While this year was better, it's clear Cleveland doesn't hold a candle to Pittsburgh despite the fact the city is bigger, has a higher population, and has a generally flatter terrain. The biggest issue? Cleveland doesn't know what makes a marathon worth running. The whole point of a race like this is that you can see the entire city. I don't know the exact count, but Pittsburgh runs through dozens of neighborhoods over it's 26.2 course. Cleveland's course, while beginning with a nice turn through the downtown area, quickly veers into some generic residential streets at Mile 4...and stays that way until Mile 23. In fact, Mile 11-22 is a single "down and back" in which runners zip down an endless five and a half mile suburban street with no turns, hills, scenery, or interest. The final three miles of the race were possibly the worse ending miles I've seen in any race as runner went uphill on an empty highway only to be dumped down into civilization with a quarter mile left to go. Take a look at the sad picture below. I think they really missed the point of the run. It's never been about the run. It's about the people.
Being from Pittsburgh, it's fun to make fun of Cleveland...but this is real. The downtown area looks great, and I'll have to pay it a visit sometime when my feet don't hurt. Otherwise, if you ever have the urge to run 26.2 miles...stay in your own city. The only rocks which define Cleveland are the proverbial ones that should be hoisted at it's marathon event.
And so ends Marathon X. I've now run 10 marathons in the past 5 years, and 8 in the past 18 months. While I'll never say "never", I think this one will be it for a while. I need sometime to forget...so I can become just nostalgic enough to try again.