The Baltimore Running Festival - 13 Years of Runner Friendly Growth and Innovation
The Baltimore Running Festival takes place on October 12, 2013 beginning and ending in center city near Camden Yards and M&T Bank (Ravens) Stadium. Join in with Maryland’s largest participatory event and one of the best race weekends anywhere with options for the full marathon, half marathon, marathon relay, 5K and kids’ runs. And experience a terrific Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. Enjoy a quality race in a great city.
Posted Monday, 30 September, 2013
There will be between 26,000 and 27,000 participants in the events of the Baltimore Running Festival, one of the best and most successful race weekends in the country. It takes place in the Charm City, and participants will indeed be charmed by the venues, the course, the convenience, and the city generally.
They have enjoyed tremendous growth and popularity, and the events of the Baltimore Running Festival are exceptionally well organized and orchestrated. Other events could learn a thing or two about event organization from Corrigan Sports Enterprises of nearby Elkridge, Maryland. This proven formula was on display the weekend of March 24, 2013, at Corrigan’s west coast equivalent, the Oakland Running Festival in California. But Baltimore is the original. Combined with their Frederick Running Festival, happening May 4 & 5 in Frederick, Maryland, they offer the unique “Maryland Double”, a special custom medal for completing both events, but more on that later.
The 2012 Baltimore Running Festival produced an economic impact of $38.6 million for the city, and to date over $1.7 million dollars have been raised for regional charities. The 26,100 participants last year represented all 50 states, many Canadian Provinces, and 24 countries. The Baltimore Running Festival enjoys 10 to 15% growth year on year because so many satisfied runners return and new runners get the word that this is a runner-friendly event—an experience and memorable weekend for both locals and visitors. www.thebaltimoremarathon.com. The Baltimore Sun Health and Fitness Expo will run for two days; then all races are run on Saturday, October 12, 2013.
Venues are first class, with starts near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the resurgent Baltimore Orioles. Finish lines and race headquarters are located at M&T Stadium, home of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. And this year their awesome Baltimore Sun Health and Fitness Expo will be held at the beautiful Baltimore Convention Center, www.bccenter.org which is very close to Camden Yards (and to the light rail public transport and MARC trains). The expo is free to the public. The Convention Center is at One West Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.
This is a first class expo, with many, many vendors and exhibits (see the website for lists), and they provide convenient hours too, Thursday and Friday before race day from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m. Of course shirt and packet pick up is available during those hours. (Note, there is no race day registration or packet pick-up.)
The courses run through the streets and neighborhoods of revitalized Baltimore, and along historic sites and the famous Inner Harbor. The events are spectator friendly, easy to get to by way of public transportation or private car.
The five races that make up the running festival are all flourishing, and well organized. So much so that there are caps on each. The anchor event is the now famous and classic Baltimore Marathon. The marathon is expected to sell out at 5,000 runners. The popular CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon will be expanded and capped at 11,000 participants, and runs essentially the second half of the marathon with a co-located finish. The Legg Mason 4-person Team Relay is expected to add another 4,400 happy runners (capped at 1,100 teams), running the same course as the marathon in four legs; the Shop Rite 5K will have 3,700 (capped) and there will be 1,000 in the Transamerica Kids Fun Runs.
The formula that works is a combination of world-class race support, excellent venues, and an organization that knows what it is doing—and plans and executes exceptionally well. This is an organization that has listened to participants over the years and worked to refine the event to make it continuously more runner-friendly and convenient (expo at the Convention Center, for example). Yes, they work to make it right. They clear all the obstacles and create an event where you, the runner, can enjoy an unforgettable time in a welcoming and wonderful host city.
Amenities at the Baltimore Running Festival
First and foremost, the courses are USATF-sanctioned and certified so the Baltimore Marathon is a Boston qualifier. All courses are interesting tours of the city highlighting the neighborhoods, architecture and history that make Baltimore such a dynamic city—and a huge sports town. All races use the Chronotrack B-tag—chip built in to the bib number. There will be ample aid along the course with Gatorade, fruits, snacks, PowerBar and gels and water on the course (15 aid stations on the marathon course).
