Oh say can you see!
A star spangled tour of Ft. McHenry highlights this year’s Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival.
Posted Monday, 22 May, 2006
Treat yourself to this wonderful chance to tour a storied city and enjoy a personal challenge. This year marks the 6th year of the running of the Baltimore Marathon and Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival. Be part of history. Make your own history. Come and run. Come and celebrate. Come and see the cornucopia of places and people that is Baltimore.
On Oct. 14th, 2006 runners will feel the awe of history as they round Ft McHenry and are bathed in the inspiration of the Star Spangled Banner. The addition last year of an up-close-and-personal circuit of the old fort where the famous standoff of 1814 spawned our national anthem is an inspiring addition to this event. I’ll refresh your memory and you can sing along. Picture yourself at mile 10 and you are tired, but you see the old fort and you hold your head high and persevere.
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
After capturing Washington, D.C., and burning some of its public buildings, the British headed for Baltimore. On the morning of September 13, 1814, British bomb ships began hurling high-trajectory shells toward Fort McHenry from positions beyond the reach of the fort's guns. The bombardment continued throughout the rainy night.1
This great tour of history combined with the existing well supported, runner-friendly event has raised Baltimore to the level of its big-city marathon cousins. It is a noteworthy achievement in just six years to grow this much in participation and maturity. It speaks to the commitment to excellence that all involved embrace. It has all the big city organization and amenities with small city charm and hospitality.
A Racing Festival comes of age!
This is the 6th year for the Baltimore Running Festival. At more than 12,000 participants right in the middle of Charm City the races are a large logistical challenge. The event has grown and the numbers are adding up to a great time for the participants. Check out what the diligent crew and the city pull together for you to make this something you can enjoy and remember!
By The Numbers – 12,000 Runners – One event -No problem!
$100,000 – Total purse in dollars, Among the Top 10 Largest purses in the country
80,000 – Number of cups used for Gatorade throughout the course
170,000 – Number of cups used for water throughout the course
30,000 – Fans expected at the finish line
$15,000 – Winner’s share for both the male and female winners of the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon
10,176 – Number of runners pre-registered for the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival
8,000– Number of Energy Bars passed out to runners at the finish line
8,000 – Number of bananas given on race day
7,200 – Number of bags of Potato Chips available on race day
6,600 – Number of bags of Pretzels available on race day
2,000 – Number of apples available on race day
2,000 – Number of oranges available on race day
280 – Number of cases of Pepsi products available on race day
2,500 – Number of Mary Sue Easter Eggs available on race day
4,100 – Number of runners registered in the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon
3,000 – Number of runners registered in the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon
1,500 – Number of runners registered in the Legg Mason Funds Team Relay
375 – Number of teams registered for the Legg Mason Funds Team Relay
1,350– Number of runners registered in the United Way 5K
200 – Number of racers registered for the BELIEVE Kid’s Fun Run
152 – Number of registered runners who participated all five years of the event
59 - Number of racers registered who have run the marathon every year
48 – Number of states represented among the races (all but Alaska and Hawaii)
25 – Number of countries represented among all the races
1,000 – Volunteers needed to help with event operations
2,300 – Number of trash bag liners used on race day
$2,000 - Winner’s share for both the male and female winners of the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon
$40 million – Amount of money event generates for the city of the Baltimore.
$2 million – Amount of money event has donated to charity in 4 years
$5 – Amount from every 5K registration that is donated to the United Way of Central Maryland.
230 – Number of feet above sea level course is at highest point
150 – Number of port-a-lets throughout the course
4 – Live bands performing throughout the day
16 – Number of aid stations on the course (located at mile markers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14.5, 16, 17.5, 19, 20.5, 22, 23.5, 25; mile 2 of the half-marathon course)
9 – Number of port-a-let locations along the course (miles 4, 6, 8, 13, 16, 19, 20.5, 23.5, 25)
9 – Number of themed miles along the course (BELIEVE – 2; Babe Ruth – 3; Crab – 8; Star-Spangled Banner – 9; That’s Italian! – 14; Johnny Unitas – 19; Preakness – 20.5; Ripken – 21.31; Eddie Murray – 22)
8 – Number of Johns Hopkins medical stations along the course (mile markers 4, 6, 10, 13, 16, 20, 24 and finish line)
7 – Number of clocks positioned throughout the course to give split times (mile markers 1, 5, 10, 13, 15, 20 and 25)
You, the running guest, get to reap the benefits of an organization that has reached the nadir of maturity and organization. Even though the race continues to grow, and organizing a high-growth urban event of this magnitude is a challenge, they continue to focus on delivering quality for the runner. Organizers continue to set as their main goal the experience of the runner.
