The Akron Marathon covers 26.2 miles.
The average spectator has two feet.
What’s a fan to do?
Here are some tips for enjoying Saturday’s race from the sidelines.
The National Weather Service is hinting at rain on Saturday. Good thing Akronites don’t melt.
If you’re going to be moving around the course, take umbrellas and rain ponchos.
If you’re sticking to a park or sidewalk, take a pop-up canopy if you have or can borrow one. You can even invite other spectators to your tent and make a party of it.
Of course, it’s still early for a really accurate forecast, so judge the day before you leave home.
Forecasters predict a high of 61 on Saturday, but it could be chillier when you head out, so dress in layers.
You can watch the runners pass four times without you breaking a sweat.
At the starting line on South Broadway, enjoy the opening ceremonies near the National Inventors Hall of Fame School or from the sidewalk lining the road all the way to the All-America Bridge.
Once the runners leave at 7 a.m., take a leisurely stroll one block west to High Street. Any place on High Street will do. Within 10 minutes, the runners will have looped the bridge and will return via this route, taking High all the way until it merges with Main Street.
About 7:45 a.m., the lead runners will have completed the southern loop of the course and return to the starting line to begin the northern loop. You return as well. Take up your original position, or try a new spot anywhere along South Broadway or adjoining University Avenue. There will be action here till about 10 a.m.
For your fourth look at the runners, mosey west again, two blocks this time, to Main Street or head to the finish line at Canal Park. The leaders should be turning onto Main from West Market Street before 9 a.m. as they race for the stadium. The procession of runners will continue down Main past noon.
Canal Park and parking
Admission to the stadium on Main Street is free. There will be live music on the main stage, concessions and live coverage of the entire race course on the field’s big screen.
The runners will enter through the center-field wall and cross the finish line before rounding the bases for various activities, including picking up their medals and getting pictures taken.
Given past performances, organizers expect runners to pour into the stadium between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Some parking lots and metered spaces downtown will be inaccessible at times, so leave early and keep your cool if it takes awhile to find a spot.
If you don’t have the energy for downtown, there are other key spectator hangouts along the course. Due to road closures, arrive early and don’t expect to be able to hop into your car and travel between them.
• Firestone Park, Mile 7.
Bring a lawn chair or blanket. The runners loop the shield-shaped park so you can watch them coming down the south side of the boulevard and returning on the north side. Park at the Firestone Park Recreation Center. Hours: 7:30 to 9 a.m.
• Akron-Peninsula Road and North Portage Path, Mile 15.
Park at any of the area retail stores and get a glimpse of the runners as they exit the Towpath Trail by the Indian statue and head south on North Portage Road. Hours: 8 to 10:30 a.m.
• West Market Street and Revere Road, Mile 19.
Runners will be making their way along West Market Street past Fairlawn Country Club. Parking is available at Howard Hanna Real Estate, 2603 W. Market St. Hours: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
• Firestone High School, Mile 21.
Fans get a great view of the field as runners come down Fairfax to Castle, then onto Garman Road. Look for parking on residential streets. Hours: 8:40 a.m. to noon.
• Portage Country Club, Mile 23.
Find street parking near here and cheer runners on in this cozy neighborhood setting. Hours: 8:40 a.m. to noon.
• Highland Square, Mile 24.
Watch from the sidewalks of this mile-long straightaway or patronize one of the coffee shops and cafes. Hours: 8:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Fans who want the most action will head toward downtown, while families looking for a place to settle in might take their lawn chairs to Firestone Park.
But if you really want to make a difference to a struggling runner, put on your tennis shoes and hike into Sand Run Metro Park.
Although it’s arguably the prettiest section of the course, runners say the 2-mile-long rise in the road coming so late in the race makes it the most grueling leg.
At the same time, there are few fans here to lift their spirits.
Because roads in this area will be closed, you’ll need to approach the park from the west (east of Summit Mall) and look for street parking. Enter the Towpath at Sand Run Parkway and Revere Road and look for a spot where the trail is close to the road, especially between Revere Road and the ford.
Runners should start coming through about 8 a.m.
Portable toilets will be at both ends of the park.
Cheer them on!
This ain’t no library.
Runners are used to running alone, so events where there are screaming fans is a real treat for most of them.
Clap, shout, ring a cowbell or bang thunder sticks.
Make and hold up signs of encouragement.
Shout things like “Keep smiling!” “You’re looking awesome!” “You can do it!” “Keep it up!” and “Stay relaxed!”
• Respect the course. It’s OK to cross it if no one is coming, but stick to the curb or sidewalk so you don’t narrow the street for runners.
• Don’t run around town in your car trying to chase the pack. Traveling downtown and between locations on the course will be difficult due to numerous road closures as well as shuttles moving relay runners.
• Help your runner pick you out of the crowd by painting a sign or banner and wearing brightly colored clothing. Know your favorite’s bib number.
• Track your favorite marathon or half-marathon runner by visiting www.akronmarathon.org and signing up under the link “Runner Tracking Now Available.” You’ll get a progress notice via phone, email, Facebook or Twitter four times for half-marathoners and six times for marathoners.
• Dress appropriately. If you’re going to be stuck in one location for a while, make sure you’ve got a sweater if it’s cool, sunglasses and sunscreen if it’s sunny and extra socks if it’s raining.
• If you’re a resource to a runner, make sure you’ve practiced how to hand off a favorite snack or beverage or receive items from your runner as they shed extra clothing. Make plans where to meet your runner after the race; pick an area or seating section at Canal Park.
Coming tomorrow: Some of the top runners in the race and how to spot them.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.