union home mortgage Cleveland Marathon Ambassadors

Meet our 2022 Ambassadors and follow along on their journey as they train for the the 2022 Union Home Mortgage Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, or Challenge Series!

 

 Ambassador Allison Szedlock

Allison Szedlock

Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Program Manager

Allison is a mother runner logging most of her miles while chasing the sunrise. After disliking running throughout her childhood (it oftentimes was punishment for a bad play in sports), 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, dozens of half marathons, and countless other distances including trail races and even an obstacle race.

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Ambassador Shauna Aylward

Shauna Aylward

Shauna was born and raised in Cleveland and has been a runner for almost 20 years. She mostly ran 5ks and a couple miles for fun, but her friend convinced her to sign up for the Cleveland Half Marathon in 2014 and she immediately fell in love with distance running. (She may have also been convinced to since up for her first marathon immediately after this race...). Since then, she has completed 25 half marathons, 3 marathons, and even dabbled in the ultramarathon territory with recently completing her first 50k! However, the half marathon will always be her favorite distance. Not only does she enjoy running for the countless mental and physical benefits, but she loves all the friends she has made throughout Cleveland's running community. She participates in the Cleveland Marathon events every year, and is excited to represent her hometown marathon this year!

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 Spencer Baker

Spencer Baker

Spencer ran his first marathon, the Cleveland Marathon, in 2018 and hasn't looked back. This year he looks forward to completing his fifth consecutive Cleveland Marathon. Spencer started as a five hour plus marathoner and has achieved a PR of three hours and thirty-five minutes. He loves running for the world of possibilities for self-improvement that it opens up for anyone who chooses to take on a new distance, a new time, or simply to be the best version of themselves on any given day. 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 Koski Carney (known as @koskim on social media) is a Cleveland transplant from New York. If you would've told her 10-year-old self that she would be a race ambassador, she would've laughed. Melissa didn't start running long distances regularly until after college. She ran her first half marathon 12 years ago and caught the running bug, running Cleveland's half marathon several years in a row. When she’s not running, Melissa works full time as a marketing communications professional and spends her weekends chasing after her three kids (all ages 5 and under), baking and reading. Cleveland Marathon Weekend is her favorite weekend of the year and she is excited to be a returning ambassador. 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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 Ambassador Laraun Clayton

LaRaun Clayton

LaRaun Clayton is an U.S. Army veteran, Nonprofit professional and Certified Yoga Instructor living in Cleveland. He’s a lover of all things Cleveland, Yoga, CrossFit, Running and traveling with his husband. LaRaun was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio but now lives in Cleveland. Majority of his professional career has been dedicated to supporting/advocating for Veterans, the LGBTQIA+ Community, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Currently he works for Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana as the Director of Compliance and Quality Improvement.

He completed his first Cleveland half marathon in 2019. During the race he sustained a minor injury that prevented him from running at his best, so his intention shifted to “Just getting across the finish line”. He’s always participated in the local 5ks and various races for fun. The pandemic refreshed his love for running. The 2021 Cleveland half marathon was a redemption race for him and one of his greatest running memories to date. The full marathon is on his list to complete before turning 40, so we’ll see where this goes.

LaRaun loves leaning in to challenges because there is no greater feeling than knowing “we can do hard things”. He is excited to participate in the Cleveland Marathon weekend as an ambassador and create more memories with this community.

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Ambassador Matt Drol

Matt Drol

Matt Drol is a dad of three, a husband, a finance manager, and the running banana. He has always been a runner off and on, but in 2016 he began running as a way to get back in shape. To keep the running fun and joyous, he takes to the streets in a very aPEELing outfit choice. The Cleveland half is special to him since it’s the first race he ran in the banana costume. Since then he’s completed 2 marathons, 10 half marathons and countless 5ks rocking the banana. He looks forward to hitting the streets of Cleveland for the fifth time as the banana and dishing out a BUNCH of high fives!

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Ambassador 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 Guardians (Formerly the Indians). You may remember him as the 2014 Tribe’s “Governor of Brohio.” Yep, he was that guy!