On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Anxiously awaiting news of the battle's outcome was a Washington, D.C., lawyer named Francis Scott Key. Key had visited the enemy's fleet to secure the release of a Maryland doctor, who had been abducted by the British after they left Washington. The lawyer had been successful in his mission, but he could not escort the doctor home until the attack ended. So he waited on a flag-of-truce sloop anchored eight miles downstream from Fort McHenry.1
You know you’ve made the big time when…
The Baltimore Running Festival has even developed its own flavor of professional spectators. You know what I’m talking about, these are those nutty people who are not even runners but get juiced by the spectacle. Every year they suit up in whacky costumes or staff impromptu refreshment stands. It is a measurement of success for an event – when you organically develop race groupies. Every year new traditions spring up as things continue to blossom. It’s spontaneously generation. Success builds on success and that is what the Baltimore Running Festival continues to do for the City.
There is a “Gummi Bear Guy that passes out candy to runners at mile 21 for a sugar boost. There is the “Eye of the Tiger Lady” who dresses up and dances to inspire the runners. The “Baltimore Hons” are on the course…a little explanation from the locals is required…This from the “Honfest” web site…What is a “Hon”?The term “Hon” is actually a friendly Baltimore greeting and comes from the word “honey.” However, the women who vie to become Baltimore’s Best Hon are a vision of the sixties-era women with beehive hairdos, blue-eye-shadow, spandex pants and something, anything leopard print!
You may see cheerleaders and stilt walkers on the course. Weeks prior to the event the city starts the furor by decorating the street poles with marathon banners. There are always local celebrities running and the event is referred to by some as The Preakness of the Fall.
Still making it easy…
The organizers make it easy for you to come and run the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival. They continue to focus on ‘runner friendly’. They continue the tradition of no extra charge for online registration. They continue to have ample FREE on-site Expo & Race Day parking and FREE gear check at finish. They continue to co-locate the expo, the start and finish of all the events in the same area. The expo is still uniquely inside Ravens Stadium. The inspirational finish is inside Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. They have a very deep marathon pace group program for you. They continue to work extra hard to get you and your friends and family to Baltimore this October.
The event has become very popular and continues to be well-supported by the community. There are and estimated 35000 fans at the finish line and 15,000 at the half way point of the marathon (also the start of the half marathon) The half marathon starts so that many of the half and full finish in unison. If you had someone who wanted to pace you in or meet up with you at the finish, this is highly convenient. This year the organizers made some changes to segregate the half marathoners to remove some congestion in the merge. They are always taking feedback and fine-tuning the event to make it hum. Every year you benefit from the learning of the previous year.
The organization tries very hard. They very much personalize the runner’s experience. They try to do everything right. That’s why they were so distressed last year in when some unseasonable heat and a brief logistics snafu left no water on the course at the end for a short time. Even though the organization reacted quickly to rectify, it left some of the marathoners frustrated. As the poet said “The best laid plans if mice and men do often go agley.” Come on back this year – they can’t control the weather, but they can control the logistics. They have a new water sponsor and you can bet the course will be over-hydrated this year!
That is the core strength of this event. They actively solicit feedback from all involved – the good the bad and the ugly. They follow up. They positively reinforce the things that work and keep striving to polish up the things that need polishing. It’s a hard working honest strategy that produces a fine product for the running consumer. Based on feedback, 9 out of 10 runners surveyed would recommend the race to someone else.
Have we got a race for you?
The race directors have a simple marketing message. They want the Baltimore Marathon to be your race of choice for the fall. They have positioned it on the calendar so that you can use it as a training run for NYC or Marine Corp. This isn’t a bad idea… If you have to do a long training run, you might as well do it with entertainment and 12,000 of your closest friends with lots of course support. It wasn’t my plan, but I ended up running 3 marathons in 6 weeks last fall chasing a qualifying time (I know I’m pitiful) and the two warm up marathons gave me the juice to kick it on the third one.
