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Five Things the Canton Marathon Got Right

The 2012 Canton Marathon got a lot of things right, from this runner's point of view.

The Canton Marathon was just my second full 26.2-mile run, but I've been taking part in races for close to 10 years now (I'm a late-blooming runner), and I was really pleased with what I saw in this year's inaugural run.

  • Parking and shuttle buses: Having run in Akron's relays and dealt with the inconvenient parking there for several years, the free Stark County fairgrounds parking and shuttle bus service ran incredibly smoothly, at least from my there-and-back experience. I know late arrivals meant the race was delayed 20 minutes, but I found that a small inconvenience when compared with not having to worry about where we were going to park or walking a half-mile to get there.
  • Starting point: Grouping the runners by time in corrals near the stadium and the Pro Football HOF before having everyone march down to the actual starting line in the park struck me as a good move. Much easier to get everyone organized up there where there's more space and more restroom access.
  • The course: I know, I know - the hills. They were, to put it mildly, a challenge. And I muttered NSFW curses under my breath on more than one occasion. But I loved the opening stretch through downtown's parks and streets, and the northward trek on Market as the sun came up, and the crossover through North Canton where family and friends got to see me and my brother pass for the first time on Sunday. Running over the Hall of Fame Bridge was a cool experience, and all along the way, the spectators and residents made the run unforgettable. And finishing in Fawcett Stadium, hearing our names echo over the field while people cheered? Worth every blood-blistering mile.
  • The medals: I'd seen the pictures and loved the design, but I was completely unprepared for how big and heavy these things are. Very impressive.
  • Food and drink: An abundance of water and aid stations was a huge and important benefit, and though I saw reports that one aid station ran out of water, every place I grabbed a drink (which was at most of the stations) was staffed by friendly and efficient volunteers. Post-race, everybody expects water and bananas, but the sliced apples really hit the spot. And the cookies. And the potato chips. And the peanut butter, beef jerky and beer. And, yes, the bananas, too. Beats the dry bagel I've gotten at the close of some races.

I know Akron's got the bigger marathon, but if the Canton organizers continue with the things they're doing right, work on the things that need improving, and keep playing up the ties to the Pro Football HOF, Stark County's event has the potential to give its neighbor to the north a run for its money.

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Nicole Salle June 20, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I agree totally! This was my first half marathon and growing up in Canton/ North Canton it wa important to me to run in this race. It was a fantastic experience- from beginning to end! Great Job CM 2012!
Tamie Eynon June 20, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Also agree!! As tough as the course was for me, I thought it was a great experience. The support from spectators and aid stations was wonderful. Canton really rolled out the red carpet on this one!!
Philip E Min June 20, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Great job, Canton! You delivered far more than I expected for an inaugural event. It was well worth the drive from Birmingham.
John Booth June 20, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I'm curious to hear the perspective on the course from someone who has run the full marathon at both Akron and Canton. Akron has a real reputation for being a hilly challenge, but having run 3 of its 5 relay legs, I think most of Akron's climbing is really concentrated in one or two spots, whereas Canton presents a series of difficult climbs, especially over the second half. (That's where I really struggled - I was actually on a PR pace through 13.1.) I wouldn't change the course though, because I think it really has a unique Canton/Stark County "feel" to it that sets it apart from others in the region.
Heather Piatt June 20, 2012 at 08:48 PM
This is a second post regarding the delays on race day. This is for Mr. Tim Black from Ashland, Ohio. At about 1015a at least 40 cars on the south side of whipple, on the side where wendys is those two lanes were at a stand still for at least 20-25 min, there were three cops in the road, there was a time span of at least 5 min that there no runners, and we still sat there. We knew the route, but going around the route would have taken longer and still had to cross the path of the marathon, so to say "non-runners" will always find it an inconvenience rather than positive for their community. we should stop going to church on sunday so it would be convenient for you to run hold up traffic for "non runners" to get to there daily sunday activities and jobs. Tim I am not a runner, I do not appreciate you putting words in my mouth saying that we who had to sit there and watch the cops let fulton drivers turn onto whipple and we sat there for more than 20-25 min is just unbelievable. I am training for a 5k in August but there will be no delays for anyone. I know all the runners will agree with You Tim Black, but I think it's great what it did for the community putting money in the the pockets of the small businesses and people from all over came to this marathon, that's great. I have no quams about the runners or the marathon it self, its how the traffic was not handled smoothly as it should have. I am just like all of you who want to express my thoughts and opinions.
John Booth June 20, 2012 at 08:49 PM
That's really cool to hear, Philip!
Jon Kellicker June 20, 2012 at 09:24 PM
The Canton Inaugural event was my first Half Marathon and I think the committee did a great job, especially for the first year! My other race experiences are the 2011 North Canton 5-mile and 2-mile and the 2011 Akron Marathon relay. Here's a few constructive criticisms I think can be improved on next year. 1. The Canton Marathon web Site listed the fairground-to-stadium shuttle service was going to run from 4:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. It did not. My 70-year-old parents, as well as a friend with two young children and two pregnant women had to WALK to the stadium in order to watch the finish line. Luckily the weather was cooler than the forecast, but either the shuttle should have run as stated, or ensure the information given to the public is accurate. 2. LACK of swag for the runner in the goodie-bag. It was mostly coupons and fliers. It was disappointing. 3. The after-race party area (and sponsor tents) were TOO far from the stadium. If it wasn't for the two free beers, I wouldn't have gone. The HOF parking lot and tent (RIGHT next to the HOF) were empty. If these were utilized, some of us might have visited the sponsor tents. Again, overall the event was a great success! Besides the above points, I thought everything else was GREAT! Please take the above points and apply them to next years event! Jon Kellicker North Canton, OH
John Booth June 20, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Jon - I'll agree with you that it seemed odd to have the beer and some sponsor tents across the HOF parking lot - not sure what the reasoning was for that. As for the swag, I've never really gotten much out of any race's goodie bag, but I was very pleased with the race shirt. Glad to see Canton opted for the short-sleeved tech shirts which seem to be getting much more traction than the long-sleeved T-shirts which were the norm for so long. Really liked the design on the front, too.
Raymond Reno June 21, 2012 at 01:36 PM
We've now run both the Canton Marathon and the Akron Marathon. I will say that I believe the Canton course was much more demanding on the runners. As if the 7 mile start from the lowest to highest point on the course wasn't enough, the last 10 miles was certainly a challenge. It was a beautiful course and was great running the streets we've driven for so many years. I did start to feel badly for the drivers as I approached the Belden area around 9:30. I'm not sure what more could have been done because if you were coming into Belden from the Canton area, your only other option was I-77. Maybe if the race can start on time in the following years, the traffic problem might not be so bad. Great event, awesome job for the first year and we look forward to many more to come!
John Booth June 21, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Thanks for the Akron/Canton course insight, Raymond. And while I have seen a few complaints about road closures and traffic flow, I haven't read or heard anything that convinces me there were travel inconveniences of any greater or lesser magnitude than should have been expected. I also forgot to note that another thing I really liked about this marathon was the decision to start it at 6 a.m. as opposed to a more typical 7 a.m. start time. Even with the 20-minute delay this year, we still got in close to a good hour of running before the sun was high enough in the sky to be a factor - and then the clouds moved in. :)
Raymond Reno June 21, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I would have to agree that the few complaints won't justify a major change. Someone is going to complain about everything. The was more than enough notice of the closure on the Rep and area radio stations.

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