Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baltimore Running Festival

This past Saturday, I participated in the Baltimore Running Festival.  I ran in the marathon relay with some of my Princess running friends.  This race is special to me because Baltimore is like home to me, its the first place I remember living.  The day started crazy and very stressful, but it turned out great!

Let me preface this next paragraph by saying I am the worlds worst driver.  I left my house about 5 am.  I headed south and hit Baltimore by 6 am.  I made my way to Oriole Park at Camden Yards--the place were runners could park for free.  I missed the one turn into the parking lot and there I was--back on I-95!  I got off at the next exit and them found my way back to Camden Yards.  After lots of traffic, I finally got into the lot--just to be the third car turned away due to a full lot.  I followed the two cars in
front of me--right onto the course and under the start line.  Ugg!  The police were yelling at us, but they were nice and gave me directions to another lot to park in.  After a few turns--there I was--at the full Camden Yards lot again!  By this time, I had been in my car circling the city for an hour.  I had to be on the bus to my relay point in just 30 short minutes!  I followed the cars in front of me and finally found a open stop at Raven's Stadium.  My relay team meet me at my relay bus with my bib.  I made it with seconds to spare--seriously--seconds!

Thankfully, my day turned around after that.  I met some really fun ladies on the relay bus.  We were running leg two, so we had about an hour to wait before our first leg partner got to us.  We met our first leg running partners at mile 5, between Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Zoo.  The relay exchange point was like a party!  First to pass was the lead wheel chair athlete.  Since I am a back of the pack runner, I have never seen the wheel chairs before.  Baltimore is such a hilly city.  I give those guys so much credit.  After a few minutes the lead runner passed.  The crowd cheered!  It was amazing.  We cheered and cheered as the runners passed.  Soon it was my turn to run.

My leg started straight up hill!  It was a tough start.  I tried to walk the ups, run the down.  My leg went from the zoo, past Hopkins University toward the famous Baltimore Inner Harbor.  Then we ran through South Baltimore, around the Under Armour Headquarters and back to the Inner Harbor for the hand off to our leg three partner.  In total, I ran 7.5 miles.

Right before my hand off, the half marathon started. I really love how the Baltimore Running Festival staggered the events.  The full marathon and the marathon relay started at 8 am.  The 5k started at 9 am, using the start line and finish line of the full marathon, but the course was shortened, of course.  Then the half marathon started at 9:45 am, at mile 13.1 of the full marathon. All races were destined for the same place--Camden Yards!

After my hand off, I headed to race village.  The festivities were in full swing!  There was live music, vendors with food and lots of games from companies like Geico and Chick Fila.  I entered the runners only area to meet up with my teammates.  I got my relay medal and then went for some food!  One thing the Baltimore Running Festival does better than any other is feed their runners well!  I have never been to a running event with better food.  First off, Chick Fila was walking around the finish area giving runners their amazing sandwiches.  What is better after a long run than a Chick Fila sandwich?  Baltimore is famous for their seafood, in Baltimore there is no more famous seafood restaurant than Phillips.  Phillips was in the runners only area with their famous Maryland crab soup.  There was also Utz potato chips, Power Bars, Dole fruit cups, apples, bananas and lots of other yummy food.  What a perfect way to wait for my leg four teammate to cross the finish.

Along with feeding runners after the race, the Baltimore Running Festival knows how to feed runners on the course too!  In my opinion, they did not have enough water stations.  I guess I am spoiled by runDisney, with a stop at each mile.  The Baltimore Running Festival had water stops about every two miles--but most stops had food too.  Along the course was Dunkin Donuts, Utz potato chips, bananas, oranges, Power Bars, Power Bar gels and various candy.  For fluids, they had Gatorade and water.  I did not take any of the food along the course because I did not need it, but if I ever did a full marathon this would be perfect.  One thing I still do not have down is during race fueling.  This course would make it super easy because I would not have to carry fuel with me.

The winner of this years race has a really heartwarming story.  Runners were buzzing about it all day.  The winner is a local teacher and track coach.  My forth leg teammate reported seeing his students cheer home on as he passed mile 20.  He was the first local winner of the race.  The Baltimore Running Festival is an event I would highly recommend to anyone.  One thing I wish they would improve--the half marathon
runners really get cheated out of beauty of Baltimore.  The half runs through the bad neighborhoods of the city.  The first half of the marathon course is amazing, but the second half (also most of the half marathon) is through some not so great areas of Baltimore.  Other than that, the Baltimore Running Festival was an amazing experience I can't wait to do again.

A dream is a wish...


1 comment:

  1. Good ol' Baltimore! I'll have to try to get in on this one next year for sure. Love a race that doesn't require a major commute, and the prospect of readily available food sounds great.