A look back at the history of the Cleveland Marathon

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The 41st Cleveland Marathon is scheduled for May 20.

Cowbells and cheers will greet runners as the race begins.

The start of the marathon signals more than the start of a race.

The race began in 1978 as an effort to bring a positive and meaningful fitness event to town.

Every year it has grown. More than 350,000 runners have taken up the fitness challenge.

There are as many reasons to run.

One example is Pastor Ken Dockery who ran the race after open heart surgery.

He is proud of his accomplishment showing his medal from 2009.

Along the course there are watch parties.

In 2007 Cleveland Marathon Charities was formed to benefit the community through charitable donations.

Obviously there is a benefit to businesses holding watch parties as well.

Some of the unique stories over the years include a woman who ran while 20 weeks pregnant.

"I think I got a good running partner. I think he or she is gonna be quite the runner one day," Anita Stewart said.

She has been doing the race since her son Brandon was an infant.

He's a grown man now. Firefighters have run the race in full gear just to prove they could do it.

There are a variety of lengths shorter than the marathon and participants are divided into a wheelchair division, one for older runners, and a rapidly expanding kids division.  Some finish walking or even hobbling.  All are winners.

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