2021 union home mortgage Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors

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Allison Szedlock

Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Program Manager

Allison is a mother and sunrise runner. She began running in college and spent all summer of her senior year training for the NYC Marathon, but a week before the race, she was diagnosed with lupus and anemia and was unable to run. After her diagnosis, she took a few years off to focus on her overall health. Once things stabilized, she slowly began to increase her mileage and ran her first half marathon in 2013 and became hooked on distance running. Allison decided to give the full marathon distance another chance after her daughter was born and completed the Marine Corps Marathon in 2015. Over the years she has continued to run and sees no slowing down in the near future – completing 10 marathons, a 50k, a 50-miler, and countless other distances including trail races and an obstacle race.

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 Spencer Baker

Spencer Baker

Spencer ran his first marathon, the Cleveland Marathon, in 2018 and has been running marathons since. He has completed the Cleveland Marathon the last three years and is looking forward to running it again in 2021 as part of the Challenge Series, with the 10K on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday. Spencer started as a five hour plus marathoner and has achieved a PR of 4:28:52. He has goals of running all six of the marathon majors and running a marathon in all fifty states. Spencer runs to help himself stay healthy, both mentally and physically, and to challenge himself to push beyond his perceived limits. Spencer looks forward to running The Land with everyone this spring!

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 Melissa Koski Carney

Melissa Carney

Melissa is an Ohio transplant from New York. A 30-something mom of two, she recently moved with her family from their downtown apartment to a nearly 100-year-old home in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She ran her first half marathon 10 years ago and caught the running bug. She has run the Cleveland Marathon half marathon nearly every year, except the years she was 9+ months pregnant and then she even completed the 10k. When she's not running, Melissa enjoys baking, reading, and chasing after her 4- and 2-year-old kids. She blogs regularly at I Crashed The Web.

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Melissa Chamberlain (1)

Melissa Chamberlain

Melissa is a regular mom who enjoys running on her lunch breaks and in her free time. She has completed a full marathon, over a dozen half marathons and lots of other races. Outside of running, she is a proud mom and stepmom of 4 busy boys. She enjoys spending time with her husband and boys. Since 2010, the Cleveland Marathon has meant so much to Melissa. She has run it next to family and friends, had her sons at the finish line, and even got engaged at the VIP reception dinner. She is honored to be asked back to be an ambassador for the 7th year in a row and loves the people she has met through the organization

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 Kendall Des Vinges

Kendall Des Vinges

Kendall was overweight, hypertensive, on 2 medications, and pre-diabetic… and then running changed his life! He is a firm believer in one’s ability to take control of their chronic medical condition and turn it around for better days ahead.

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Adam Gockowski

Adam Gockowski

Adam has been running consistently since January 2017 as a way to stay in shape, both physically and mentally. He is a regular attendee of local running (and brew) clubs and loves the social aspect of the sport. To stay accountable and competitive with himself, he registers for at least one race, every month, with distances ranging anywhere from 5K to half marathon. To encourage others to get into running, he created “Acey McGlockstar Runnin Club” on Instagram. Outside of running, Adam is a lifelong Cleveland sports fan, especially the Indians. You may remember him as the 2014 Tribe’s “Governor of Brohio.” Yep, he was that guy!

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Leah Kilbane

Leah Kilbane

Running has always been an activity that Leah has enjoyed and incorporated several times a week in her fitness routine, but her true passion for the sport didn’t develop until she experienced the “runners high” after running her first race in 2015. Leah’s love for the Cleveland Marathon began in 2016 after completing the half marathon. In the summer of 2016, she sustained a hip fracture training for her first full marathon. After a long 6 months of recovery, the 2017 Cleveland half marathon was her comeback race. Since the injury, Leah has completed numerous half marathons and 3 full marathons. Leah has continued to run for many reasons, mainly for fitness and health, but also for the physical and mental challenge of setting and attaining personal goals. You will see Leah running with her awesome Days Dam friends and Team Riot group. Outside of running, Leah is married, a mom to 4 amazing children, and works full-time as a Critical Care Nurse Practitioner for University Hospitals Saint John Medical Center in the Intensive Care Unit

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Heather Kuch

Heather Kuch

Heather is a lawyer and former collegiate volleyball player turned runner when looking for a way to stay active after graduation. Her journey started when she signed up for her first race, a half marathon, knowing that it would be a way to keep her active and fit during the last semester of college. After running that race, Heather fell in love with the sport and signed up for another half and then another, and then a full, and now she’s training to qualify for Boston. Fitness and running have become a regular part of her life and as a result, she has lost over 60lbs on her journey, completed 11 full marathons, 21 half marathons, and countless other distances in between. Plus, she found an outlet that she never knew she needed.

