YSU Past and Present Runners Compete: What Goes Into Preparing for the Youngstown Marathon?

By Kelcey Norris

Preparation begins months in advance for runners participating in the Youngstown Marathon, and for some athletes, taking the appropriate measures is key for a successful race. 

Over 850 community members participated  Oct. 27, including current and former Youngstown State University students. 

Rebecca Rudzik, a YSU alumna, ran in the Youngstown Marathon and said she was a part of cross country, track and field and indoor track activities during her time at YSU.  

Ellie (left) and Rebbeca (right) Rudzik pictured at the Youngstown Marathon. Photo courtesy of Rebbeca Rudzik

“I’ve been running for 36 years now,” Rudzik said. “After this long, it’s just what I do. A lot of my friendships have started out as running friends, and I’m still in contact with my college teammates.”

After setting multiple records in the beginning of the program, Rudzik was inducted into the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame for her track and field performance.

“I set several records while I was there, but they’ve all gone by the wayside, but I still have the indoor 800 record,”  she said. “I’m always amazed that I’ve held on to the record because YSU has had lots of girls come through.” 

Rudzik said she hopes to incorporate running in her family; in preparation for this race, she and her daughter have differing training methods.

“She promised we would go nice and slow since we have a marathon next week, and then she went out like a beast,” she said. 

Rudzik participated in the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio, and the Wineglass Marathon in New York so far this year. 

She said one of her most memorable races was far from her home in Youngstown at the iconic Boston Marathon. 

“Everyone who’d been there before kept saying, ‘Oh, the crowd is so small,’ but I kept thinking, ‘Wow, there’s a crowd,’” Rudzik said. “There wasn’t a part of the race where there wasn’t somebody there cheering you on.” 

Many of the friendships Rudzik made through running and competing in races have lasted a lifetime. 

“When you’re running a marathon and you’ve trained so hard for it, if you see another runner go down, you’re going to stop and see if they’re OK,” Rudzik said. “It’s about the camaraderie.” 

Isaac Woodward, a senior business administration major, said he competed in the 5K race and has been running in marathons for three years, including a triathlon. 

“I started running because of a former friend who was really into running,” Woodward said. “I really admire people who run because it takes an insane amount of discipline and commitment, which was something I wanted for myself.”  

Woodward said he prepares for a race by running, working out and cross- training with some motivation from his friends. 

He finished the 5K in 24:14, finishing fifth in his age group of males 20 to 24 years old.

Although the weather conditions were not ideal for outdoor exercise this year, Woodward said he proudly accepted his medal after crossing the finish line. 

“Pushing yourself in a sport translates to when you find yourself in a job and you really need to push yourself,” Woodward said. “Athletics gives you the discipline to do something you might not necessarily feel like doing that day.” 

Additionally, Crystal Siembida Boggs, assistant marketing director for the Youngstown Marathon, used her passion for running to help organize the Youngstown Marathon. 

“I ran my first full marathon last November myself, and the whole time was perfect. I didn’t stop the whole time,” Siembida Boggs said. “As soon as I crossed that finish line, I just started crying because I was so happy.” 

Runners take a stride at the Youngstown Marathon Otc.27. Photo courtesy of Crystal Siembida Boggs

As the public relations representative and social media manager, she is able to use her passion for the sport to create the feeling of triumph for others.

“Seeing other people get all teary-eyed at the end of the race made me cry because I know that feeling,” she said.