Peace Race draws more than 2,000 participants

Top: Participants of the 2013 Youngstown Peace Race take their place at the starting line on Kirk Road. Left: Runners cross the finish line of the race, which ended in downtown Youngstown’s Federal Plaza. 1,015 runners competed in the 10k, while the Peace Race drew over 2,000 competitors overall. Photos by Steve Wilaj/The Jambar.

Runners from all over Ohio, other states and even other countries came out in abundance for Sunday’s 2013 Youngstown Peace Race.
This year, 1,015 people participated in the main event 10k race, which began at the intersection of Kirk Road and Schenley Avenue in Youngstown, ran through Mill Creek Park and ended in downtown’s Federal Plaza.
“It went really well,” Kelli Johnston, a first-time participant and sophomore at Youngstown State University, said. “It was a really beautiful course, and it was nice to run through the park on such a nice day.”
Elijah Muturi of Kenya won the 39th annual race, which featured many elite competitors from all over the world.  The 31-year-old finished the 6.2-mile course — which required a 4.5-mile run through Mill Creek Park — in 29 minutes and 13 seconds.
“This course was very good to me,” Muturi said. “Very nice weather. Good people cheering everywhere.”
Spectators filled the downtown streets and cheered the runners all the way to the finish line.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Jenna Sliwinski, a junior at YSU, said. “It’s different because it sponsors a lot of different things, so everybody comes together.”
Major sponsors for the race included the Eastwood Mall and Dunkin Donuts. Meanwhile, the proceeds of the event were donated to numerous local charities, including the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley and Akron Children’s Hospital.
“We keep the money in the valley,” Mark Sorrentino, Peace Race board member, said.  “It stays here, which is why it’s so important to get the participation from our local people.”
The Peace Race featured a 2-mile race prior to the 10k, which drew 619 competitors and was won by 17-year-old Patrick O’Brien of Youngstown. That was preceded by a free 400m kid’s run.
In all, the event drew over 2,000 participants.
“The kids all had a great time and they walked away with a smile,” Sorrentino said. “The 2-mile went off well, too.  So, it’s great just to come down, participate and be a part of this is great tradition.”
Jessica Odorcic, of Madison, Ohio, won the 10k Women’s Open, finishing in 33 minutes and 35 seconds.
“I’ve run this race four or five times now, and it’s a great race and good competition,” she said. “It’s a nice course, and I like the organization.”
Canton’s Ryan Kienzle was the first American to finish, placing third with a time of 30 minutes and 31 seconds. He said being an Ohio native made the experience priceless.
“Coming out here and having such an elite field and knowing everybody here is real special,” Kienzle said. “Just staying in your hometown and getting support — they do a good job of supporting. So it’s definitely really special.”
Johnston agreed, impressed by the wide age range that participated.
“It’s incredible,” she said. “There’s people in their 70’s running it, and it just makes you want to keep doing what you’re doing.”
As beneficial as the event is for everything it supports, Sliwinski said it’s a great personal challenge as well.
“It’s more like an accomplishment,” she said. “You finish for you, not for anyone else. So it is all in your head — it’s how bad you want it.”