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Nearly 8,000 runners will race through Cleveland this weekend in a city tradition that began in 1978.

The Union Home Mortgage Cleveland Marathon, a three-day event, extends beyond the 26.2-mile course. It attracts novice runners and those like 85-year-old Jim Mackert, who has run in more than 40 races since the event began.

Last year, the race was pushed back to October because of the pandemic. In 2020, it was virtual. This year, runners are returning to Cleveland.

University Hospitals will host a health and fitness expo Friday. The 5K and 10K races are Saturday. Half and full marathons will be Sunday.

The races will start and finish at Memorial Plaza in the shadow of the Fountain of Eternal Life statue on Public Square. The course will pass landmarks such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center.

The runners who have registered are from nine countries and 47 states. They feature beginners and veterans like Mackert.

At 85, he runs five to eight miles a day.

“My wife and I raised six children, and when I got to be around 37, I was gaining weight, and I just didn’t like the way I felt, and I started back running again,” Mackert, a former paint store manager, said. “I felt so good, so I kept running, and I haven’t stopped since.”

The return of the spring marathon has Mackert and others excited. He has been running the race since it began in 1978.

He grew up in Lakewood, the youngest of 10 children who weren’t regular workers.

“Nobody in my family was really into sports because we were usually working,” Mackert said.

A teacher spotted him in gym class and recruited him to run cross country and track at Lakewood High School. He ran as a member of the U.S. Army at Fort Riley, Kansas.

He later met his wife and raised his family. But he had left running behind, until he decided to pick it up again.

He later joined local running clubs, like the Cleveland West Road Runners Club, one of the region’s oldest clubs. He also became the president of a running club in Lorain County.

Even during the pandemic, Mackert never stopped running and even virtually completed the last two marathons.

“I felt that if I continued to exercise that it was the best way to that I could fight off getting sick,” he said.

Mackert’s advice to beginning runners? Good shoes and realistic goals.

“What happens is that you hurt yourself trying to do more than you’re capable of,” he said. “Set a realistic goal, and you’ll be happy. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t reach that goal.”

(05/18/2022) Views: 134 ‚ö°AMP
by Alexis Oatman
Cleveland Marathon

Cleveland Marathon

The Cleveland Marathon features a relatively flat and fast course, great volunteer support and a scenic view of downtown Cleveland and its major landmarks. The course has been designed for our athletes to enjoy views of Browns Stadium, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Lake Erie and many other Cleveland highlights. The Cleveland Marathon began in 1978 in an...


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