40th anniversary - 40 faces of the cleveland marathon

40 faces of the race

The 2017 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is the 40th Anniversary of the race which began in Cleveland in 1978. To celebrate 40 years, we've chosen 40 individuals who have been part of the race as a participant, sponsor, volunteer or event manager for at least one year. Each individual represents so many other participants that continue to challenge themselves and support the race. Beginning the week of August 8, 2016 and counting down for 40 weeks until race week 2017, we will feature one of the "40 Faces" per week through our social media channels and highlight 4 profiles per month through email. Please keep in mind, it is difficult to choose only 40 total, there are hundreds if not thousands more we would love to feature but wanted to show our diversity through the following individuals. We hope you enjoy their stories!

Each individual answered the questions, "Why do you love the Cleveland Marathon and what is your favorite Cleveland Experience"?

August 2016

Pablo Vigil

"I won this event in '80,'81 and '88.....But, I can honestly say that the best victories were the great people that I met as a result of my participation, Jack/Bernie Staph and family, John Tope, Michael Jordan, Mayor George Voinovih, whom presented me with the key to the city after my 2nd victory.......and not to mention the ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME LATER ON.

It was also great seeing all the positive changes of Cleveland Marathon, along with the City of Cleveland.To have been a tiny participant in this historical metamorphosis was a real honor."


Pablo Vigil


rachel hoffman - runner

Rachel Hoffman is a runner from Beverly Hills, MI- living in Kalamazoo, MI.

"I have run 6 full marathons and 10 half marathons. I ran my first half marathon in May 2012- later that same day, my dad (my number one fan) died very suddenly of a pulmonary embolism. Heartbroken, I turned to running as a means of therapy and made it my goal to run a full marathon that fall in Detroit. Running teaches me how important it is to keep going, no matter what. It has taught me that I am braver and stronger than I ever thought I was. I currently lead summer and winter marathon training teams here in Kalamazoo and I love to have FUN!!! I spread positivity and happiness.

Why do I love the Cleveland Marathon and what is my favorite experience?

I did the Cleveland Marathon this year for the first time and ran the full 26.2. I learned so much about myself and about the kindness of others during this experience that there wasn't even a doubt in my mind when signup opened for 2017.

My late father was from Cleveland and is buried there. This year marked my first trip back since his 2012 funeral. I was so thrilled to run past the stadiums of his favorite teams and imagine his smile at my enjoyment. The weather presented me with many challenges, but I learned that I am TOUGH, I am STRONG, I am more than hail and wind and snow and I will never quit. It was the first race ever that I have seriously considered a DNF. By mile 12, I was chilled to the bone, my hands were white, and the pacer I wanted to stay with was far ahead. I was crying. It was very hard to stay positive, and I am a veteran marathon runner. On the lakeshore, a wonderful woman who was there watching her sister actually took the Nike gloves off of her hands and have them to me, as I was in obvious distress. That gesture- that singular act of kindness to a complete stranger- turned my attitude around. I got my positive attitude back and I started smiling and encouraging everyone around me, waving at every officer and shouting "good job" to every runner.

I fell in line with Peter and Rachel, two people I had never met before but who laughed, chatted, and encouraged me to the finish. I taught Rachel about using positive words (she was a first timer) and Peter and I spoke about biology and neuroscience. The skies opened, the sun came out, and we made it to the finish!!!! I will never ever forget how much I earned that medal. It brings tears to my eyes even typing this. My dad is so, so proud of me and I truly gutted that out. I am so proud to #runCLE !!!!!


Rachel Hoffman 1

Rachel Hoffman 2


marvin solganik - legacy runner

Introducing the 3rd face of the 40 Faces of the Cleveland Marathon, Marvin Solganik! Marvin is one of our legacy runners as well as a long-time friend of Executive Director, Jack Staph. For 25 years, Marvin worked with Mr. Staph at Revco where the two would use their lunch breaks to get in their daily runs. For work, Marvin traveled the world and made sure to run wherever he landed including Italy, France, Jamaica, Mexico and Israel to name a few. “It’s easy to throw your running shoes in your suitcase - no excuses”, he joked.

