GAMBIER — He’s been running marathons for just three years. But Fort Wayne, Ind. native Grant Stieglitz established one of the best times in the history of the Earth Day Challenge marathon in Gambier on Sunday.
Stieglitz won with a time of 2:49:36, beating last year’s best time by 12 minutes and registering the second-best time in five years.
“Running is a passion of mine,” said Stieglitz. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was in high school cross country. The running bug just stuck with me, and it’s stuck with me ever since.”
Stieglitz, 27, has been distance running since middle school, when he joined the cross country team. He stuck with running through high school and has since begun using a running coach.
Sunday was his first try at the Earth Day Challenge.
“Comparing the results from last year, there was a chance that I might win,” said Steiglitz. “So, I thought, let’s give it a shot and see how it goes.”
The chilly temperatures of Sunday morning did little to dampen the spirits of the runners. Running enthusiasts agree that lower temperatures mean better times. Stieglitz’s next marathon, however, won’t be quite so frigid.
“The next marathon is in Hawai’i,” said Stieglitz. “I’m going to run Kona with my coach. ... It’s an experience for me, because I want to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. Right now, I have Ind., Michigan and Ohio. So, Hawai’i is going to be state No. 4.”
It turned out to be a relatively tight finish, as Stieglitz finished ahead of Jacob Ort by only 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
The top female finisher was Aldona Stungys, 41, who finished with a time of 3:30:22. Sarah Davis followed with a 3:32:18.
Eric Stanley (3:06:06) won the age 30-39 male category. Kevin McCleary (3:05:27) was tops in the male age 40-49 division, Christopher Kim (3:33:11) had the best time for males age 50-59, and Ron Wightman (3:25:56) had the best time for males age 60 and over.
Megan Zahorec (3:41:24) scored the best time for women age 20-29. Rita Barnes (3:37:17) was the fastest female 50 and over.