The Burner: A Sense of Accomplishment

Jim Marucci, founder of the Burner, helps John Madeline, Burner course expert, jump across the Ova and Unda obstacle course to demonstrate that participants are never alone in the race. Chad Macek, Burner personal trainer, walks over to assist his companions. Photo by Alyssa Pawluk/The Jambar.

On Saturday, students, faculty and anyone with an athletic spirit participated in The Burner: “Ohio’s toughest 7-mile obstacle course.”

The Burner is an event where participants are free to run through seven miles of tough terrain, mud and challenging obstacles for over 200 acres of land. It was held at Big Game Raceway on 2601 Elmwood Drive.

The event started at 10 a.m. and lasted all day. The cost to attend was $100, but 10 percent of the proceeds are donated to Akron Children’s Hospital in the Mahoning Valley.

Jim Marucci, managing member of Winger Productions LLC and owner of Afterburner FX, started the event with the help of his daughter Dana Marucci two years ago when his son, Jimmy Marucci II, passed away from cancer.

“We wanted to keep his name going and keep things alive, and we came up with this. Everyone says doing mud runs is so cool, so dynamic, and you get so many people going to them. So I thought, you know what, we’ll donate money to Akron Children’s Hospital in Jimmy’s name,” Marucci said.

Winger Productions LLC, a motion picture and video distribution company, sponsors the event along with Afterburner FX, Knoll Run Golf Course, Marucci and Gaffney Excavating, M&R Power Equipment, New Castle School of Trades, Joy Global and Gasser Chair Company.

This year’s Burner had over 220 people register from the Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, and Marucci presented a check of $2,000 to the Akron Children’s Hospital thanks to the turnout.

Candace Madden, development assistant at the Akron Children’s Hospital in Mahoning Valley, said that the donations are appreciated.

John Madeline, Burner course expert, climbs across the Last Call obstacle as Chad Macek, Burner personal trainer, waits at the end to assist him. photo by Alyssa Pawluk/The Jambar.

“We are very grateful to have the partnership because every dollar does count, and all of the money raised from this event, as well as everything else, stays local, and the Mahoning Valley does support the programs and services here,” Madden said.

Runners were rewarded with a set of dog tags, a T-shirt, medal, headband and refreshments once they completed the course. Marucci said that participants do not have to be physically fit to compete, and that the event is aimed at having fun.

“The majority of people that do this are not what you would call Schwarzenegger or world class fitness shape. They are just people that want to have fun, and it is an accomplishment. This is not an event where you are on your own. This is an event where warriors get together and have a great time. We help everybody and everybody helps us,” Marucci said. “It’s all about camaraderie.”

The obstacles that participants had to overcome included Da’ Wall, a 12-foot ramp in the middle of the mud, and the Last Call, a 10- to 12-foot wooden wall that runners have to walk and hang across while a mud pit awaits them below.

Marucci said that the value people get out of this event is a sense of accomplishment.

“It’s challenging you to do something that not everybody does. Once you do an event like this, it gives you that warrior status,” he said. “It’s always about challenging yourself to do better, to go farther, and that is what we are doing down here. It’s a sense of accomplishment.”

Rachel Toby, a volunteer for The Burner and employee of Afterburner FX, said that she supports those who ran in the event.

“I have never run it, but I come out here and cheer people on, and I get to see quite a bit of the course taking pictures,” Toby said. “Everybody has such a good time.”