The target market for this event is everyone! That’s right, everyone! They love families and they encourage families to participate together. They go out of their way to make sure it’s all coordinated to make everyone happy and healthy together. The race slate includes something for each member of your family.
First is the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon (course map). This is 26.2 miles that covers all of Baltimore. Not just Ft. McHenry but also a tour of the Inner Harbor, Fells Point and other places of interest. It is a USATF certified Boston Qualifier that kicks off at 8:00 AM and will have a field limit of 4,000.
If you or one of your compatriots isn’t up to the whole marathon they can run the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Half-Marathon. This event kicks off at 9:45 AM and follows the second half of the marathon course. This race will be capped at 3500 entrants.
If you want to run and be part of a team you can join up for the Legg Mason Funds Team Relay. The Team Relay Runs the same course as the marathon. It consists of four participants per team with each runner selecting a portion of the marathon course to run. The legs vary in length from 5.9 to 7.1 miles. This race kicks off at the same place and time as the marathon, 8:00 AM and is limited to 750 teams.
For those of you who want t a shorter challenge there is always the United Way 5K.
The 5K starts at 8:30 AM, has a race limit of 1,500 and has become a very fast and competitive race with a purse offered to the top five (5) male and female finishers.
And for the kiddies 12 and under there is the Kid's Fun Run. There are two age groups: 7 and under (Red Division) and 8-12 (Blue Division). The two age groups will run different lengths with all participants crossing the same finish line as the marathoners. All participants will receive a t-shirt, medal, water and Gatorade.
As you can see the event has got all the bases thoroughly covered. You’re left with no excuses, bring the spouse, bring the kids, and bring Grandma and Grampa. Everybody runs and has fun at the Under Armour Running Festival. The races are designed as much as possible to have everyone finish at the same time so that families can celebrate together.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
During the night, there had been only occasional sounds of the fort's guns returning fire. At dawn, the British bombardment tapered off. Had the fort been captured? Placing a telescope to his eye, Key trained it on the fort's flagpole. There he saw the large garrison flag catch the morning breeze. It had been raised as a gesture of defiance, replacing the wet storm flag that had flown through the night.
A Cool Shirt – and deep pockets…
Let’s talk about something that seems to resonate across all the reviews that I read. Every runner who ran the race was consistent with one thing. Whether they had a good race or a bad race, whether the loved it or otherwise, they all raved about the Under Armour technical shirt. And it’s more than just the shirt. This is a marriage made in heaven. The Baltimore Running Festival and Under Armour are a great fit. Under Armour is a Baltimore based company that supports with financial commitments, apparel and their employees pitch in too.
Based on my scientific poll which consisted of asking people at races, “So, how do you like that shirt?” Under Armour is doing something right because all the responses are glowing. I’ll relate one story from last year. I was in a marathon and drafted some guy for a few miles who was like an Under Armour billboard. He had a full outfit, shirt, tights, hat…all of it. You may have experienced similar times when you were in the zone late in a marathon and your mind gets very fragile and impressionable? I couldn’t get that logo out of my head for weeks. It was burned in. Good thing he wasn’t wearing something strange.
Under Armour executed its IPO last year very successfully. They are branching out internationally and across other product lines. I wish I bought some stock! I know they’ve got the buzz because I see teenagers wearing the stuff now too! But, seriously, why do you care? All this success and market traction makes them very generous in their support of the event. It’s always a plus for the participants when there is a 500 pound gorilla sponsor supporting from the wings. That and your 14-year-old will think you’re cool.
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Thrilled by the sight of the flag and the knowledge that the fort had not fallen, Key took a letter from his pocket, and began to write some verses on the back of it. Later, after the British fleet had withdrawn, Key checked into a Baltimore hotel, and completed his poem on the defense of Fort McHenry. He then sent it to a printer for duplication on handbills, and within a few days the poem was put to the music of an old English song. Both the new song and the flag became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner."1
A Little History
Baltimore is a little city geography-wise. You can tour most of it in less than 26 miles. The most obvious area is the inner harbor. It is this protected harbor, about half way up the US East Coast that fueled Baltimore’s growth when America was young.
