By Dean Smith
As summer comes to an end in the city, the streets and sidewalks begin to fill with runners training for the Baltimore Running Festival. They're running up and down Charles Street and circling Lake Montebello in preparation for the 13th Annual Baltimore Marathon, which will take place Oct. 12. The marathon and its companion races have gained in popularity throughout the years, and the 2012 race attracted 27,000 runners from 50 states and 24 countries.
"It's been an unbelievable success story," event organizer Lee Corrigan of Corrigan Sports Enterprises said. "We've gone from 6,300 runners to 26,000, and we're 12 percent ahead of last year at this time. We're rocking the registrations."
The Baltimore Running Festival includes a marathon, a half marathon, a 5K race, a team relay and a fun run for children. The races begin and end at Camden Yards and showcase the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Canton, Federal Hill and several other neighborhoods. The course was designed to create a positive perception of the city, Corrigan said. The races generate $38.6 million in revenue and $1.7 million for charities.
"That makes us popular with the mayor and governor," Corrigan said.
It's also a popular marathon for runners. DailyBurn.com ranked the Baltimore Running Festival sixth out of the top 15 fall marathons. Pete Mulligan, manager at the Falls Road Running Store, has run the Baltimore race nine times, as well as running in other marathons.
"I enjoy Baltimore the most because I live here," Mulligan said. "It was my first race, and I wanted to do it in my hometown."
Runners who live in Baltimore have an advantage, Mulligan said.
"You can practice on the course and get to know it," Mulligan said. "You also get to sleep in your own bed, and there is free parking in Ravens stadium. It's not like [Washington, D.C.,] where you have to battle the traffic."
The course for the race is known as challenging because of the city's rolling hills.
"It's topographically surprising," said Rob Duckwall of Guilford, a returning half marathoner. "The hills sneak up on you in the half as well."
Mulligan referred to mile marker 16 at Patterson Park as gut-check time, because the hills become a factor from that point until the end of the race.
Corrigan said the course was challenging, but fair.
"It used to be 450 feet above bay level," he said. "We changed it to 250."
Corrigan also said he was pleased with the cosmetic changes to the start and finish lines to make them more appealing for television coverage, and he wasn't concerned about Under Armour's absence as title sponsor after a 10-year run.
"Five hundred Under Armour employees will be helping with the event, manning water stops and assisting us," Corrigan said. "They will still be involved as the event's official apparel provider and furnish every participant with the company's high-quality moisture-wicking performance shirt."
There are dozens of sponsors listed on TheBaltimoreMarathon.com, including CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, DSW, Geico, Transamerica, Toyota and Under Armour.
Mulligan encouraged all runners to enjoy themselves.
"You've put in all the work," he said. "It will go by fast. The race is like graduation day. Enjoy it."
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Issue 189: September 2013