Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cleveland Marathon - Course changes

This weekend marks the 31st annual Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon.

My first and only Cleveland Marathon was in 2004 during the first year of the "new" course that stays entirely within the Cleveland city limits. I returned in 2005 as a part of the Second Sole Running Group pace team, running the second half of the 3:30 group. I've missed the Cleveland marathon weekend for the past two years because the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 mile falls on the same weekend. I am torn between the two events because the MMT 100 is an incredible event and I'll miss the training opportunity in the scenic Shenandoah region of Virginia. Peterman is attempting again this year and I will miss the rocky trails of Massanutten. Good luck, Dave, and the rest of the MMT'ers.

According to the Cleveland marathon website, the map shows a few changes to this year's course. I'm not sure if the marathon organizers made a course announcement. Since some of the course changes are significant, I have added my observations below:

Mile 1: The very first course change is early on and I hope this does not startle the unaware veterans. The races starts (and finishes) at the same downtown location near the Galleria Mall on St. Clair Ave near East 13th. In the first half mile and before the very first turn, the course heads east for a couple extra blocks before turning north on East 23rd and returning to the previous marathon route along Lakeside Ave. Previously, the course turned on E17 or E18 (I am unsure.) This change adds about 0.6 miles to the course at the start. The mile one marker will be in an unfamiliar spot.

Mile 2: The course routes to the north and around Cleveland Browns Stadium, rather than south of the stadium.

Miles 7-12 are completely different from last year, but familiar to the "old" Bay Village course prior to 2004. Instead of returning to downtown on the shoreway, at mile 7 the runners continue on Lake Ave. to Detroit Ave. From there, the course shoots east along Detroit Ave for the next 5 miles -- from W75th and crossing into downtown over the Detroit-Superior Bridge. This way is similar to the "old" Cleveland Marathon when the course was an out-and-back to Bay Village. This year, runners will miss the route through Ohio City, West Side Market, Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, Jacobs Field, and Playhouse Square. Once downtown, this year's course intersects Public Square and follows Superior until East 30th and returns to last year's route, heading east on Chester in the middle of the 13th mile.

Miles 13-21 are similar to last year, heading east and through University Circle, MLK drive and Rockefeller Park, and to the shore of Lake Erie.

Parts of miles 21-24 differ than in the past. In the 21st mile near E55th Street, the course follows North Marginal Road instead of the usual South Marginal. Runners will follow the long westward stretch on North Marginal past Burke Lakefront Airport, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Browns Stadium before scaling the dreaded "hill" in the 24th mile. From here, the course returns to the normal loop of Warehouse district and downtown Cleveland in the final two miles of the race.

The 26th mile differs only because the course heads east for a few additional blocks, finally turning off Lakeside Ave at E20th Street. Runners who are unaware will not enjoy the the additional eastward heading mileage. A usual criticism of the Cleveland marathon course is the winding final two miles around downtown. The change to the 26th mile is sure to bring out more grumbling from runners.

Per the map, those are the changes to this year's Cleveland Marathon course. I hope no one is surprised on race day. Good luck Cleveland Marathoners!


Blogger cr said...

Good luck this weekend at Cleveland Lloyd. As you remember, I ran that one in 2005(2:57). You met me around mile 10 on the bike. I really like that race. Maybe one day I'll get back there. This weekend however, I'll be tromping over the trails at the Berryman Trail 50M outside of St. Louis. Wish me luck! I'll need it. -craig

7:42 AM  

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