AKRON - Loading up on carbs at the big Pasty Party the night before Saturday's 11 th Annual Akron Marathon, George Towett described what was going through his mind and the minds of other runners just hours before the big race.
"The day before the race, we're nervous. We're nervous but we have done a lot of training preparing for the race, but I think everybody is prepared for tomorrow," Towett said.
Runners have been preparing to possibly qualify for the Boston Marathon or even the 2016 Olympics if runners finish the half marathon in less than one hour and five seconds. It's quite a feat these athletes train hard for, but Towett said his focus is on winning the marathon and for another reason this time around.
"We have to show them that something like that happening doesn't take you downwards, you have to come up very strong," Towett told NewsChannel5.
The "them" he's referring to: the terrorists responsible for last week's Westgate Mall attack in Towett's home country of Kenya.
"We were so worried about what happened. This is so unfortunate that it happened like that. While we were on this side I was worried like maybe among the family members were involved," he said.
Towett told NewsChannel5 he was in the United States training when the attack unfolded at a busy mall in the city of Nairobi, Kenya. The runner said his family was not in the area, but the continuing worry for his home country hasn't ended.
"It's sad," said Towett. "Everybody is going through a sad moment. But I think we have to focus our minds not to be stopped by other things"
Which is why Towett explains his mind is focused on tomorrow and winning, saying it would not only mean a great deal to he and his family, but to the country of Kenya as well.
Towett came in second place at the Akron Marathon three years ago, finishing the race just one second after his friend and first place winner, Geoffrey Kiprotich.
This year, Towett said his eye is on the prize no matter what.
"People like this, trying to things like this, I think they're trying to discourage us, intimidate us. But we have to do more. We have to show them that something like that happening doesn't take you downwards, you have to come up very strong," he said.
Dave Hunter is the co-announcer of tomorrow's race and a member of Akron Marathon Board of Directors.
"The athletes that we attract to this race, we're fortunate to have many athletes from foreign countries," said Hunter. "Marathoners are rather focused, intrepid group so these athletes have made tremendous sacrifices to not only train but to run this race. I think it would be a wonderful situation given the terrible tragedy in Nairobi and the Westgate Mall incident if one of those runners would rise up and have an A-game performance tomorrow and win."
Towett is said to be once again competing against Kiprotich, who is also of Kenyan decent.