start of the Fort4Fitness half marathon near Parkview Field on Saturday.  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Fort4Fitness female marathon winner Marissa Ward crosses the finish line at Parkview Field with a completion time of 2:59:11 on Saturday.

Sunday, September 30, 2018 1:00 am

Fort4fitness

City event welcomes record group

Marathon has its most entries ever

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Jonathan Miller was among a record number of runners who competed Saturday in the Fort4Fitness marathon.

Shirtless, sweating, sipping from a bottle of water and clearly tired after crossing the finish line of the 26.2-mile race at Parkview Field, the Tipton, Ohio, resident said he had run four marathons prior to entering the local competition. A friend of his got married Saturday evening, and Miller said he decided recently to run the marathon beforehand.

He said he'd need a nap before attending the nuptials. He also said he was impressed with the Fort Wayne event.

“It was a real welcoming atmosphere here today,” he said.

Fort4Fitness Executive Director Satin Lemon said as of Thursday, 220 people signed up for the marathon this year, the event's 11th. That's up 17 percent from last year.

More than 7,200 people took part in five other events including a half marathon and a 10K walk/run.

Participants came from 31 states, she said.

While it was Miller's first time, Lemon said the annual fall fitness event has cultivated loyal fans who have returned.

“We love that it's a tradition for people, and it's great to share that excitement and do something active,” she said in an email. “We have six different races to choose from in efforts to really reach out to every age and skill level.”

Josiah Downer, 28, ran the half marathon in just over an hour and 15 minutes. The Palmdale, California, resident used to live in Fort Wayne and decided to come back to visit friends and enjoy cooler temperatures than he's used to in Southern California.

Running has other benefits, he said.

“I love exploring, and running's a good way to see stuff,” Downer said.

Joe Cechvala of Fort Wayne is one who returned, competing Saturday in the 10K. He said he took up running as part of a fitness program at work and never stopped.

He said he's run at Fort4Fitness for six years.

“I like running,” he said. “It's a stupid addiction. I can't stop.”

Ashley Campbell ran the 10K for the first time and was inspired by her husband, Matt Campbell. She was on her way to cheer on Matt at Mile 16 of the marathon and said she couldn't just sit on the sidelines after her husband announced plans to compete.

“I had to do something,” Ashley said with a grin.

Wearing a Superman cape – this year's event was superhero-themed – Jennie Green also took on the 10K for the first time. She's run in other races but decided to try the Fort Wayne course.

She said she is glad she did. “It was a fun race,” Green said.

mleblanc@jg.net