Fox Cities Marathon attracts first-timers, seasoned veterans

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MENASHA, Wis. (WBAY) – About 4,000 runners participated in the Fox Cities Marathon this year.

The 26.2-mile course started at UW-Fox Valley in Menasha and ended at Riverside Park in Neenah. It was the second year in a row that runners ran that particular course, which was introduced last year for the race’s 25th anniversary. Participants ran through seven miles of paved trails, passing by riverfronts and parks.

The race attracted both first-timers and also some who have run in all 26 Fox Cities Marathon races.

Amber Buss was one of those first-time marathon runners. She said she lost 90 pounds and wanted to do something more challenging. Running a marathon has been on her bucket list since she was in high school. She wanted to run the race for her two children.

“They are definitely my why and the reason why I am striving to be a healthy person and to show them that it is awesome to be healthy and active,” Buss said. “I’ve basically been training all year because I started training for the half-marathon first and then just kind of went from there.”

Mike Altobelli also ran his first marathon for his family.

“My mom, it’s her first one, my uncle he is a big runner, so he got me motivated, so it’s going to be fun,” he said.

Ned Hughes said he is part of a group of 18 runners who have been running the Fox Cities Marathon every year since it started in 1990. Hughes also runs in other marathon races. He said Sunday’s race was his 100th marathon.

“The energy you get from the spectators throughout the Fox Cities and so forth, the connection that you make, it’s something that’s very hard to explain, except there is a bond that goes on,” Hughes said. “In terms of bringing us all together and that connectiveness as human beings, yeah, it’s a great feeling.”

Runners said the weather was perfect. It was around 55 degrees at the start of the race.

The half-marathon was also held on Sunday. John Dewitt won the race, finishing with a time of one hour, five minutes and 54 seconds. Laura Schmitz was the first woman to cross the half-marathon finish line with a time of one hour, 26 minutes and 46 seconds. Both runners were pleased with how they did.

“This is a building block for me,” Dewitt said. “I’m going to be running New York this fall. I’m really excited to be a part of that to go out and race for the Wisconsin Runner Racing Team. Hoping to run something fast there and hopefully bring out a really good performance, so this is a building block heading into that.

“This past winter, I ran at the Olympic trials in the marathon and pursing that dream and hoping to continue that.”

Schmitz said she is planning on running a marathon or two next year.

Sonny Molina actually broke a world record by running barefoot.

“Today, the most bare foot half marathons in consecutive day, so every day, I did 10 yesterday, and did the 11th one today,” Molina said.

Volunteers set up tents, first-aid stations and water stations for runners. Marathon organizer Amanda Decor said they have been working all year long to make sure every runner has a fantastic journey from start to finish.

“I am always inspired by the stories that we hear about why people came to the start line,” Decor said. “We have all ages, all abilities, shapes, sizes, men, women, and they’ve got different stories that brought them to the start line. It might be overcoming something. They might be in honor of somebody. They might be doing it as a social thing, or they may just be someone who loves to run and walk.”

The marathon helps raise money for a number of nonprofit organizations.

CLICK HERE for more on the Fox Cities Marathon.

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