One of the things that Mark Rhinehart, laboratory information system analyst, likes best about his newest hobby is the bling. When he took up running competitively 20 months ago, he never guessed the race medals would be a source of encouragement. But his growing medal collection is one of his favorite ways to relive races, while inspiring him to continue running.
“The medals given out at races are beautiful, not some chintzy things,” Mark said. “They take me back to the race and remind me of that day and the friends I ran with.”
In fact, running has opened up a new world for Mark.
“I’ve made new friends and found an effective way to reduce my stress by running,” said Mark, whose job involves a lot of sitting and looking at a computer screen most days. “In 2012, I joined a gym because I was under a lot of stress. I needed a way to blow off steam. I would just go to the gym and run it out on the treadmill.”
A friend invited Mark to join a runner’s group in 2016, and he loved it.
“We meet at different parks around Akron and run as a group,” he said. “It’s nice to be out in nature while training for different races.”
Since joining the running group 20 months ago, Mark said he’s discovered what he calls “the sub-culture of runners.”
“For the most part, fellow runners are very supportive of each other,” he said. “Many races are put on to raise money for different charities, so you feel like you’re making a difference as well as enjoying a hobby – and you get a medal to boot! Also, when I’m running in races, the runners encourage each other. At races, everyone is really excited. If you’re walking, people will say, ‘C’mon, you can do it,’ and other things to motivate you to finish.”
Another bonus is how much running has improved Mark’s overall health.
“I never thought I would be the type of person who would like running,” he said. “I was 55 years old when I started running and thought it would just be something to try. I’ve met new friends, and found running really helps with my stress level. It helped me reduce my blood pressure medication and kept me off diabetes medication. I think I’m more fit now than I’ve ever been in my life. I certainly feel better than I ever have.”
Mark has participated in 13 races, most recently running 8K (nearly 5 miles) in the National Interstate 8K & 1 Mile event (the first race of the Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series). Additionally, he is signed up to run the 10K on Aug. 11 as part of the Goodyear Half Marathon & 10K. Last year, Mark ran all 3 races in the Race Series. By doing so, he received a special race series medal.
Interested in running, volunteering or cheering on the participants in the 2018 Akron Children’s Hospital Akron Marathon Race Series? Visit akronmarathon.org.