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Ambassador Ryan Green

Ryan Green

Ryan has been running and heavily involved in all sports since a kid. Now, a father of two little girls, he is still running and playing sports with his kids. Ryan’s athletic background ranges from Crossfit Competitions to Ultra Marathons, Collegiate Basketball, numerous road races and his favorite annual race, The Cleveland Marathon. Ryan trains for these races by catching weekly runs with the Run With The Winners group, through the streets of Cleveland. When he’s not running or playing with his kids and dog, Ryan spends his day time hours by working with troubled youth in the community. How is Ryan training for this years Cleveland Marathon? He will be doing that by running 326 miles from Cincinnati to Cleveland this spring.

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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. The 2022 Cleveland Marathon will be Leah’s 7th year participating in the race and her second year as an ambassador representing Cleveland. 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. Outside of running, Leah is a barre instructor at Westside Barre, a local studio in Avon.

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Ambassador Morgan Le Jeune

Morgan Le Jeune

Morgan is a full time working mother runner from Pittsburgh. She works as an anti money laundering and sanctions advisor and is a mom to two girls (ages 4 and 7). She has run 2 full marathons and dozens of other distances. She is coming back from a knee fracture and is excited to be back in the groove of training!

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Emily Lee

Emily Lee

Emily has been a runner for 20 years and has been loving the new season of life as a Mother Runner! Her first Half Marathon was Cleveland in 2014, the race day joy was contagious and it quickly became a favorite! Emily loves the thrill of 13.1 & is looking forward to running it again through the streets of the C-L-E in May. She loves the excitement of race day, the familiar faces in the crowd and the inspiration that lifts the city as it wakes up on race day. Emily cannot wait to be back along the lake & finish strong with her family there in support!

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Ambassador 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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Ambassador Pam Rickard

Pam Rickard

Over the 35+ years of her running career, Pam Rickard has completed countless races, including more than 100 marathons and ultra-marathons. During the past 15 years, her races have included a 7-day adventure across China’s Gobi Desert and a 100k trek through the Alps from Italy to France, as well as 10 NYC, and 11 Boston finishes.

Pam’s first marathon was the 10th annual Cleveland Marathon, Sunday, May 15, 1988. She’s run Cleveland several times since, including celebrating her 50th marathon in Cleveland in 2017, and her 64th at the 2021 race. In 2019, her dad, Robert Virant ran the Cleveland Marathon 10K with her to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Sober since April 17, 2006, her journey from addiction to recovery was featured in the 2008 book “A Race Like No Other,” New York Times writer Liz Robbins’ chronicle of the 2007 New York City Marathon. She was also a member of the 2016 6-person Icebreaker Run team, running across the United States in 24 days to bring awareness to mental health issues.

Originally from Willoughby, Ohio, Pam lives in Rocky Mount, VA and serves as Director of Active Engagement for Herren Project, former NBA basketball player Chris Herren’s foundation. Pam heads up Team Herren Project, an initiative engaging people to run, walk, and participate in healthy activities, helping each other, and others, live stronger, healthier lives. The work raises awareness and funding for Herren Project’s mission, which includes providing prevention and addiction recovery resources and support for all affected by the disease.

Pam says, “without asking for help & finding my own recovery, none of my running (or any) success would be possible. I don’t have to run, I get to.”

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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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 Ambassador Kenneth Sullivan

Kenneth Sullivan

Ken is a Cleveland native who ran cross country and track for St. Ignatius and Duke University. He ran his first marathon at Columbus in 2016 and got hooked on the distance. He set a marathon personal best of 2 hours and 29 minutes in 2017, and was the top Ohio finisher at the Boston Marathon in 2018. After winning the Cleveland Half Marathon from 2017-19, he’s excited to try the full this year! A high school history teacher and coach, he and his wife currently reside in Pittsburgh (Go Browns), but are pumped to come back to Cleveland for marathon weekend this year.

