Race to CLE for these events
By Adam Sockel
Greater Cleveland has long had a thriving running community, being blessed not only with a runnable city and neighborhood streets, but also acres of scenic trails and paths through the beautiful Metroparks and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Any runner will tell you that half the fun of running is signing up for races, and Cleveland has no shortage of options at any distance for runners of all skill levels. Whether you're training for your first-ever 5K or you're working to qualify for the Boston Marathon, Cleveland has a race for that.
Here are some of the races we're most excited for in 2017. What'd we miss? Comment below with your favorite Cleveland race to add to the list.Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon
Speaking of which… over the course of 40 years, more than 350,000 runners from around the world have participated in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, which offers full and half marathon options as well as a 10K, 8K and 5K race. For runners looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon, Cleveland offers a great opportunity as this citywide course is mostly flat. For runners looking to discover Cleveland for the first time, you'll get wonderful views of everything from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, West Side Market, Playhouse Square, Rockefeller Park and much more.
Run for the Pierogies
The pierogi has long been a staple of the Eastern European communities of Cleveland. There are countless places to get these delightful potato-filled dumplings, but few places do it better than the Little Polish Diner in Parma, which sponsors the Run for the Pierogies each summer. At the end of most races you're greeted with a banana, a bagel and some water, but as you cross the finish line in this run you're handed fresh pierogies as you bask in the glorious sounds of polka music. Proceeds go towards local community schools as well as The American Cancer Society and All Faiths Pantry.
2017 Buckeye Trail 50K
For the serious trail runner--seriously. Test your limits in this 50K race along the famed Buckeye Trail through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With 2,500 feet of elevation gain and 2,500 feet of elevation loss, you'll get an awesome view of nature as you scale hills, cross streams and bridges, and dodge trees and wildlife.
Inside the Park Home Run
One of the coolest races available in Cleveland for baseball-lovers is the Inside the Park Home Run, where runners get the opportunity to run through Progressive Field and finish right at home plate. This fun run lets you see parts of the Indians' stadium rarely made available to the public. The entire run is actually four miles as you run a 5K around Downtown Cleveland, receive your split time and then finish the last mile in the stadium itself. Registrants can get discounted tickets to an Indians game and children 7 and under even have their own "dash" around the warning track. Proceeds go toward the Cleveland Furniture Bank, which provides beds for children in need around the Cleveland community.
HofBrauhaus Half Marathon, 10K and 5K
Some people endure running for the party afterwards (we don't judge)--and few places throw a better after-party than Hofbrauhaus. This Bavarian-themed run starts and ends at the German-style beer hall just behind Playhouse Square as you run through the streets of Cleveland alongside fellow racers in their finest lederhosen. At the end finish line, you'll receive a custom finishers medal and a free 12-ounce beer (21 and over) and a bratwurst. Stick around for the live music as runners will party well after the race has ended. This year, for the first time, you have the opportunity to run 13.1 in addition to the 10K and 5K options.
Rock Hall Half Marathon and Relay
With Cleveland as home to the one and only Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, of course there has to be a race that celebrates all things rock. With 5K, 10K, half marathon and half marathon relay options, you've totally got this. Start at the Rock Hall and race around Downtown Cleveland--the birthplace of rock 'n' roll--to the tune of live bands. Your post-race activities include a party with entertainment from The School of Rock and free (half marathon runners) or discounted (5K and 10K runners) admission to the Rock Hall itself. Plus the finisher medals are pretty sweet.
River Run Half Marathon
Get a taste of why the Cleveland Metroparks earned a 2016 National Gold Medal Award when you run this USATF-certified half marathon. Featuring a downhill course through the Metroparks, this race routinely creates personal best times for runners of all competitive levels. The unique and scenic run is both smooth and flat as well as a rare "one-way" course offering a full 13.1 miles of sights and sounds. You'll be shuttled back to where you parked after the run.
The autumnal sister of the Towpath Half Marathon, this full version also features a 10K and half marathon option. Run through one of the best kept secrets of Northeast Ohio: our insanely beautiful fall foliage in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Run through mile after mile of gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows as nature surrounds your entire route. Runner's World has called this Boston qualifier "one of the most beautiful marathons on the fall racing calendar."
Cleveland Turkey Trot
Thanksgiving Day races have massively grown in popularity as we all try to combat the inevitable heaping piles of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, and few host a bigger (or better) trot than Cleveland. Each year, more than 10,000 runners join this family-friendly race dressed as turkeys, pilgrims and even the early Santa Clause or two. You'll run through Downtown Cleveland, burning calories as you prep for the feast to come. If you're visiting family in Cleveland for the holiday or you want to discover one of the best Turkey Trots in the country, this is the race for you.
A Christmas Story Run 5K and 10K
Don your pink bunny suit and chase after your "major award" (a finisher's medal) during this race honoring the classic movie A Christmas Story. Start at the former Higbees Department Store where Ralphie visited Santa, and end at A Christmas Story House and Museum, the actual house that was filmed as home to the Parker family. The distance is approximately 5K from one to the other, so the full race distance may be a bit shorter or longer to accommodate both filming locations. This is definitely a family-friendly fun run with a great route from Public Square downtown through Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood.