As promised, here are my thoughts about the new 2014 Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon course! Those of you running the full marathon and the 10K will find parts of this helpful as the three races share various parts of the course.

All three races start at the intersection of Superior Avenue and West Third Street. We’ll head east on Superior through Public Square and downtown Cleveland. This part of the course is nice and flat, so be sure to line up in your proper area along with runners of similar speeds so that you can get into a nice race pace and run your first mile with confidence.

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Public Square in Cleveland!(Source)

Once you reach East 18th Street and the end of Mile 1, we’ll make a right and head south towards Carnegie. You’ll see Cleveland State University on your left on this part of the course. There’s a very slight incline along this part of the course, but nothing too threatening.

We’ll make a right on Carnegie and proceed back towards downtown. Progressive Field will appear on your right around Mile 2. This section of the court is relatively flat. Be sure to run well on this section of the course, because the next section of the course consists of the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.

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Visitors, if you hear a lifelong Clevelander refer to Progressive Field as Jacobs Field during race weekend, don’t fault us…old habits die hard! (Source)

The Lorain-Carnegie Bridge (which is also called the Hope Memorial Bridge) is beautiful and offers spectacular views of downtown Cleveland and the Cuyahoga River, but we’ll want to run intelligently here. Over half of the bridge consists of a slight incline and the wind tends to be strong here on windy days. As you plan your race strategy, you’ll want to be sure to factor in a few extra seconds for this part of the course.

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I think one of these guys needs to be holding a running shoe! (Source)

Mile 3 ends near the end of the bridge—at which point the 10K folks will keep going westward on Lorain Avenue—and the next part of the course takes you through Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. Longtime readers of this blog know that I have a soft spot in my heart for this neighborhood because Sheila and I lived here for three-and-a-half years and my life changed for the better in many significant ways during that time. You’ll have a soft spot in your heart for Tremont after the race because this area is very flat and contains great crowd support! As you run through Tremont, you’ll see many great places—such as The South Side and Tremont Tap House—at which you can celebrate after the race is over. My friends and co-workers from Scranton Road Ministries CDC will be staffing the Mile 4 water stop.

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Tremont’s ready for us!

When we make a right onto West 25th Street, we’ll be heading up another small incline and towards Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. Shortly thereafter, we’ll make a left onto Lorain Avenue at Mile 5 and run for quite awhile. Touch Supper Club—one of the most unique and delicious restaurants in Cleveland—will be on the right. You’ll pass St. Ignatius High School—my alma mater—on the right as well.

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Go Wildcats! (Source)

Shortly before Mile 6, we’ll make a right onto West 45th and head north. This is another very flat part of the course. We’ll make a left on Franklin Avenue and run for another long, straight, and flat stretch that features some beautiful Victorian homes. When we reach West 74th, we’ll make a right and head towards Detroit Avenue. (Fun fact: In December 2012, Sheila and I almost bought the Victorian home located at the intersection of West 74th and Franklin. At the time, I didn’t know that the house was located on the course.)

After running on West 74th for a very short time, we’ll make a left on Detroit Avenue. To your right will be Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. If you like hot dogs, be sure to check out Happy Dog after the race! We’ll run on Detroit until we reach Lake Road, and we’ll continue on Lake. This part of the course contains a significant downhill portion that begins around Mile 8, so be sure to use this time to allow gravity to do its work and to save up some strength for the final 5.1 miles!

We’ll run down Lake until we reach West Boulevard, and we will now be entering some of the new sections that have been added to this year’s half marathon course. Make a left on West Boulevard and run on another flat expanse until you reach Baltic Road. We’ll make a right on Baltic and run through some residential neighborhoods and through yet another flat expanse until we reach West 106th Street. Make a right on West 106th and head north towards Clifton. We’ll see some construction when you reach Clifton, but I don’t think it’ll interfere with the race. After we make a right on Clifton, we’ll run until we reach West 104th. (For those of you who are not from Cleveland, please note that the numbers in streets with numbered names grow larger as you go farther from downtown. You may want to use this to mentally pace yourself when running down Franklin too.) We’ll run on West 104th for awhile and make a right onto Lake Road to begin our trek back towards downtown Cleveland and the finish line! Marathon runners will make a left onto Lake Road. Needless to say, be sure to turn in the proper direction!

Lake Road will take you directly onto the Shoreway. When we enter the Shoreway, we’ll run through a small downward-sloping section before heading onto the final stretch. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t run this section, but I did drive it earlier today. The first part of the Shoreway is relatively flat, and we’ll want to run strong here because a gradual, steady, and small incline will appear shortly after we we see a big water tower that says “City of Cleveland” on it on our right. This is the point in the course at which the 10K runners will rejoin the half marathon and marathon runners.

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Drink up! (Source)

I know some folks may not be thrilled to see inclines at this point in the race, but I honestly don’t think that they’re anything worse than the inclines on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge at this point in the race last year. If you did it last year, you’ll be able to do it again this year because the weather is supposed to be cooler this year and the temperatures were heating up when many of us were running on the bridge last year. The view is spectacular during this section of the race, and I’d urge all of us to maintain a positive attitude and focus on the fact that we’re almost done with the race at this point!

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When you run across this section of the bridge, you will be less than a mile from the finish line. Leave it all out on the course, run with no regrets, and get ready to celebrate a race well run! (Source)

Once we hit the West Lakeside exit, we’ll run down the exit ramp and straight down Lakeside until we cross the finish line and receive our medals!

Please note that all of my comments about elevation are my own personal thoughts. If you want precise details about the elevation, please check out the Half Marathon Course Elevation Chart issued by the folks at the Cleveland Marathon.

Additionally, if you would like a visual perspective of the entire marathon course, please click here to check out the great video put out by the Cleveland Marathon folks. This video is particularly awesome because you can follow along on the map while watching. You can also watch it below:

Regardless of whether you’re an out-of-towner who is new to running on the shores of Lake Erie or a seasoned Cleveland runner who is looking for another runner’s perspective on streets of the great city that we call home, I hope that you find this helpful! If you have questions about something that I haven’t addressed on the half marathon course, please ask it in the comments.

The weather on Sunday is projected to be around 60 degrees, which sounds like perfect conditions for PRs for all of us. I’ll see you at the starting line!