By Frank Oroszlan
The history of the Baltimore Running Festival has been short but successful.
In 2001, the festival's inaugural year, 4,837 runners cruised the streets of downtown Baltimore to compete in the city's marathon. Five years later, organizers estimate that a combined 11,000 athletes will participate in the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival's five events: the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon, the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half Marathon, the United Way 5K, the Legg Mason Team Relay and the Kids' Fun Run.
At 8 a.m. on Oct. 14, marathon participants will line up at M&T Bank Stadium to embark on a 26.2-mile race through the Baltimore area, hitting some of the city's most scenic sites, such as Fort McHenry, Fells Point, the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill.
Last year, more than 3,000 runners participated in the Baltimore Marathon.
(Photo Courtesy of Corrigan Sports Enterprises)
While this year's course is similar to last year's, organizers have made several changes to provide better race conditions. Runners will avoid Hillen Road, which had hills that made the course strenuous, and they will take an alternate route to Fort McHenry in an effort to ease traffic congestion.
Runners in the half marathon will start at the 13-mile mark of the marathon but will break off to follow a different course after the first 2/10 mile. The half-marathon route will later merge with the main marathon course and all runners will finish at M&T Bank Stadium.
In the six years of the running festival's existence, the marathon's course has been changed six times by Corrigan Sports Enterprises (CSE), which manages the Baltimore Running Festival.
Course changes aren't the only modifications CSE has made to the Baltimore Running Festival since its inception. Last year, the weather was hot and humid with temperatures in the 80s and inadequate water supplies outraged participants. Previously, runners and city residents complained about insufficient food provisions and sub-par traffic control.
CSE has imposed field limits for each race, thereby cutting down the time and manpower needed to run the races. Also, several more Gatorade, water and fruit and snack stations have also been added along the course.
The New York Marathon started off similarly. In 1970, 127 runners entered in the first NYC Marathon. The course consisted of several laps around Central Park and only 55 runners finished the race. Over time, the race has grown tremendously in popularity and has been embraced by runners and the New York City community. Today, while only 40,000 make the cut, nearly 90,000 runners sign up to participate in the world's premiere marathon.
While Baltimore is far from ranking alongside a marathon behemoth like NYC, organizers' efforts are quickly turning the Baltimore Marathon into a popular event in the running world. This year, 25 countries are expected to be represented in the day's races and with a $100,000 purse, some of the world's elite runners will be out to stake their claim for first place.
The Under Armour Baltimore Marathon: This year's marathon will begin and end at M&T Bank Stadium. The race will start at 8 a.m. and will pass through Federal Hill, Fells Point, the Inner Harbor, Fort McHenry and other parts of downtown Baltimore. Several elite runners will participate in this year's event, including Mykola Antonenko, who won last year's marathon with a time of 2:15:40. The prize for the men's top finisher and the women's top finisher is $15,000 each.
The CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half Marathon: The half marathon will begin at the 13-mile mark of the marathon at 9:45 a.m. but will run a slightly different route.
The Legg Mason Team Relay: The team relay will consist of teams of four with each member assigned to run a specific section of the marathon course. The first runner will begin at 8 a.m. at M&T Bank Stadium alongside the marathon runners.
The United Way 5K: The 5K run will begin at 8:30 a.m. next to M&T Bank Stadium at Camden and Russell. The race will end at the main finish line at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Kids' Fun Run presented by Fig Newtons: The Kids' Fun Run will be split into two different groups, ages 7 and under and 8-12.
Issue 1.25: October 12, 2006