Photo provided by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon
THIS EVENT WAS CANCELED DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS.
Later this month, thousands of runners will descend on Canton streets.
The seventh annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon is set for April 24 through 26. While the highlight of the weekend is the 13.1-mile half marathon and 26.2-mile marathon, the event offers something for everyone, from ultra athletes to kids to couch potatoes.
“I think what we’re proudest of is that it’s really become a community event,” said President David Beck, one of the co-founders of the race. “It’s what we’ve always hoped for and wanted.”
The weekend starts with a Health & Fitness Expo at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. The expo, which runs Friday and Saturday, is where runners will pick up packets and other items for upcoming races. It also will have a variety of vendors offering products and information.
Saturday morning kicks off with the Draft Day 5k.
“That’s a great beginning entry event,” said Executive Director Jim Chaney.
The untimed race is perfect for runners and walkers who want to participate without worrying about their speed, he said.
Also on Saturday is a free kids mini (1 mile) marathon. That night, there is a screening of the documentary “Like Harvey Like Son” at the Palace Theatre in conjunction with the Canton Film Festival.
The main event begins bright and early Sunday morning with marathoners, half-marathoners and relay team members starting the race in front of the Hall of Fame.
The course is roughly the same as last year. One new addition is a contemplative Survivor’s Stretch around mile 10, which will honor those who’ve survived cancer and memorialize those who have passed away, Chaney said.
The race raises funds for the Timken Family Cancer Center at Aultman Hospital.
Racers will finish inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. A band will be playing at the finish line, and runners can bask in their accomplishment on the field with snacks and refreshments, including hard seltzer, Chaney said.
This year, the marathon brought back its iconic ring medals, which look like a giant Super Bowl champion ring.
“People love the ring,” Beck said.
Runners also get a fleece blanket and other swag.
Organizers are planning for 7,000 to 8,000 people, more than double last year’s runners, to participate in marathon weekend, many of them traveling from out of the area.
The event is only going to get bigger, Chaney said, adding that next year, he anticipates 10,000 runners.
If you’re not the running type, there are still ways you can take part.
“I tell people to run, cheer or volunteer,” Chaney said.
The marathon needs volunteers for both the expo and race events. And everyone is encouraged to find a spot along the marathon route and encourage runners with signs and cheers.
“Come out and support those who’ve trained all year long to check something off their bucket list,” he said.
For more on the marathon, including how to register, see hofmarathon.com.