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The Suburbanite
  • Jackson leaders say Canton Marathon caused problems

  • Half the 26.2-mile Canton Marathon trek wound along roads inside Jackson Township. The three trustees who operate the township — James Walters, John Pizzino and Todd Hawke — say they should have had an active role in planning the route. They had some beefs with the event and outlined them in a letter, sent last week to marathon organizers.

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  • Last month’s Canton Marathon has left government leaders here weary, frustrated, even bruised — and they didn’t even run.
    By most accounts, the inaugural marathon on June 17 was a success. More than 5,000 runners from 41 states and three countries descended upon Stark County. The economic impact on the area was likely in the neighborhood of $1 million, according to a study to be released soon by Walsh University. Then, there are the tangential effects of promoting health and fitness.
    “I’m glad it was all great from their perspective,” said Township Trustee James Walters. “And I think it’s cool that we’ve got a marathon ... we’re all for that. But it wasn’t all wine and roses.”
    Half the 26.2-mile trek wound along roads in the township, leading to the climax at Fawcett Stadium in Canton. The three trustees who operate the township — Walters, John Pizzino and Todd Hawke — have beefs with the event.
    They outlined them in a letter, sent last week to Marathon co-founders, President Julia Dick and Chief Executive Steve Mears:
    • The police department asked for 160 volunteers, but received 35, forcing them to recruit neighbors to man barricades at side roads.
    • An impatient motorist drove through a stop point, injuring officer Eric Martzolf in the process. Criminal charges may be pending, following an investigation by the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.
    • Buehler’s grocery store at Fulton Drive and Wales Avenue NW lost more than $10,000 in business when its entrances and exits were blocked. The closures held employees and shoppers captive.
    • Church of the Lakes and other congregations complained about the wisdom of holding the event on Father’s Day Sunday.
    In the letter, trustees said they must be actively involved in planning next year’s route or they will be unable to provide ample safety forces.
    “Communication was very poor,” Walters said.
    On Tuesday, Dick said she had read the letter. She didn’t dispute any assertions made by trustees, and accepted its contents as constructive criticism. She wants the race to get better every year.
    “We recognize an event of this magnitude ... can be disruptive,” she said.
    Dick said race officials worked behind the scenes for more than a year with officials from eight municipalities and entities — Jackson and Plain townships, Kent State University Stark campus, Ohio Highway Patrol, the cities of Canton and North Canton, the sheriff’s department and Ohio Department of Transportation.
    “It was a community and collaborative effort,” she said.
    Dick, still dissecting solicited reviews of this year’s race, said plans already are underway for 2013. She expects next year’s route and registration information to be released as early as September.
    Dick said it’s too soon to say if Jackson will be included.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’re going to try to expand our footprint,” she said, adding that 5K and 10K races also are being organized for later this fall. “But basically, we’re looking to showcase other Stark County communities, as well.”
    The only sure thing, Dick said, is the 2013 marathon will again culminate inside Fawcett Stadium.