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Emily Lee

Emily Lee

Emily has been an avid runner for almost 20 years! Her favorite distance is the half marathon and she’s completed 47 races and has dabbled in the full marathon distance 7 times. She is currently working on her postpartum running comeback after having her first baby last Thanksgiving! Emily absolutely loved being able to share stroller miles with her daughter during their first year together and they even completed the virtual Cleveland Half in May together. Emily can’t wait to be back in Cleveland this spring so her daughter can experience the true race weekend energy

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Stephanie Teppner

Stephanie Lesco Teppner

Stephanie is a mom of 4, stepmom of 3, wife, public health professional, and runner since 2009. This is her ninth year as a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador and she is incredibly honored and humbled to be part of the team. She's participated in nearly all Cleveland Marathon race distances, but the half and full marathon distances are her favorites. She is most proud of the fact running has become a family affair, with her children, husband, and dad joining her throughout the years.

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 Melissa Mantkowski

Melissa Mantkowski

Melissa is a Northeast Ohio native whose running adventures began with track and field and continued through the years as a hobby. Melissa enjoys running 5Ks but decided to push her limits and take on her first half marathon in 2013. A few years and a few half marathons later in 2018, she completed her first full marathon! When Melissa isn’t running, she enjoys reading, traveling, and playing with her Chocolate Lab Sheldon. Melissa is excited and honored to be running her first ever Cleveland Marathon race as an ambassador!

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Tracey Roe

Tracy Roe

Tracy is a wife and a mother of 3. She is a Special Education teacher in the New Castle Area School District. Her first race ever was the 2004 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and this is where her passion for running began. Since then, she’s run numerous half marathons, 10 milers, 10ks, 5ks, and even a sprint triathlon. Through her years of running, she realized she wanted to work with others to reach their full potential with running and became a certified RRCA Run Coach. She’s thankful to join the Cleveland Marathon ambassador program and wants to give back to the Cleveland Marathon since that is where it all began.

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Jen Solanics

Jen completed her first 5k in October 2016 and still considers herself a newer runner. Jen grew up hating running but made a goal to complete a 5k. Like most first races, it didn't go well, but she didn't give up! Instead, Jen found a running community she loves and has since completed more than 13 half marathons and various Ragnar races. She swore she would never do a full marathon but completed her first full in May 2019 at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon! Jen lives in Dayton, OH, but grew up in a suburb of Cleveland. She loves the city and its sports teams. When she isn't running, Jen enjoys playing sand volleyball and softball, baking, and crafting. Jen’s favorite thing about the running community is that everyone always supports and encourages each other, no matter whether you're a 5-minute miler or a 14-minute miler.

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Mary Sutter

Mary Sutter

Mary began running as a part of a major weight loss journey, but it has become so much more than that! It is therapy, a way to stay healthy, and has also become a way to see different parts of the country. What better way to see a city than run 13.1 miles through it? Ok… maybe running 26.2 miles through it! This year Mary is coming back after spending most of 2020 injured and is looking forward to running the streets of Cleveland once again!

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Christopher Thaxton

Christopher Thaxton

Christopher is a proud Local 55 Union Plumber who takes pride in building The Land, as well as running its streets and parks. In 2017, he made a lifestyle change and incorporated running into his fitness journey. Down 100lbs, he ran his first Cleveland Half Marathon in 2018 and even before he crossed the finish line, he knew his next goal was to tackle a marathon. He has since run multiple marathons, half marathons, and 5ks. Christopher has earned his Abbott World Major Stars in Chicago and NYC in 2019 and was set to run Boston and Berlin in 2020, but those are now on hold. Christopher is excited to be returning as an ambassador for Cleveland Marathon weekend this year. Cleveland is home and this race holds many memories. He can’t wait to make more! He enjoys training runs in the Cleveland Metroparks and city miles with “Run With the Winners” and resides in Fairview Park with his wife of 11 years and their rescued/rehomed dog Koda.

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Mark White

Mark ran cross-country and track in high school and was an assistant coach for his high school teams while in college. As life happens, running became inconsistent until he was bitten again by the running bug, thanks to the 2012 Cleveland Marathon. Challenged by a friend to run the half marathon together, he began training regularly. Pleasantly surprised with the results, this led to another, even faster half and then the lottery fate of being selected for the Chicago Marathon in 2013, his first full marathon. Mark qualified for the Boston Marathon and went on to run it in 2015. He has also run the Columbus and Indianapolis Marathons, and has time-qualified for the New York City and Boston marathons in 2021. Mark’s day job is on the marketing and communications team at University Hospitals (the official medical team of the Cleveland Marathon). He enjoys giving back to the sport by coaching cross country at Walsh Jesuit High School, and coaching CYO track and serving as the race director for a 5K at Immaculate Heart of Mary, his daughter’s school. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Cuyahoga Falls. Mark despises treadmills, so he can be found most mornings running well before the sun comes up with the Canal Rats running group.

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