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The Suburbanite
  • Founders of Canton Marathon battling in court

  • Ready, set, go: The Canton Marathon will not be run this year, but plans remain in the works for a Canton marathon.

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  • Ready, set, go: The Canton Marathon will not be run this year, but plans remain in the works for a Canton marathon.
    “It’s our goal to save this event in 2013 and make it a premier athletic property for years to come, generating millions of dollars in economic impact and generating funds for worthy causes,” Stephen Mears, race organizer, said in a prepared statement. “The communities need it and the runners want it.”
    Mears said nearly 500 people have registered to date for his newly created Hall of Fame City Challenge marathon, slated for June 15. The event also will include team relays, a half-marathon and a 10K run.
    The tentative marathon course begins in downtown Canton and ends at Fawcett Stadium. The route includes the Ridgewood and Market Heights neighborhoods, Avondale, North Canton and Meyers Lake.
    The trek is preliminary because Mears has not yet secured approval he’ll need from government leaders to temporarily close roads. Getting blessings from the involved communities may be more difficult than last year.
    Although trumpeted as a success by many of its 5,500 runners, the 2012 Canton Marathon turned into a behind the scenes mess. Co-founders Mears and Julia Dick parted ways. He said she was blocking the path to this year’s race; she blamed him for running up a race debt of more than $100,000 owed to vendors and cities.
    That battle is now in Stark County Common Pleas Court.
    In January, Mears filed a lawsuit, asking to dissolve his Canton Marathon partnership with Dick and to provide a detailed accounting of its books. Last week, Dick filed a counterclaim with a charge that Mears misappropriated $150,000 and is misusing Canton Marathon assets and trade secrets for his Hall of Fame Challenge.
    “Julia is very sad and disappointed in these actions,” said her attorney Allen Schulman, who along with James T. Robertson, prepared the complaint.
    Schulman said Dick wanted to pay last year’s race debt before accepting registration money from runners for this year. She has turned her attention to bringing a marathon to the area for 2014, he said.
    “It was an ethical thing to her,” Schulman said.
    Included in her legal complaint is a copy of a two-page promissory note that Mears signed in September, agreeing to pay Canton Marathon $150,000 in monthly installments. Mears has contended that he signed under duress, and that it was the only way to get this year’s event off the ground.
    Mears’ private business, StrategyONE, did provide paid services to the Canton Marathon, said Mears’ attorney, Douglas Gotshall. However, he said that Dick was well aware of the charges in the months leading up to last year’s race. It was only afterward, when they came up short on cash to pay bills, that she made an issue of it, he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Gotshall said Mears has since paid $55,000 out of pocket to pay vendors and cities. North Canton recently received $8,000. Gotshall said the Canton Marathon’s tab has been reduced to about $51,000.
    He said Mears is focused on making this new race a hit.
    “We’ll take care of the legal end ... this race will go on,” Gotshall said.
    A pre-trial court hearing is to be held on April 16.
    Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 or tim.botos@cantonrep.com.
    On Twitter: @tbotosREP
    About the event
    Stephen Mears, race organizer, said nearly 500 people have registered to date for his newly created Hall of Fame City Challenge marathon.
    WHEN  June 15
    WHAT  Team relays, a half-marathon and a 10K run
    WHERE  The tentative marathon course begins in downtown Canton and ends at Fawcett Stadium. The route includes the Ridgewood and Market Heights neighborhoods, Avondale, North Canton and Meyers Lake.
    NOTE  The trek is preliminary because Mears has not yet secured approval he’ll need from government leaders to temporarily close roads.
    About the fight
    • 2012 Canton Marathon co-founders Mears and Julia Dick parted ways. He said she was blocking the path to this year’s race; she blamed him for running up a race debt of more than $100,000 owed to vendors and cities. That battle now is in Stark County Common Pleas Court.
    • In January, Mears filed a lawsuit, asking to dissolve his Canton Marathon partnership with Dick and to provide a detailed accounting of its books.
    • Last week, Dick filed a counterclaim, charging that Mears misappropriated $150,000 and is misusing Canton Marathon assets and trade secrets for his event.