This spring I choose to run the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton, Ohio. Relatively new, this race was in its 3rd year. The race had a few thousand people participating in the 5k, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay, and Marathon events.
I showed up late Saturday afternoon - the last day of the expo - around 4:30pm. The expo ended that day around 6pm so the whole thing was pretty empty. It took place on Don Scott Field and the packet pick up was quick and easy. They had well designed, official race gear but nothing that I liked that was left in my size. Considering how late I showed up this was not surprising to me. I ended up settling for a blanket and a tech shirt from previous years. They rang up to a grand total of $5. I also picked up a throw sweatshirt for race morning at a charity tent for $2! The sweatshirt worked well with my original throw shirt on race morning, as temperatures were cooler than expected.
After the expo I went to check into the hotel. I stayed at a Comfort Inn in an area where there were multiple hotels all located very close together at the top of a hill. When I was leaving to go out to dinner I overheard 2 men trying to get a room for the night. The lady at the front desk told them they were sold out due to the marathon. Apparently, the men had already been to at least one other hotel. The town isn't very big so reserving hotel rooms early was a good idea for this race.
The race offered shuttle services but I opted for preferred parking instead. I paid $25 extra to park right next to Don Scott Field. While it's always fun to talk to other people on the shuttle rides after races, I was pretty glad to just hop in the car after my marathon. I also would prefer to sleep in as much as possible, so I could sleep in a little longer that morning. The race started at 7 am and I got up at 5am, I probably would have gotten up at least a half hour earlier if I was planning to take the shuttle. There wasn't much traffic race day morning so parking was a breeze.
The race started right outside the field. Inside the field there was the finish arch, tents, and porta potties. There were tons of bathrooms available which for some reason surprised me. I think this is an area that is common for race directors to skimp on if they're trying to cut costs. There were long lines but they seemed to move quickly. I found 2 porta potties tucked away that may or may not have been placed there for the marathon. There was no line so I snuck in. Shortly before the race started I noticed that these porta potties now had a huge line, so clearly I wasn't the only one to find them.
Then I headed over to find my pace group. They had pacers for 5-10 minute intervals which I was not expecting since the race was a smaller one.
The marathon and marathon relay course started at Don Scott Field and then went through downtown Canton. My tour guide (pacer) pointed out cool things that I would have no idea what they were if he wasn't there. We passed the National First Ladies' Library, the PFHOF headquarters (How many races do you know that have a true headquarter office?!), a famous Tudor house, the art museum, and a cemetery which was the initial resting place of resident McKinley until his memorial was built in Washington DC. We went through some residential areas and a large park before heading back near the start where the half marathoners turned to finish. From here we headed west in the other direction to get the final 13 in. We snaked through residential areas and had a long straight away to the turnaround at mile ~19-20. The whole way out was a gradual downhill so at the point of the turn around you had a gradual uphill to the finish. The second half of the course was changed from previous years so it felt like there were more spectators by changing the course to an out and back. There were a good amount of locals standing out spectating and cheering outside of their homes. It still felt a little lonely though with so few marathon runners in the race compared to the half. The relay exchange points really helped during the second half with everyone cheering. There were water stops every 2 miles for the first half and at least every mile during the second half. I went with the 3:45 group and stayed with them until mile 21 when I blew up. I felt like I was going to puke but never could. I think I would have felt better. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. I think it might have been dehydration but I was drinking throughout the race. I felt like I couldn't even keep Gatorade down anymore so I switched to water. My dad eventually caught up with me and decided to finish with me even though I told him not to. (I would have preferred to be alone in my misery and disappointment.) He kept asking me if I wanted to stop and sit down for a while but I told him I just wanted to keep moving. I was pissed at how awful I felt even though my legs felt pretty ok for the point I was at in the marathon. Such is life. I just tried to remind myself that running long distance keeps you humble. Even when it feels like training went 100% right that doesn't mean race day is going to be your day and that's ok. Just keep your head up and start looking for a new marathon to sign up for.
I started feeling only slightly better around mile 25 or maybe I just wanted to be done. We picked up the pace into the finish. You entered the field and went around the track where the finish line was. I always like finishing on tracks because it encourages me to pick up the pace one last time. The marathon medals were HUGE. My dad said it was the biggest medal he's ever gotten and while I haven't checked I'm pretty sure it's my largest as well. Then you picked up your fleece finisher blanket which I had been excited for since I initially signed up for the race. I got water and some cottage cheese thing with fruit in it. I tried to eat some of that but my stomach wasn't in the mood. Overall finish area was crowded with plenty to do.
This might be one of my favorite race shirts. There were some complaints about sizing but I thought it was true to size. The older shirt I got at the expo is wider though. They'll probably have to add in an exchange tents for shirts in the future.
On the race facebook page you can find plenty of complaints. I saw one person complaining that her relay team didn't get a finishers photo. Another complaining that results weren't uploaded same day. This is a small town race. It's also a newer marathon. This was cheaper that other spring marathons I looked at so I'm not sure why people expected to get every perk under the sun. Every extra peck adds an extra cost to your registration, especially when there aren't as many runners to spread the cost between. This is a very well run marathon that I'm sure will only improve with time. I had an awful race and still enjoyed every aspect of the race. While I understand that people pay money to participate in races, everything won't always be your way. And seriously, have some patience, especially with newer races that are still figuring it all out and growing participant counts to fund major changes and improvements. One of my favorite things in the Trail and Ultra Running community is that whenever someone writes a post complaining about something that isn't a big deal everyone jumps in suggesting that they go for a run to relax. If you still have energy at the end of a race day to complain about how 100% of your needs were not catered to you either didn't run far enough or didn't try hard enough. Also there are so many individuals with larger issues than you not getting your finisher photo. Be thankful for everything that went right and that you are even physically able to participate in such an event. End rant.
2017 Legends 5k Race Report
2017 Pro Football HoF Marathon Race report
Race Start and Finish Photo from PFHOFM website