‘The Burner’ Challenges the Physically Fit to Benefit ACH

HUBBARD, Ohio – The Marucci family was busy setting up obstacles Monday morning as they prepared for the fourth Burner at Big Game Raceway on Elmwood Drive Extension.

It begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The Burner is a seven-mile course of mud with more than 40 obstacles that participants must overcome. It is not for the faint of heart or out of shape.

New this year is the monolift, a 15-foot wall that runners, using nothing more than a rope, must scale one side and rappel down the other end.

Other obstacles are rope ladders, trenches and a 200-foot Slip ‘N’ Slide called “The Oil Slick.” All that’s missing is a stopwatch.

“Its all about finishing, not about how [fast] you finish,” says a promoter and organizer, Jim Marucci. “It’s about accomplishing something that not too many people want to do.”

Marucci, his wife, Becky, and their daughter, Dana, came up with the idea, to honor the memory of Jim and Becky’s son (and Dana’s brother), Jimmy, who died in September 2012 at age 29 of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“This is the kind of thing Jimmy liked,” his father said Monday with a smile. “If there was a hard way of doing something, that’s the way he would choose to do it. I just wish I could be doing it with him.”

All proceeds from The Burner go to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. The three earlier Burners revenues raised nearly $6,000, all going to Akron Children’s. The largest single gift from the Burner happened last year when the Maruccis gave $2,000 in to the hospital.

“They’re local and they help local people,” Jim Marucci explained. “Sometimes you give to these big organizations and all of our local people get overlooked and I didn’t want to see that happen.”

All registrations at this time are $100 and will be accepted through the start of the event Saturday.

Regardless, the entrance fee provides the entrant with a headband, dog tags, T-shirt. Afterward the fee pays for the beer the Maruccis provide those who complete the course.

Marucci owns an embroidery company, Afterburner FX, 3600 Schotten Road SE. Afterburner FX will add $500 in addition to the fees paid by the team with the most members.

Employees from Afterburner FX, including Ben Grant, were on hand yesterday to help the Maruccis set up the course and they took turns trying out many of the obstacles. This is Grant’s first year working on The Burner seven-mile course.

“We are out here making sure everything is doable,” Grant said, “Nothing is going to be easy and there should definitely be some challenges out there for everybody.”

Of all the obstacles he faced, Grant’s favorite is a wall about 15 feet high that starts as a ramp and becomes vertical half way up. To navigate it, participants must run up the ramp, then leap to grab the top and pull themselves up. Marucci adds a water hazard to the wall to make it more difficult.

Another challenge is running through the 5-foot wide moat before the warped wall.

“It will be a lot harder to get up with wet shoes and a lot of people will need some help up.” Grant noted. “It will be a time when you will get to see people help each other and help out.”

Dana Marucci, who solicited sponsorships for The Burner, said it’s “exactly the way my brother would want to be remembered.

“Everybody in the community has been so supportive and I really can’t say enough about how much it means to me and my family to see such encouragement from our sponsors,” she said, “The best part is that we get to do it together to keep him [Jimmy] alive.”

Added Grant, “It’s a great benefit. Especially Akron Children’s — I take my kids there. It just couldn’t be for a better cause.”

Pictured: Jim and Becky Marucci, with their daughter Dana, organize  the event in honor of their son, Jimmy, who died at age 29 from lymphoma.

Watch Dustin Livesay’s video coverage of the Maruccis setting up The Burner on Tuesday’s DailyBUZZ.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.