Cleveland Marathon purposefully avoids churches when deciding route

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It takes months to get the route for the Cleveland Marathon set, approved and permitted every year.

It's a process that starts at the end of June or early July the year before, and isn't completed until a couple weeks before the starter's gun goes off.

According to Jack Staph, executive director of the marathon, they often try to change the route and they don't do it to make the course any less or more challenging.

Staph notes no matter what the route is, "There's always a hill people complain about."

"We take a survey every year to find out what they like and don't like," Staph said.

They start with what runners say they want to pass by on their 26.2-mile run, and most commonly, they ask to run by landmarks like Quicken Loans Arena, FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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One of the other major considerations you may not think about is they try their best to keep the route away from churches.

With the race run on Sundays, they don't want to keep anyone from getting to their services.

The permit process through the city seems to take the longest.

At the time of this article, 24 days before the race, the city has yet to issue the permit, but Staph says this is normal and they deal with it every year.

Why does the 26.2-mile course length have to be so exact?

After they design the course, which often has to change because of construction from year-to-year, the difficult part is making sure the course is exactly 26.2 miles.

"Some people have asked us: 'Why did you make us run 400 yards in one direction only to make us come back,'" Joan Freese, the Communication Director said.

The answer most often is that's what it took to come out to the exact marathon distance.

Because the Cleveland Marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, the route must be officially measured in the weeks leading up to the race.

It's done at night, in a car with a police escort, to make sure it's official.

For this years complete route click HERE

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