Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon History
The Cleveland Marathon began in 1978 in an effort to bring a positive and meaningful fitness event to the City of Cleveland. The original course began at Cleveland State University and traveled west to Bay Village and back. Some of the race's most tremendous growth has occurred under the Rite Aid Pharmacy sponsorship since 2003, in which time race participation has grown 300 percent.
Some notable facts about the race are as follows:
- First to offer finishing runners large cash prizes. $150,000 total for the 10K and Marathon winners (male & female) was the first cash prize in 1988.
- First to invite elite runners from the Soviet Union to the marathon during the Cold War.
- First to incorporate a 10K race into the marathon events in 1978.
- World record (former) in the 10K for a male, 27:20, was set in 1996 by Joseph Kimani of Kenya.
- One of the 50 oldest marathons in the country.
- The half marathon event was added in 2005 for runners or walkers.
- Cleveland Marathon changed its course for the first time, in order to view many of the scenic aspects of the city, in 2004 for its 27th race.
- Three people have won the Cleveland Marathon three times each.
- Men: Pablo Vigil (1980, 1981, 1988) - Best time of 2:15:19
- Men: Demetrio Cabanillas (1983, 1984, 1985) – Best time of 2:16:13
- Women: Lyubov Klochko (1992, 1993, 1994) – Best time of 2:34:37
- Cleveland Marathon Charities, a 501 (c) 3, was created by the marathon in 2007 to coordinate and organize local charitable organizations’ participation in the event and reward them financially. $40,000 was distributed that year alone.
- Reno Starnoni, a Cleveland running legend, was the first race director. He designed the first course.
- The "We Run This City" Youth Marathon Program was launched in 2006 as a collaboration between the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, the Cleveland Department of Public Health and the Case Western Reserve University Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. The program has grown from 81 kids in the first year to over 700 participants in 2012.
- Rite Aid Cleveland 5K held its first race in 2009.
- The marathon passes notable and historic landmarks such as: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, Ohio City, West Side Market, Tremont, Playhouse Square Theater District, the Lake Erie shoreway, University Circle, Rockefeller Park, Great Lakes Science Center and more.
- Purpose of starting the race was to promote an environment of fitness and wellness and to add something positive to a city that was at rock-bottom in 1978.
- Executive Director, Jack Staph, has been involved in the race since the first year. His son, Ralph, now serves as the Race Director.