This week in May is one of my favorites. The warm weather has turned for good (usually), all the trees are in their full greenery, and my allergies aren’t full blown yet.
Beyond that, it is the week of runners.
Saturday and Sunday, thousands of runners will take to the streets in four distances for Cleveland Marathon weekend. Starting at
Cleveland Browns Stadium FirstEnergy Stadium, from Edgewater to MLK and points in between, they will get a roadside view of the city. And big-city marathons are a good way, a different way, to experience a place.
While Cleveland is not one of the top-tier marathons (see Chicago, New York, Boston), it has become a good draw and can continue to grow to become a well-regarded event. Between Cleveland and Akron’s Roadrunner Marathon, plus the Towpath Marathon and countless smaller races, Northeast Ohio is a great place for runners. Even if November through February are a little dicey.
And we have a great running community. For me, that’s an important aspect in a city. Some cities have the reputation for being “runner cities”. Chicago is a runner city. New York is a runner city. Boulder, Colorado is a runner city. Cleveland has the makings of a runner city.
Foremost, we have great places for running in the Metroparks and Cuyahoga Valley. Miles upon miles of paths and trails away from most cars. Some of the paths are marked for easy mile tracking. And, key for anyone taking on a longer distance race, there are long, long, long stretches on which to do a 10, 12, 15, 20+ mile training run.
Forming the community part of our running community is the number of running groups in the area. Some official and nationally affiliated, others as basic as friends getting together for runs. Or if you’re into something a little different, there is Cleveland’s Hash House Harriers. The groups cater to most abilities and ranges. Through these groups, new friendships can be formed in the common love of running. Runners tend to be very accepting and friendly.
As a result of the number of runners we have, we have a number of quality running stores providing the goods runners need. The stores also act as a center for the running community, organizing group runs and races. Near the Cuyahoga Valley there are the Vertical Runner stores. Active Runner, the relative newcomer, has been active in and around Strongsville. And just to add some confusion, there is Second Sole in Rocky River unassociated with the Second Sole chain, which has several stores around NEO and Ohio in general.
So yeah, runners have it pretty made here in our little chunk of the state. Random fact…in the past five years, teams from NEO have won the Ohio High School cross country championships 18 times out of a possible 30.
Good luck to all runners this weekend!