With every major city hosting a marathon at some point during the year, it’s tough to narrow down the options.

For Canadians, the spring marathon season begins to ramp up in May with early-month races including the Mississauga Marathon, Toronto Marathon and the BMO Vancouver Marathon. There are options south of the border, too. One in particular is within reasonable driving range for Southern Ontarians and an intriguing destination race at the end of May.

The 41st annual Cleveland Marathon is slated for May 20. Here are a few reasons to consider if you’re interesting in doing a race that has a good tradition and atmosphere in an emerging city.


Cleveland may not have the big-city allure like Chicago, Boston or New York City but Ohio’s largest metro area on the shores of Lake Erie is quite convenient for southern Ontario runners. Cleveland is less than a five-hour drive from Toronto and London, Ont. and a three-hour drive from Windsor, Ont. Direct flights are offered from Toronto and Detroit with flight duration an hour or less.

Field size

Cleveland is a medium-sized marathon with 1,531 finishers in 2017. The mid-tier field can benefit runners as there’s enough people at various paces to run with for extended periods of time without the chaos and traffic of big-city races with 5,000-plus finishers.


Because of the timing of the race in mid-May, weather is often quite conducive to marathons (though a bit on the warm side if anything). The average low has historically been 10 C with a daytime average high of 18 C. All events begin at 7 a.m. local time.

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The city

For destination races, entertaining activities in the city are a must. For Cleveland-goers, runners can look forward to such attractions as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra. Plus, Cleveland has a team in three of North America’s major sports leagues though the relevant ones for May are the Cavaliers (NBA) and Indians (MLB).

The course

It’s no secret that runners only have a handful of chances each year (or every few years) to race quality marathons. Cleveland has a PB-friendly (though you may hear the term ‘PR’ – personal record – used in the United States) course which is relatively flat – the race climbs 93 m – and offers scenic kilometres along the waterfront of Lake Erie.

The marathon begins at Quicken Loans Arena, the home of the Cavaliers.

Post-race party

At the finish line of the marathon, half-marathon and 10K, the race has an after party known as the 26.3 mile (42.3K) Rock Party where live entertainment, food vendors and a beer garden are located.

A distance for everyone

A marathon is not for every runner. Fortunately, Cleveland offers about every major race distance including a half-marathon, 10K, 8K, 5K and one-mile. Plus, there’s a kids race if the trip turns into a family weekend.

On-course atmosphere

As the route runs through the downtown core, combined with the fact that Cleveland is home to more than 350,000 people, expect there to be plenty of on-course support from locals.