Marvin has been running since he was in his 20’s and continues to run today. As a child, he was overweight and struggled with his self-image, then made the decision to start working out, watch his diet & keep active. Marvin’s running started a journey for fitness, not only for himself, but for his entire family. His wife, Judy and 3 children, Randy, Janet & Robert, all have competed in one of the Cleveland Marathon races.

What does he love about the Cleveland Marathon?
“I’ve met so many great people from all over the world including running legends in the early Cleveland Marathon days. Plus, the race is very well organized, the volunteers are terrific & it's one of the best races and I’ve been to many different cities”, he stated.

Marvin’s favorite Cleveland experience was in 2012 when Marvin planned on running the 10k. At the start of the race, Marvin was excited to see his friends and family up on the start stand as he approached the start mat. While friends were waving to him to stay back - it wasn’t time, Marvin thought they were waving and cheering for him and joyfully started the race, only he started the Half Marathon instead of the 10k. “I ran the half marathon and stayed on course - by accident - quite an accomplishment!




Marvin Solganik (1)


Delrico McDonald - student and we run this city participant

"My favorite part about the Rite Aid Marathon is the feeling of accomplishment as I cross the finish line. I started my running career with the We Run This City youth marathon program 6 years ago. While participation in WRTC I have ran 3 distances; the 1.2, 10k, and half marathon. I ran the last 1.2 miles of the Cleveland Marathon for 4 years, it was something to start off with. Then I progressed to the 10k, it was challenging but inspired me to then run the half marathon. Running the Half, was a new experience for me. I like participating in the Cleveland Marathon and WRTC because you have people cheering for you at the finish line, people motivating you throughout the course, and meeting new runners. For this upcoming year, I will train for the full marathon because it will be a new challenge and enjoy the longer distances. My love is running"

Delrico McDonald





September 2016

alissa kolarik

Alissa Kolarik began running in 2015 because of a rough year and a 30th birthday approaching. She thought running races would be a good way to celebrate a milestone birthday. Little did she know, life had a different path for her....

Alissa's first half marathon was in May of '15 where she kept a great pace until mile 12.5 - she felt a sharp pain in her hip but kept going because she just thought she pulled something & still somehow managed to finish in 1:58:18! Her husband took her to urgent care after that race where they gave the news that her hip was broken. She had surgery the following week to have a compression screw inserted. She would have pulled out of the race but she says "who thinks their hip is broken"?! Alissa was weight bearing after the surgery but wasn't allowed to run for 2 months. Even when she started running again, she could only manage 1-2 miles without ending up in pain and having to stop. She pushed through agonizing pains & stressful days but worked her way up to participate in a 10K in December of "15! After that race, she decided to do as many races as she could in '16 to celebrate her 30th birthday :) She says, "It has been a fun year and I am so glad I was able to get through an injury and continue something I love so much, RUN"!

Her favorite Cleveland Marathon experience was finishing the '16 race. It was her 2nd half marathon since her injury and her best time ever! "Seeing that clock and knowing how well I did, despite the weather, despite my past, despite everything - that was the best feeling in the world. It was my first race as a 30 year old and my proudest moment this year"!

Alissa Kolarik


casey smith

For most of his life, Casey has been extremely overweight. During college, he found himself at his highest weight of 312 pounds and wearing a size 42x32. During his senior year, before graduation, he decided he needed a lifestyle change and began a low-carb diet and started walking. Before he knew it, his walking led to running and in the first 60 days, he lost a total of 53 pounds!! The longer he did this diet and continued running, his life got better and was an overall happier individual.

