Craig Leon crossing finish line at Eugene Marathon
May 7, 2010
Running long distances comes naturally to Ohio University Athletics Director of Compliance Craig Leon.
The former Bobcat cross country and track and field standout and two-time OHIO graduate with Olympic aspirations won the Eugene Marathon in Oregon on May 2. The Van Wert, Ohio, native defeated more than 2,300 runners with a time of 2:23.15.
The victory was a mild surprise since it was Leon's first full marathon and the field included Zachary Freudenburg, a qualifier for the 2008 U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials. Leon beat the St. Louis native by 89 seconds and put his name on the list of marathon runners to watch.
"I think many people were surprised when I crossed the finish line first because Zachary was the leader most of the race until I passed him with less than five miles to go," Leon said.
Leon, who earned his master's degree in athletic administration in 2009, decided to run in the Eugene Marathon last fall after OHIO alumni and Eugene residents, Robert and Ali Wayner, told him about the race. The Wayners were Leon's track and field teammates at OHIO and compete in marathons.
"I did a summer internship in Eugene in 2008 at the U.S. Track and Field Olympics trials, so I saw this as a chance to both visit my friends and run in the marathon," Leon said. "My goal is to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, which will take place in January 2012. I will need to run under 2:20.00 in a full marathon to qualify."
Winning road races is not a new thing for Leon. He is the two-time defending champion of the Athens Half Marathon and was the top American in the Columbus Half Marathon in the fall. In 2007, he represented the Bobcats in the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Leon said his next marathon will be in October at either the Chicago Marathon or the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota, which will serve as the 2010 U.S. Marathon Championships.
Leon, the son of OHIO alumni Bob and Marilyn Leon, said he received his first-place trophy but hasn't yet received his full allotment of prizes. Still on its way are his prize money, wine from King Estate Winery and a year's supply of pancakes.
"I'm not sure how they will give me the pancakes – maybe they will send me the batter in the mail," Leon laughed. "If not, then I'll have to give them to Robert and Ali."