Cleveland, Ohio – The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon & 10K has always been a front-runner. Well before other marathons began staging multiple events on race weekend, Cleveland always staged both a world-class 10K and marathon on the same day. Now to accommodate the growing number of people looking to get into the sport, organizers have added a 5K and a Kid’s Run on Saturday, while a half-marathon is also included on Sunday’s schedule along with the marathon and 10K. In all over 22,000 people will wind through the streets of Cleveland in the 36th anniversary of the city’s signature racing weekend.
From the beginning the Cleveland racing weekend has been sponsored by a drug store chain. It’s been a good fit. For the first 20 years the race was sponsored by home-grown, family-owned Revco Drug Stores. Then in 1998 Revco sold out to CVS Drugs out of Woonsocket, Rhode Island before CVS then turned the chain over to Rite Aid, which has been the title sponsor since 2003.
Through 34 of the event’s 36 years Jack Staph has headed the operation, first because he was an avid runner himself (he’s done seven marathons), but also because from 1972 to 1997 he served as senior vice president, secretary and general counsel for Revco, D.S., Inc. When Revco sold its chain of stores to CVS in 1998, Jack stayed on as race director before buying the event outright in 2001, the last year CVS was the sponsor. In 2003 Jack signed Rite Aid as title sponsor, and the relationships is now in its 11th year. As other events have come and gone, Jack and his Cleveland events continue to thrive. In 2010 Staph was named to the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame for meritorious service to the sports community. He is currently in his second year as a member of the Running USA Board of Directors. And since 1989 Jack’s son Ralph has helped his dad work on the marathon, and is now the event race director.
Besides the full range of running events, what else makes Cleveland’s race weekend unique is its expo at the International Exposition Center. While all the normal running-related booths are on hand, there is also a series of health stations which plays right into the health and wellness focus of Rite Aid. Here at the expo runners can check their blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI), blood glucose level, cholesterol, while also screening for allergies. The world-renown Cleveland Clinic is also at the expo ready to assist with general sports health and wellness information. Seems sore knees is the number one issue on the minds of runners during day one at the expo.Throughout its history Cleveland has hosted many of the world’s best runners, and been witness to some eye-popping performances, topped by Joseph Kimani’s 27:20 10K world record in 1996. New Zealand native Anne Audain is back again this year as a presenter. In the 1980s and early `90s she won the 10K a record seven times and remains the event record holder 1t 31:45, though a new course is now being run.
This weekend Abraham Kogo of Kenya and Mary Akor of the USA look to defend their marathon titles while Julius Koskei and Everlyne Lagat, again of Kenya, defend their 10K wins from 2012. Tonight the AL Central Division leading Cleveland Indians open a four-game series against the visiting Seattle Mariners at Progressive Field. As ever, mid-May in Cleveland promises to be one of the highlight sports weekends of the year. And so far the weather is cooperating. Fingers crossed. Go Tribe!