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home > races/results > usa: maryland > quoth the raven “what a blast!”

Quoth the Raven “What a blast!”
The Baltimore Marathon and Running Festival is your chance for a weekend full of convenient and runner-friendly fun in a cool city bursting with activities.

Quoth the Raven “What a blast!”

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By Christopher Russell
Posted Friday, 14 October, 2005

This one’s got plenty going for it. What are the compelling reasons you should put it on your calendar October 13th – 15th 2005?

  • Runner friendly
  • Great sponsor support – Excellent free schwag from Under Armor
  • Free online registration
  • Free Parking
  • Well managed – Lots of support
  • 15 Gatorade/Water and snack/gel stations
  • Well supplied with “Comfort Stations”
  • Pacing teams
  • Interesting course – USATF Boston qualifier loop course
  • Bag check at Ravens Stadium for the start
  • Finish in Camden Yards
  • Field limits on all events
  • Pasta in Little Italy
  • Big Expo in Ravens stadium
  • Big party with live music and interactive games
  • Hundreds of thousands of fans lining the course
  • Convenient
  • Easy to get to
  • Centrally located to East Coast cities – Philly – D.C. – NY – NJ – Mid Atlantic and New England
  • Many close-by airports – Amtrak – Rte. 95
  • Mild weather
  • Plenty to do
  • Baltimore Inner Harbor
  • Great Sea Food!
  • Orioles – Ravens – Terrapins
  • Johns Hopkins

Make a weekend of it, or run it as a qualifier but don’t miss this chance to have a blast!

Keep ‘em happy and they’ll keep coming!

At Baltimore, it’s all about making it easy and fun for you, the runner.
Like many races these guys have figured out that the most important thing to the vast majority of us – the mid-packers – is “ease of use”. What does this mean? We know we’re paying our money and we’re pretty sure we’re not going to get a share of the $100,000 in cash prizes, therefore it is important for race organizers to remember the little things that make or break our experience.

Remember the old maxim; “If you have a good experience, you’ll tell 2 people, but if you have a bad experience you’ll tell 20”? How do you find out what runners value in a race experience? Ask them.

The Baltimore running festival takes this to heart. Each year they survey all the participants to ask them what was done right and what wasn’t. They implement changes to make the races better the next year. For instance; one feedback the first year was that the original marathon course with a 400+ ft altitude gain was too hard. In response the race directors changed the course to a more reasonable 200 ft peak instead. They work hard to keep the runners happy. Here are some quotes from recent surveys that they shared with me.

"The best city, volunteer and police support. The enthusiasm was incredible. Very organized and upbeat."

"I enjoyed this marathon. The route was good for spectators; my parents were able to see me at four locations without having to do a lot of walking. Nice technical shirt that will see more use than a cotton t-shirt."

"Race course was great. Everything about the race and the race route was perfect. I could not have asked for a better race. Race day was truly great and I think superbly organized."

This year is the 5th anniversary and they are pulling out the stops to make it fun. The event has been growing 20-25% year over year since it started and this year they expect 12,000 participants. They’ve worked out all the kinks and they are peaking for you this year.

Give me FREE stuff!

Another thing that I like about this race is that they don’t use online registration as a way to hit you with another fee. Online registration is free! The way it should be. Philosophically, I could never see how my elimination of overhead by registering online should raise the price. I know there’s a middle man making some money off of the transaction, but at Baltimore they eat this fee for you.

You know I get great pleasure from useful free stuff. I’m not going to make a quilt, so stop giving me those cheap cotton T shirts. Advantage number two for Baltimore is having Under Armor as its primary marathon sponsor. Not only does the UA team support the prize package, but they provide excellent shirts that you can actually use for running, (instead of washing your car). As a matter of fact, the whole company gets into it. Of the 300 local employees, 200 run one of the events. When you see them out there, thank them for the nice shirt!

Runner friendly also means free parking close to the events. All the races start at the stadium complex downtown. They open up the stadiums for parking, bag check and rest rooms. The Expo is at the Ravens Stadium too, in case you need some sun glasses or a couple cases of tax-free goop for the race.