The Star Spangled Banner became the national anthem in 1336. Ft McHenry is a traditional star shaped fort on a peninsula overlooking the entrance to the harbor. When cannons were the most high-tech form of weaponry, the star shape allowed each point to cover the other points. The end result is that there were no blind spots and no matter how you approached the fort you were caught in a withering crossfire. The British tried to get around this by ‘bombing’ the fort from a distance. It didn’t work and they withdrew.
The British wanted to capture – or at least subdue - Baltimore in the war of 1812. At the time Britain was still at war with France. As a major seaport Baltimore was home and harbor to much of the American merchant fleet. Baltimore gave access to the Atlantic and Caribbean trade routes.
The premise for the war of 1812 had to do with projecting power on the high seas. We declared war on the British because they were intercepting our trade with France and impressing (sort of a maritime kidnapping) American sailors. On the other hand, as soon as war was declared, Baltimore shipmasters converted their merchant vessels into ‘privateers’ and began preying on the British merchant fleet for easy pickings.
The British had the world’s most powerful navy. They sailed an expeditionary forced up the Potomac and burned Washington DC, the new nation’s capital. Then they turned their forces on the petulant privateers of Baltimore. Maryland called out the Militia and 1,000 men, artillerymen, militia and sailors hunkered down in Fort McHenry for a fight.
Ft. McHenry commanded the entrance to the harbor. In order to do damage to Baltimore proper the British fleet had to suppress the Ft McHenry Cannon. The rest, as they say, is history.
Last year’s results…
In 2005 over 12,000 participants joined in the running festival. It continues to grow by 20-25% year over year. . Even though Baltimore is not a ‘big city’, riding this wave of phenomenal growth puts the running festival in league with the other popular ‘big city’ marathons. The organization is first class and the amenities are those of a well polished urban event. This growth has been made possible by the event’s ability to provide an overall positive, valuable and rewarding experience.
Surprisingly there were no Africans in the top three finishers even with the hot day last year. Mykola Antonenko, a Ukrainian won overall with a 2:15:40. For the females, Ramilya Burangulova, a women’s master runner from Russia won with a 2:42:00.
The prize structure is rich enough to attract high quality elite runners and diverse enough to challenge everyone.
Master’s Marathon (40 & over)
Marathon Wheelchair Crank & Rim
Marathon Maryland Resident Bonus*
Marathon Baltimore Resident Bonus*
Armed Forces Challenge Marathon*
Top Terp Marathoner
Master’s (40 & Over)
Rise to the challenge – Make your own history!
Running any marathon is a challenge. Maybe not as difficult as being subjected to constant shelling for 25 hours straight, (although it feels like it sometimes), but it is a challenge none the less. Baltimore isn’t the easiest course in the world but it’s not overtly difficult either. When you run Baltimore this year you can feel proud and use it as an affirmation. You will feel better about yourself with the accomplishment. You will prove yourself. You can use it as a stepping stone to other great things. Like those artillerymen who stayed their post and returned fire come the morn.
Every time we run a race we gain experience and knowledge and sometimes a little wisdom. In Baltimore you can be part of something bigger than self. You can be part of history. No one can promise you an easy race or a perfect day, but we are guaranteed a challenge every time we toe that line. That’s why we do it. That’s how we seize our own little piece of greatness.
The Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival does its best to clear obstacles and make it easy for you to seize your day. Baltimore has risen to challenge of growing a premier city marathon from nothing in 5 years. That is a tripling of size in 5 years!
Here is some homework. This is a multimedia assignment. Find an audiotape on the history and defense of Fort McHenry and download it to your iPod so you can learn real time as you run. Or, find a recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture. Work out the timing such that the cannons boom just as you hit that special spot. That should rock your soul.
You’ve got 20 weeks from today to train. Even if you’re starting from zero you can add a mile a week and still be ready for Baltimore. Make this your summer goal. Make this your motivation to find your own staunch courage and to fuel your own unconquerable spirit. Prime your pump of greatness and unleash the wellspring of your power. Come to Baltimore to have fun and run with history!
1 All direct quotes courtesy Smithsonian Institute Website (www.si.edu)