Rite Aid announces 32nd annual marathon


CLEVELAND The starting gun will fire this Sunday for the 32nd Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K, which will feature a new official course for the 2009 race.

The new course guides runners past downtown Cleveland landmarks and through historic neighborhoods, however, its key feature is a runner-friendly 9-mile stretch along and near the Lake Erie shoreline with prevailing winds at runners' backs.

After the 2008 race, officials surveyed runners on all aspects of the event, focusing especially on the course. Running with the wind along Lake Erie was the most frequent runners' request. The race hired a professional course planner in June 2008 and has been working to fulfill survey recommendations for the new course since.

The new course starts in front of the Galleria Mall downtown, and sends all three races immediately towards Lake Erie and past the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. The half marathon and full marathon pass all three professional sports stadiums before heading west to run through Ohio City. From about mile 7 to mile 12 for the half marathon, and mile 7 to mile 16 for the full marathon, participants run west to east, with prevailing winds at their backs near the Lake Erie shoreline.

Marathoners also spend almost four miles on the east side, running through Rockefeller Park and passing other Cleveland landmarks before returning to the downtown finish via St. Clair and the newly revitalized Euclid Corridor.

The 10K will start and finish with the full and half marathons, but take a flat, fast 6.2 mile trip out North Marginal along the lake and back South Marginal to the finish line.

All three races also feature a new finish line area - another runner request - at Lakeside and East 6th street between Malls B and C with a close view of the lake and the Cleveland Browns stadium.

“With more than 100% increase in runners over the past six years, we outgrew our old start and finish line areas,” stated Ralph Staph, race director of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. “The new start and finish lines provide us with much more open space for runner services, the finish line rock party, and the uniting of runners and their families and friends,” he said.

“We started out with a dream course and coordinated and negotiated with the city of Cleveland and other interested parties to produce the best courses for our runners with the least amount of interruptions within the city,” Staph added. “So far, we've been receiving very good feedback from runners familiar with the Cleveland area. There are still a few key parts of the city that we hope to run through next year, but I believe that runners will be very pleased with the new courses in terms of meeting their survey requests.”

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