By Barrett Neale
|The Baltimore Marathon might not be as prominent as the Boston, New York or Chicago marathons, but Lee Corrigan sees it as the top of the second tier of U.S. races.(Marathonfoto)|
A lot has changed since then. Corrigan, president of Corrigan Sports Enterprises, expects 22,000 people to participate in the 10th annual Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival Oct. 16.
| Video: Inside PressBox, Oct. 10, 2010
Watch Lee Corrigan on "Inside PressBox" with Stan "The Fan" Charles
• More Video •
The marathon was near capacity by early September and the half-marathon and team relay were sold out, plus numerous racers already registered for the 5K and Kids Fun Run. Corrigan attributed much of the festival's growth and success to Under Armour, which became the headlining sponsor in 2003.
"They were and have been smoking hot for the last 10 years so that helps add a lot of cachet to our event and sex appeal," Corrigan said.
Dave Brond, a 10-year participant in the festival, said "having a premier sponsor like Under Armour be part of it is just icing on the cake for all of us who wear Under Armour gear."
Corrigan said the Baltimore Marathon might not be as prominent as the Boston, New York or Chicago marathons -- which began in 1897, 1970 and 1977, respectively -- but it is at the top of the second tier of U.S. races.
"For us to do what we've done in 10 years has been incredible," he said. "We basically leapfrogged a lot of cities that had marathons, a lot of bigger cities than Baltimore."
The festival has a strengthened online presence this year, using Facebook and Twitter accounts in addition to its Web site to interact with runners. Corrigan said getting feedback from participants was a priority for Corrigan Sports Enterprises, which sends out an annual survey at the conclusion of the running festival.
"Every year we've been able to make positive adjustments which make our participants really feel like they're being heard and their opinion matters," Corrigan said. "I think that earned us a lot of credibility over the years."
Brond, vice president for communications and marketing at the University of Delaware, praised Corrigan Sports Enterprises' marketing efforts. He said the staff listened to runners and fans and made the necessary changes.
Brond is head of a group of 98 runners, known as the MoVeRs (Most Valuable Runners) Club, who have participated in all 10 years of the Baltimore Running Festival. Among those runners, 35 have run the full marathon each year.
Each will receive an Under Armour fleece and a 10-year club membership. Their names will be published in the official program and they get their own VIP tent at the finish line.
"Most of us would run this race anyway," Brond said. "But to be honest, the fact that Corrigan Sports Enterprises is reaching out and saying 'We really want to thank you for being a loyal runner of this race,' what better way to say thanks."
Sponsors also are commemorating the 10th anniversary with a concert at the Inner Harbor the night before the festival. On the day of the race, there will be 18 bands playing along the course. The marathon will begin at 8 a.m. at Russell and Camden Streets.
Brond said the course was challenging, but exciting for him because it's his hometown race.
"Seeing the city is what it's all about," Brond said. "I wouldn't want to go travel to another city and go run a marathon that doesn't even get you engaged in the city. … The finish line is just really stupendous, running right down past Eutaw Street and by the stadiums."
The first male and female participants to reach the finish line will receive $23,000, and there are additional prizes for each age group, Maryland residents and wheelchair athletes.
"With this event, everybody involved wins," Corrigan said. "It's great for the local economy -- $25 million of economic impact. It's great for the charities -- $500,000 in charity every year. It's great for our corporate sponsors -- they get an unbelievable deal because this ain't the NFL, it's not overpriced.
"The runners get a great value and a great event and also the city of Baltimore gets a great public relations tool. I feel very, very proud at the overall positive success of the event."
Issue 153: September 2010