Ken has stayed involved in the Cleveland area through GOH Run, an NEO nonprofit that provides youth camps and races and puts on the Guardian Mile, a one mile community road race across the Hope Memorial Bridge each summer.

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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 facing further health issues in 2021. She is looking forward to running the streets of Cleveland once again - follow her for info on coming back post-pandemic and post-health issues!

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Ambassador Stephanie Teppner

Stephanie Teppner

Stephanie is a mom of 4, stepmom of 3, wife, and public health professional. She first laced up her running shoes in 2009 as a way to improve her physical and mental health and has never looked back. This is her tenth year as a Cleveland Marathon Ambassador, and she has participated in nearly all distances the race has to offer, with the half marathon and full marathon being her favorites. She is most proud of the fact the Cleveland Marathon has become a family affair, and her children, husband, and father have joined her throughout the years. If you see them on the race course, give Team Lesco a shout out!

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 Christopher Thaxton

Christopher Thaxton

Christopher is the training instructor for Plumbers Local 55 who takes pride educating the tradespersons responsible for building The Land. 
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, 5ks and the Hood to Coast 199 mile relay race in Oregon last summer.
Christopher has earned Abbott World Major Marathon Stars in Chicago and NYC in ‘19 , Boston in ‘21 and has Berlin on the calendar for ‘23. 
He started training as a multi sport athlete and completed his first sprint triathlon in ‘21 and quickly followed it up with an Olympic distance triathlon. He will be competing in triathlons this year including Cleveland, USAT Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee and his first 70.3 in NY. 
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 can be seen joining group runs/workouts throughout Cleveland with RunWildCLE, Run With the Winners, SoleTrain and Fleet Feet. 
He resides in Fairview Park with his wife of 13 years and their rescued/rehomed dog Koda.

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Ambassador Christine Toth

Christina Toth

As far back as I can remember, I have loved sports and being an athlete. I grew up playing volleyball, basketball, and softball at Austintown Fitch, graduating in 1997. I went on to Thiel College to pursue a degree in Mathematics and Secondary Education, as well as play collegiate volleyball at Thiel. I hold many records at Thiel, and was named team MVP my sophomore, junior and seniors years. Also, named to the President Athletic Conference team every year. In 2019, I was inducted into the Austintown Fitch Athletic Hall of Fame for volleyball, basketball, and softball.

I have coached Varsity Volleyball, Varsity Softball, and middle school girl's basketball for the Ravenna School District, where I have taught High School Math the past 21 years. I also was the Prom Advisor at RHS for 15 years.

After I retired from coaching in 2012, I decided to start running and fell in love with the sport. I have completed two full marathons and numerous half marathons, while also running local 5K's and 10K's. My favorite distance is the 10 miler. My Dad bikes next to me on all of my training runs and most of my races; he is my biggest cheerleader. My Mom also bikes next to me as I run on the bike trail in the warmer months. I'm an avid weightlifter, and really enjoy getting stronger as an athlete and a runner.
A few interesting things about me: I have severe scoliosis and must take precautions in order to run, I have had lasik eye surgery, and lived upstairs of a funeral home from when I was born until I was two years old.

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Ambassador Allison Wukotich

Allison Wukotich

Allison is an avid runner who loves running, walking, hiking, biking, lifting, reading, teaching English at Minerva High School, and eating peanut butter and graham central station ice cream from Handel's. She also may spend too much time watching The Office, Friends, and Schitt's Creek re-runs. Allison was born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland but now lives in Youngstown, Ohio. Allison's first marathon was Cleveland in 2010, and she tries to get back to her hometown as often as possible. Her favorite running memories are running the Marine Corps Marathon in 2011, celebrating her dad (Vietnam Vet) and brother (Desert Storm Vet), and attending Geoff Roes Ultra Running Camp in Alaska. Allison has dabbled in all distances, but she loves the half marathon the best! Finally, she is thankful to be alive after a life saving surgery on December 7, 2021. Her family (husband, mom, dad, brother and his family, daughter, two step-children, and cat, Willow-pants) and close friends are what keep her positive and moving forward.

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