MEDINA — Friends and family gathered around the Medina square on Friday morning for the 39th annual Twin Sizzler to kick off their Fourth of July weekend.
The number of people continues to grow, as more than a thousand enjoyed the perfect weather, participating in the four race competitions, fun run and 5K walk.
“They’ve always had a thousand people that have participated. Last year, we had 1,500, so the participation has increased,” American Red Cross Executive Director Beth Kilchenman said. “Today might be a record because of the beautiful weather.”
The event started with the popular race, the 5K run. The top three placers were from Medina, with Michael Simmons, 23, leading all finishers with a time of 15:40.1.
Simmons, a former cross country and track runner at Ohio Northern, won the 5K and finished second in the 10K in his first year participating at the Twin Sizzler.
“(The Twin Sizzler’s) fun. I might call it ‘quaint’ because of, you know, you’re on the square,” Simmons said. “You’ve kinda got the crowd behind you, around the corner, just cheering for you even though they don’t know you. It’s a really fun event.”
Medina’s Dylan Dombi (15:58.8) and Ken Kutcel (16:15.5) finished behind Simmons in second and third. The top female finisher was Stephanie Charnigo, 25, a Buckeye High graduate.
Charnigo ran her 5K in 16:40.6 in a homecoming event for her, as she competes professionally for the New Jersey*New York Track Club. The former University of Findlay All-American runner recently competed in the USA Outdoor Championships 1500m event, where she finished eighth.
“This is the first time I’ve been home since March, so I don’t get to come home much,” Charnigo said. “When I do get to come home, I just get that nostalgic feeling heading up into it. It’s like a homecoming to me. You get to see familiar faces. We have perfect weather. It’s a welcome back to my hometown, which is special to me.”
The 27-mile bike races were separated into Citizen and Expert categories. Todd Howman of Wooster finished in first of the Expert race in 1:02:49.8 and Medina’s Andrew Clarke was second in 1:04:22.1.
Loreto Agdinaoay of Lakewood was the top placer in the Citizen race with a 1:09:51.7 time, while Hinckley Township’s Gregory Halter finished in a close second with a 1:09:51.9 result.
Brent Martin, a 29-year-old from Wooster, ended the Medina sweep of the top awards in the running events with a first-place finish in the 10K race. Martin, who was running it with his dad, Mike, ran his 10K in 32:50.8, with the second place finisher, Simmons, finishing nearly three minutes behind him.
Medina’s Patrick Fisher completed his 10K in third behind Martin and Simmons, and the first female to cross the finish line was Heather Ross, a 16-year-old from Macedonia, who ran her 10K in 41.46.8.
“(Winning the event’s) fun. And then you get to relax the rest of the day,” Martin said. “Eat hot dogs, hamburgers, maybe go fishing. Take it easy. It’s a good day, and it’s a fun day to win, too.”
Contact Matthew Doyle at email@example.com.