The combination of different events and prize categories at Baltimore is dizzying. There is the marathon – the ½ marathon – 5k – kids run –relay teams – Top finishers – age groups – Top Maryland resident – Top Baltimore Resident – Top Terrapin finishers – Armed Forces Relay- First time marathoner. All the events finish in the same place (Camden Yards) and this creates an energizing melee of activity. You’d think with all that we might be able to win something? Probably not, but it does prove that the organizers are working hard to make everybody happy.

Keep me interested!

This marathon wanders around all the cool parts of Baltimore. It starts at and ends at Camden Yards. The finish is super cool as it passes through the ball park. The course heads north to the zoo, wraps around the downtown, around the inner harbor, through Fells Point, Federal Hill and Little Italy. It is a loop course that is a certified Boston qualifier (if you suffer from that particular addiction). The course support is grade ‘A’ including mileage markers, 15 fluid stations on the course (water and Gatorade), fruit, pretzels, potato chips, energy bars and gel (2 locations on course), toilets at start/finish and various points on the course and chip timing,. Question: When was the last time you pulled into a water stop with a craving for potato chips? OK, we’ll let that one slide…must be for the half-marathoners!

There are an estimated 200,000 fans that come out to cheer you on as the whole city gets behind the event. The restaurants in Little Italy offer specials for a real pasta feed. No more suffering through the limp macaroni line!

As more proof of understanding what runners like, the organizers keep a big party going on. There are typically 30,000 people at the ‘Celebration Village’. The village is located near the finish line in the Ravens parking lot. It features live music, interactive games, food and drink on race day from 8 AM to 3 PM. The Village is FREE and open to the public. And…wait for it…FREE BEER for the runners. Yes, they definitely know what runners want! This big party may help you talk someone into going with you!

Make it easy to get to!

It’s about time someone figured out that Baltimore is a cool little city and a great place to hold a marathon. Have you been to Baltimore lately? Consider taking a weekend jaunt to the ‘City of Firsts’. If you haven’t been paying attention Baltimore has a lot going for it and is a perfect venue for an outing of this type. I frequently travel to Baltimore for business and the city has experienced a renaissance.

Baltimore is very easy to get to, situated midway up the East Coast. Washington D.C. is under an hour away if you want to take the kids to the Smithsonian. Philadelphia is right up the road, an easy 1 ½ hour commute. The drive form Richmond, VA is under 3 hours. The Big Apple is just 3 hours up 95 and you can get to New England in 4-6.

When I go to Baltimore I can catch a flight out of Manchester New Hampshire into BWI for $79, nonstop, peanuts included. There are at least 5 airports within 100 miles that I can think of. If flying is not your thing, Amtrak runs up and down the east coast, (that is until congress cuts it). Any way you figure it, Baltimore is easy to get into and get out of. That kind of convenience is important for people looking to travel to a city for a race. Running a race is hard enough without travel hassles.

Lots to do – lots to see!

The City itself has a lot going for it. It is home to the Ravens and Orioles who share their stadiums with the race on race day as well as the Preakness. The inner harbor area is gorgeous. My family loved it when I took them there for long weekend. We went to the IMAX theatre in the Science Museum and the Aquarium. There is Fort McHenry of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ fame. There are several famous naval vessels to be viewed, including the Constellation, the last all sail war ship commissioned by the US Navy, a submarine and a floating light house. You can ride the Duck tours, (I did), or rent a paddle boat. The inner harbor is cool and its restaurants and shopping are great.

There are several historic neighborhoods, including Fells Point, Federal Hill and Little Italy that are all close by the city center with more great shopping, sight seeing and eating opportunities.

The whole area is rich with history and beautiful Chesapeake Bay geography.

The Raven

Then, of course, there is the famous Edgar Allen Poe. Poe wrote and died in Baltimore. His well known poem “The Raven” is what all the raven references in Baltimore are about. Here’s the first stanza. You can memorize it and recite it next time you’re at a party so your parents won’t think all that tuition money was wasted!

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Come on down to Baltimore and run with the Ravens, or the Terrapins or even the Crabs. They have great crabs. Don’t wait too long. Remember there are limits in the number of entries in each race. The ½ marathon sells out each year.

Make Baltimore your fall marathon or just a weekend get away to a cool little waterfront city where you can kick back and enjoy the party that these folks are throwing October 13th -15th 2005.



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