In 2010, Casey ran his first 5K with a time of 34:51. Since then, he has continued to run and has completed 2 half marathons already this year! 2016 was his first Cleveland Marathon :) He says "What an experience that was"! For about 2 & 1/2 hours he endured rain, snow, sleet, & hail all followed by 70 degree sunshine after the race was complete. "It was truly an experience I will never forget", Casey says. He is obsessed with the city of Cleveland and is proud to say that he has already booked his room at the new Hilton Downtown and on the first day of open registration, he signed up for the 2017 Cleveland Marathon!

Casey is a big supporter of Cleveland and his favorite part of the run was just running through the streets of downtown and being able to see the awesome skyline (between the sleet and snow). He truly believes that this low-carb lifestyle, along with running, has saved his life and made him a better person. He finally feels like he is a part of a great group of people and for the first time in his life, he's on a "team" and not the kid on the bench the entire game


Casey Smith


David rathman - volunteer

BIO - "I have been an avid runner racing in a number of different events ranging from 5K to marathons. 3 years ago, I volunteered for the Cleveland Marathon weekend to give back from the races I ran. I volunteered for the 10K race on Saturday and stuck around to help with the kids' race. It was a rainy day as it tends to be the Saturday before the big race, but very fun as everyone quickly bonded with each other. I met many of the crew members from Cleveland Marathon & by the end of the day, I had asked Joan Freese for her contact information. I intended to become more involved in the coming years with all the hard work and fun.

The following year, I helped with the races again on Saturday and worked the gear check on Sunday. I was a bit nervous as I didn't know what to expect. In all the races I have participated in, I had not used the gear check so this was definitely foreign to me. I mentally prepared myself for thousands of bags holding racers' personal belongings. It was very challenging, yet rewarding. It gives you a great feeling to help the participants, handing the bag over to them, congratulating them on their accomplishment & chatting with them for a bit before you relive the high again with the next person walking up to gear check.

This past year, I helped with all the above and added the expo to the mix. With the setup at the expo helping participants signup, change races, pickup their bags and shirts, it provided a new view on what added work it takes to put on this event. The race weekend is over in a flash, but it takes so many hours over the months with many discussions and meetings. A person would normally think that once a race is complete and successful, one would simply just need to hit repeat each year and have it done in a flash. I started volunteering for the Cleveland Marathon weekend as I felt it was my duty to give back to the other racers. Year after year, I come back not to just help fellow racers but to help out the people who stress over the preparations and details hashed out throughout the many months leading up to the race.

I urge other runners and walkers to volunteer for any races to give back and to open their lives into the world on the other side of the registration table, including family and friends who have seen their loved ones participate in the races. I believe it will be an experience and feeling you won't soon forget."

David Rathman


Skylar jones

Skylar started running in April of 2015 (yes - just a year and a half ago) and ran her first 5k, after that she knew she loved running! Within 11 months of running, she ran her first marathon. Her love of long distance running continued when she signed up for Pittsburgh, then 2 weeks later ran Cleveland as a "Birthday Marathon" since her birthday was just a few days after race day! Running Cleveland qualified her into the "Marathon Maniac" club by completing 2 marathons in 16 days. Cleveland marathon was a fun day for her as she had no time-goal since she had run a marathon 2 weeks before, but ended up finishing 8 seconds faster than Pittsburgh!

Her favorite Cleveland Experience - " At this year's event, my friend and I found it quite humorous that it was hailing, snowing, raining, thundering, and a very windy day for May 15. The volunteers and crowd support were awesome, especially considering the conditions that day. Although the weather was not ideal, runners were not complaining, and doing what they love, RUN! I loved it so much that I signed up for the full marathon for 2017! I ran my first trail 50k in June (4 weeks after Cleveland) and I only signed up spontaneously 4 days before. I love long distance running, and my dog does as well. When running trails, or if it is a cool day out, my dog Rooney will join me for 10-12 miles. She enjoys every second and those that come for the run enjoy her company as well. I love the running community, and all the camaraderie that comes with it!"

Skylar Jones.jpg