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The Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon

By Jim Chaney

Marathon is a word that can mean different things to different 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 27, 2014 the word “marathon” took on a new meaning in Canton, Ohio. That day more than 3,000 people celebrated months of preparation by participating in the Inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon and Half Marathon.

The event actually began in the early spring of 2013 as race organizers, city/township officials, and community leaders met to formulate a plan that would bring a nationally recognized event to Canton. The Pro Football Hall of Fame, led by Dave Motts, Bill Allen, and Kevin Shiplett, helped shape the logistics and branding for the event. Monthly project meetings, course reviews, neighborhood notifications, safety plans, sponsorship drives, and runner recruitment soon followed. Second Sole stepped up and led groups of runners through course preview runs. Compass Media, ESPN Cleveland, WHBC, and the Canton Repository quickly spread the word.

Before we knew it, race day was upon us with runners from 39 states and 6 countries arriving in Canton. Participants enjoyed race weekend as they toured our Race Expo which was held inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame, allowing for a tour of that famous facility. The YMCA of Central Stark County facilitated an NFL/College-style combined activity in Fawcett Stadium which was geared towards family participation and fitness.

On race day, 7:00 am arrived sooner than most wanted. The weather was great and before you knew it, the runners were off! Starting at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, runners went through downtown Canton, along Stadium Park Drive, returning to the Hall of Fame area. Half marathoners proceeded to Fawcett Stadium to finish. Full marathon runners continued west and made their way to Perry High School before turning back east through Perry Township, Canton Township, and Plain Township. All runners were treated to a great finish on the 50 yard line on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium. A commemorative finisher medal and a special fleece blanket to keep them warm were provided to all runners at the finish line.

The year 2015 will bring two new events in addition to the Marathon and Half Marathon. Race weekend will begin on Friday, April 24, 2015, with our Race Expo which will be held in the Canton City Schools Memorial Field House. A new 5K race will kick off on Saturday morning, followed by the continuation of the Race Expo. Sunday brings the Marathon, Half Marathon, and NEW Five Person Team Relay event. The team relay provides an opportunity for runners of all abilities to participate in the marathon distance. Relay legs are comprised of five sections measuring 10K (6.2 miles), 5K (3.1 miles), 5K (3.1 miles), 12.2K (7.8 miles) and a final 10K (6.2 miles). Each relay team member will receive a special finisher medal as their last relay member completes the race.

The number of runners for the 2015 race is expected to exceed 7,500 for all events. Special effort will be focused on encouraging the community to come out and cheer the runners on as they pass through different neighborhoods. Volunteer opportunities will also be available throughout the course. The 2015 race will truly be a community celebration.

To the residents of the Canton/Stark County area, the word “Marathon” now means a running event that represents a successful relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, community leaders, sponsors, businesses, runners, and residents. For more information or to sign up early, visit our website at See you in April 2015.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon

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