Watching someone run a marathon is hard work - considering all that eyeball moving and cheering from your perch in a portable lawn chair.
To be honest, few people give marathon spectators enough credit. They turn out early in the morning to follow and cheer-on their runner who is likely undertaking one of the most significant moments of their lives. It can be a deeply personal experience for not just the runner, but also their supporters.
For anyone looking to wake up bright and early to cheer on runners, we've compiled a few travel tips for your Union Home Mortgage Cleveland Marathon experience.
So your runner needs to carb-load the night before the big race and it's likely that you'll be tagging along. We'd recommend checking out Cleveland's historic and delicious Little Italy neighborhood. The 0.2-mile stretch (an easier haul than 26.2) along Mayfield Road offers some of the best restaurants for pasta, breads and sweets in the land. Although every eatery offers mouthwatering meals, you can never go wrong with the 50 year old Lasagna recipe from Guarino's—and hitting up Presti's Bakery after for a piping hot donut or decadent dessert.
It's A Sign: Where to Watch
One of the best things about the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon is the fact that there are so many accessible spots to cheer on your runner. According to marathoner David Hansen: "I have run a few marathons, and I always appreciate people showing up to cheer. After all, you are a part of it. You're making a contribution to the event!" Stephanie's Itibrout agrees. "I love the signs and the cheering. I feel, as a slower marathoner, that I struggle more than many runners. Crowd support keeps me going," she said. And, the best part is, unlike your runner, you will still have all your toenails when it's over.
Click here to see all the locations in several Cleveland neighborhoods where these unique "cheer parties" will be taking place along the racers' route.
Spectator Fuel: Coffee Spots
Need a caffeine jolt or a quick bite between runner sightings? Dart in and out of these local digs situated near the route for a little java to keep you going. If you're hanging in Tremont, Civilization offers some of the best coffee drinks around, prepared with TLC. In Detroit-Shoreway, Astoria Café & Market has an abundance of tasty brunch options to go along with your java—or, if you're just in the mood for a grab-and-go boost, Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. makes it easy to carry out a cup. If you're in Ohio City, a crepe and an espresso at the French bistro Le Petit Triangle Café always hits the (sweet) spot. And Lakewood offers an abundance of coffee shops, with an outpost of Rising Star Coffee Roasters never steering you wrong.
We've got you covered on even more coffee spots here.
So your runner just finished a marathon—congrats! First things first, hit the afterparty. Head to Mall B (at St. Clair and W. Mall Drive) for the 26.3 Mile After Party presented by Truly Hard Seltzer and Fat Head’s Brewery. Expect live music and, of course, beer. The event starts serving brews as early as 8 a.m. Better yet, it's free and open to the public.
Depending on where you watched the festivities, there are also plenty of hotspots along the way for a post-race toast. In Detroit Shoreway, Irish pub The Harp always has perfectly poured Guinness waiting for you at the bar. Near downtown, the spacious Masthead Brewing Company offers plenty of their signature brews and room to relax. And on the Flats East Bank, Collision Bend Brewery not only offers amazing views of the Cuyahoga River—it serves up their own curated list of artisanal beers.
And the boozing doesn't stop there, check out some more of our favs here.
No Medal? No Prob.
Looking for that perfect memento that says you're proud of The Land? Check out these unique, locally owned shops for one-of-a-kind Cleveland apparel for those of us who skipped out on running the 26.2-mile haul, but still feel like we deserve a treat. The downtown outpost of CLE Clothing Co. and We Bleed Ohio (located in the historic 5th Street Arcades) offer a little something for everyone to show off their state (and city) spirit.
For More Marathon Info
Need more information or have questions? Visit www.clevelandmarathon.com for the complete schedule and details about race weekend.