The “Keep Pace with the Gecko” pace groups will be sponsored once again by GEICO and help you achieve your goal. The finish at the stadium is inspiring, yes, but the stadium headquarters also provides many restrooms for before and after and a convenient bag check as well; start and finish are close to each other too. There will be plenty of free parking for both the Expo and the race, and the stadium provides shelter if needed.
Online registration (recommended) is available for a low fee and insures that you have updates by e-mail as needed and the e-card for packet pickup convenience, and of course for entry confirmation.
The Events in Brief
The signature Baltimore Marathon is capped at 5,000. It is a challenging but scenic and diverse course with several miles near the inner harbor (about miles 9 to 13). There are neighborhoods and parks, including Druid Hill Park (miles 3-4-5) where you actually run through the Baltimore Zoo. There is a turnaround at Tide Point on the inner harbor where the course passes through the Under Armour world headquarters campus. Patterson Park at 16 and Clifton Park (19-20-21) around Lake Montebello are also highlights. At mile 23 the race passes Johns Hopkins University a second time before heading south to Camden yards and the Ravens Stadium finish. There are on-course entertainment and cheer zones for all events. And all race finishers celebrate at the Celebration Village with food and beer, music and fun.
The Legg Mason Marathon Team Relay is a four-person event and covers the exact same course as the marathon with exchange zones at Johns Hopkins, Under Armour campus, and Clifton Park respectively. It is capped this year at 1,100 teams and each member gets a performance shirt and finishers medal.
The CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield Half Marathon essentially runs the second half of the marathon course, and the finish is co-located. There is a separate starting area apart from the marathon course (near inner harbor), and the course is unique until joining the marathoners after spreading out for the first few miles. They join near Patterson Park at around 15 miles of the marathon route before heading north to the northeast section of the city. The same amenities are available to half marathon runners as with marathoners—bag check, performance shirt, B-tag, finishers medal. It is capped at 11,000 and will sell out for sure.
The Shop Rite 5K will have a finisher’s medal this year, and each adult gets a shirt and beer too. Celebration Village is open for all and the 5K folks get to enjoy a lot of it. However, they can only accept 3,700 runners/walkers so don’t delay if that’s your choice. The start and finish are the same location as the marathon. It is essentially a run north then south in a modified out-and-back with very few turns.
There will be 1,000 lucky kids in the Transamerica Kids Fun Runs with two divisions, 7-and-under and 8 to 12 (9:20 and 9:30 a.m. respectively). They organize and get started in the Kids’ Fun Zone, then finish their memorable race at the big marathon finish line.
Corrigan Sports Enterprises has provided a very useful and comprehensive website for this (and all other CSE events). Check it out for all details needed for a convenient and stress free race weekend: Course maps and start locations, public transportation, FAQ’s, Team information, charity running, registration, training programs, pace groups, the Expo and packet pick-up, travel, directions, parking, accommodations, volunteer opportunities, vendor (expo) opportunities, community support groups and cheer zones, results and tracking, sponsors, news, links spectator info, closures, entertainment on the course and at Celebration Village for post race party, chat and newsletters and much more. www.thebaltimoremarathon.com
The Maryland Double
There are several options for innovative challenges that will earn runners that very special and coveted Maryland Double—all in combination with the Frederick Running Festival running May 4th and 5th. Of course you cannot run the double and earn that great medal unless you run at Frederick. Combinations include the following for the additional medals and conversation starter: The Nut Job Challenge at Frederick includes the 5K on Saturday evening, May 4, followed the next day by the CareFirst Frederick Half Marathon on May 5. Or you can run the half marathon at Frederick and combine with the full marathon or half marathon at Baltimore for the famous Maryland Double—here are four possible combinations:
Frederick Half Marathon – Baltimore Half Marathon
Frederick Half Marathon – Baltimore Marathon
Frederick Nut Job Challenge – Baltimore Half Marathon
Frederick Nut Job Challenge – Baltimore Marathon
Experience Baltimore and the Baltimore Running Festival
The Baltimore Running Festival gets a phenomenal 95% approval rating from past participants—nearly unheard of in distance running. They must be doing something right—actually many, many things right. Come to Baltimore and see for yourself what a wonderful distance running experience they provide, a true resource for the world-wide running community.