Mud Hens vs Marathon

I had the pleasure of volunteering last Saturday night for one of the most unique running challenges I think I’ve ever seen.

The Challenge

“Can a group of local runners run a 26.2 mile Marathon in the length of time it takes the local AAA baseball team to play a game in regulation innings” …seems simple enough, right? Wrong!

The Players

In one corner you have the Toledo Mud Hens.  The Toledo Mud Hens are a Minor League Baseball team located in Toledo, Ohio. The Mud Hens play in the International League and are affiliated with the Detroit Tigers franchise of Major League Baseball.  They play their home games at Fifth Third Field.

In the other corner you have Dave’s Running Company. Dave’s Running Company consists of three branches.  One being the Retail Stores, the Second being the Event Promotions group (Run Toledo) and the Third being the Training / Wellness division.

The Event

Throughout the season, the Mud Hens hold a number of different promotional events.  A few weeks ago they had a Star Wars night, then a week or so ago, they had a Harry Potter night.  On last Saturday night, they held the Ultimate Challenge night, where they had planned a number of challenges throughout the game for the fans to participate in, but they wanted something big to top it off, so they contacted the folks at Dave’s and the idea to run a Marathon was hatched.

The Details

Like they say, “The Devil is in the Details” and it couldn’t be truer in this case.  Once the “challenge” was thrown down, it was game on.  Jim Pool, the Wellness Director for Dave’s would lead the campaign.  The plan was pretty easy, just follow a normal 5-person Marathon Relay format, where each runner runs about 5 1/2 miles.  But where would they run?  The Mud Hens Stadium is right in downtown Toledo.  “Well, it’s about .43 miles if you run all the way around the Stadium on the city streets”,  Eric Kramer, Dave’s Lead Timer said.  Ok, that will work! So….how many laps around the stadium is that?  Sixty One!  Sixty One, are you F$%^&# Crazy, I think I heard! Yep, 61 laps.  Ok, thats not that bad, it’s only 12 laps per person, and oh yea, the last person needs to do 13 laps, Eric added.

Ok, how much time do me have? Not sure, how long is a ball game?  “Crickets”.  Ok, so they scouted a few games and it was determined that and average game was about 3 hours long, so they would most likely need to run a sub-3 hour Marathon, on city streets, making all left turns. Again, I think I heard “are you F%$#&* crazy”.

Now that the challenge had been thrown down, there was no backing out now.  Ok, what’s next. Since Jim had planned to run a leg himself, he needed find four more runners that wanted to run part of a Marathon, at 7:00 pm on a Saturday night, in July, on downtown city streets, running around the block 12 times and oh yea, they needed to average a 6:40 minute pace per mile!  Is that all, I though I heard Jim say.

(photo credit Larry N. Marsh Photography)

Sebastian Rue (above), a seasoned runner and Varsity Cross Country Coach was tagged to run the first leg.

(photo credit Larry N. Marsh Photography)

Jim Pool, the Wellness Director for Dave’s Running, a multi time IRONMAN and running coach, would run leg #2.

(photo credit Larry N. Marsh Photography)

Kellie Modlinski, (above) a Boston Finisher, and longtime Marathon Coach would take on leg #3.

(photo credit Larry N. Marsh Photography)

Nick Kubiak (above) another long time runner and Marathon Coach for Dave’s Running, would run the 4th leg.

(photo credit Larry N. Marsh Photography)

Taking on the anchor leg, would be Evan Gaynor, (above) an Olympic Marathon Trails Qualifier and Two Time  Glass City Marathon Winner (2013 & 2017).

(Photo credit Shawn Michael Wingate Photography.)

Bob Masters, a season runner and also an Olympic Marathon Trails Qualifier would pace the runners on his bike.

The Race

At exactly 7:05 PM, on the first pitch inside the Stadium, the first runner crossed the start line. Sebastian did an amazing job of setting a strong opening pace.  Next up was Jim, he transitioned well and was off.  At about the 9 mile point, with 49:35 minutes into he race, the Game was in top of the 3rd inning,  Jim handed off to Kelly and at about the 10.8 mile point, with 1:15:31 on the clock, the Game was in the middle of the 4th inning.

Kelly hit the mid point of the race (13.1 miles) at a time of 1:34:01 and the Game was in the bottom of the 5th inning.   Kelly handed off to Nick.  Nick ran his 12 laps and passed the button to Evan at 2:30:12 and the Game was in the bottom of the 8th.

At this point, Even had about 6 miles to run and only 30 minutes to go it if they were going to beat 3 hours.  You can do the math, but that’s a 5:00 minute mile.  As the laps wound down, remember, Evan needs to run 13 laps to hit the 26.2 miles.  The Game was Tied, 4-4 and it was the bottom of the 9th, if the Mud Hens scored before Evan finished his last few laps the Marathoner’s would loose.  Well, Loosing wasen’t  an option.  You couldn’t have scripted it any better.   Evan dug down deep and as he rounded the last corner, there were 2 outs and the count was full, as Evan crossed the finish line.  The MARATHONERS Won in a time of 2:55:30.

By the way, the game went into extra innings and the Mud Hens Won! So it was a Win – Win for both!

(L-R) Bob, Jim, Myself and Eric (Photo credit Shawn Michael Wingate Photography.)

Some of the Crew Above

Post Race on the field. Being introduced as the Victors to the sell out crowd.(Photo credit Shawn Michael Wingate Photography.)

What a fun and entertaining evening.  I hear that this might become an annual event?

Until next time …. Happy Running!


Did you attend this event?  If so, I’d love to here from you!

Would you like to see this become and annual event?

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