Bravely facing unseasonably frigid temperatures, roughly 1800 runners crossed the starting line at the corner of Sycamore and Front Streets for the 2022 Celebration Marathon on Sunday, January 30. About 1350 were competing in the half marathon (13.1 miles) and 450 in the full marathon (26.2 miles). A total of 68 Celebration residents were among the contestants. Many runners hailed from outside Florida, including those from as far away as Reykjavik, Sao Paulo, Santiago, and Rio de Janeiro.
“This is the ninth Celebration Marathon,” said Board President Ken Zambito. “The number of entrants was about the same as the 2020 race (there was none in 2021). Typically, about $90,000 is raised for beneficiaries that include Celebration Foundation Thriving In Place, two college scholarships ($2000 each) for each of the Osceola County High Schools and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Osceola County.”
According to Zambito, the Celebration Marathon is certified in terms of distance and is thus used by some runners to qualify for the Boston Marathon scheduled for Monday April 18, 2022 (www.baa.org). However, compared to the Boston race, the Celebration course is quite flat.
The Celebration Marathon finish line was on Market Street surrounded by a sea of cups containing bananas, pretzels and Coca-Cola and was tended by high school students; a first aid station; timing computers; and an event official photographer (not me, I only represented this publication). Other foods available for the post-race runners were provided by Celebration restaurants.
The first place Half Marathon runners were (men) J. Matthew Medeiros of Saranac, NY; and (women) Gabrielle Suver of Oakland, FL. The first place Marathon runners were (men) Joseph Hoch of Stoughton, WI; and (women) Christina Couper of Charlestown, SC. The oldest runner to finish was 86-year-old Nanette Rogers of Winter Haven. For more info: www.celebrationmarathon.com.
By Jim Siegel