By Jim Chaney
Marathon… One word that means so many things to so many people. For some, it is sitting in front of the TV and blocking out a long period of time to watch your favorite show. For others, it may be a painfully long amount of time that seems to take forever. On April 29, 2018 over 10,000 runners will be filling the streets of Canton celebrating the 5th running of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon. The event has come a long way since its inaugural running in 2014 when just over 3,000 people participated. We welcomed runners from 20 states and 3 countries that year. Everyone was impressed with the organization and the opportunity to run in our football-themed race. Over the next few years a number of additions and improvements were made as we continued to grow. The 2017 race saw a major change as the entire course was run inside of the City of Canton. It was also the first year that the event sold out ahead of race weekend.
Planning a marathon is much like training for a marathon. It requires a solid plan, time to review your strategy and make any adjustments needed, and get in the training time needed to maximize race day. The event actually begins almost immediately after the prior year’s event. Meetings with race organizers, city and township officials, and community leaders are held regularly to formulate a plan that brings runners to our nationally recognized event in Canton. The Pro Football Hall of Fame helps shape the logistics and branding for the event. Monthly project meetings, course reviews, neighborhood notifications, safety plans, sponsorship drives, and runner recruitment soon follow. Second Sole steps up and leads groups of runners through course preview runs and group training. Compass Media, ESPN Cleveland, WHBC, and the Canton Repository help spread the word about the event. Before you know it race day is upon us with runners from 48 states and more than 12 countries descending on Canton. Participants can enjoy race weekend activities as they tour our race expo, which will be located at the Stark County Fairgrounds. There will be tours of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the McKinley Monument, and other area destinations. The YMCA of Central Stark County will once again facilitate an NFL/College style combine activity as part of the Health & Fitness Expo, geared towards family and promoting fitness.
The weekend is not just for marathoners! We provide a number of activities and running/walking events that can involve anyone. The marathon is our main stage event at 26.2 miles. We also offer a half marathon (13.1 miles), a five-person team relay where each runner tackles distances between 4 miles and 6.4 miles that collectively adds up to the marathon distance, a Draft Day 5K that has no time limit (run or walk), and a kids’ mini 1.2 mile marathon. Runners in the marathon, half marathon, and team relay will receive a commemorative finisher medal and a special fleece blanket to keep them warm. The other event finishers will receive a finisher medal. For those who do not wish to run or walk, there are plenty of volunteer positions to be filled during the weekend. Visit our website www.hofmarathon.com to explore ways to participate.
As part of our 5th anniversary event we are making a special effort to reach out to the community for race weekend. Participants will be on the streets throughout the city and we really want our residents to come out of their homes and support the runners. Special cheer zones will be established along the route. Homes on the race course will be provided with cowbells, noise makers, and special block party kits to rally the runners along the way. We consider the marathon YOUR parade that wraps through the city for 26.2 miles! The 2018 race will truly be a community celebration.
Marathon… A long-standing running event that represents a successful relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Community Leaders, Sponsors, Businesses, Runners, and Residents. We look forward to seeing YOU in April! For more information about the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon or to register, go to the website www.hofmarathon.com.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon