MEDINA, Ohio – Less than a week after the sudden death of a runner in the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon, another half marathon in her hometown plans to honor her memory.
Taylor Ceepo, 22, collapsed and died within a half mile of the finish in Cleveland on Sunday.
She was a state-ranked soccer player at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron and was a scholarship athlete also playing soccer at Walsh University in North Canton, from where she graduated in April.
Those who knew her describe Ceepo’s death as unexpected and heartbreaking.
For directors of other races, the news was equally as devastating.
“There’s something about the running industry, that just the community themself. They just pull together. I’ve never seen so many people cheer perfect strangers on,” said Ed Sutter, the director of the Four Leaf Clover Run in Akron scheduled in two weeks.
Ceepo had run each of Sutter’s previous runs and, although he never knew her personally, said he feels it is appropriate to do something in her memory.
“Taylor has run my race and so there’s a close tie. I feel a commitment, any time somebody supports my mission it’s appropriate. We will definitely be doing something in two weeks,” Sutter said.
For the race in Medina, which starts in just a few days, there is less time for planning, but race director Beth Bugner also feels it is important to do something in Ceepo’s memory.
“The first thing is it’s not supposed to happen this way. She was doing what she loves and she’s 22 years old, healthy. She just graduated from college. It’s not at all what anyone would ever ever imagine,” Bugner said.
“As a group, we decided we are going to make little ribbons for all the runners in her school colors, both St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and Walsh, for the runners to wear just as a reminder of who we run for on Saturday,” Bugner said.
Organizers may also have a moment of silence, as Bugner explained, to keep everyone who is there centered.
Organizers of the Medina race also understand that many of the more than 1,200 participants who are expected Saturday morning actually knew Ceepo personally or were in some way acquainted with her.
“We want her family and her friends and everyone who loved her to know that Medina will run for her this Saturday,” Bugner said.
A cause of death for Ceepo has not yet been determined.
Many of the runners said they were affected by the heat on Sunday.
For Saturday’s race, Bugner said safety will, as always, be a priority with aid stations every mile and a half, and medical teams stationed at the finish and at the half way point.
Although summer-like temperatures are forecast for the day of the race, a start time of 6:45 a.m. will help make certain many of the runners are finished before the heat of the day and the forecast cloud cover could make the conditions more tolerable.
Bugner is encouraging all of their runners to hydrate well during the week in advance of Saturday’s start.
“There’s got to be a message out there sent that running is a good thing, you know. There’s no reason to get scared of running because of what happened this past weekend,” Sutter said.