A Return to Racing in the Free State After an 18-Month Hiatus
Why Run The Baltimore Running Festival? Here are 5 reasons that felt like a no-brainer.
Reason #1: This was their 20th-anniversary race which means the hype is bigger, the medal is blingy-er, and the atmosphere is always larger than life. After waiting 18+ months because of the pandemic, this was a very welcome relief. I laced up my running shoes and got back to what I do best: raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s and other related dementia research.
For people who have followed my journey for the past 10 years, most of you know I don’t train. I own it, I can’t explain it, but it is what it is…and for the last 18+ months, I have barely even walked a few miles at a time, let alone run them: #guiltyascharged
Reason #2: Run4Papa has a goal of running 50 half marathons in all 50 states. This was an important mile marker (pun intended) because this was state #25 and literally the halfway point between this goal which began several years ago. Despite an extremely sore and tender pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder area, I was too motivated to not show up and run against dementia.
Reason #3: Anytime I can convince my wife (which is way easier than it sounds) to hop a flight, run a race in a new place to encourage additional supporters for our cause, visit a new spot in the world together, and of course, eat some delicious crab (which is her favorite food on the planet), it seemed like a no brainer.
Reason #4: The Bling! I used to never ever look at any race bling until I actually crossed the finish line…until the Hackensack, New Jersey Half Marathon. What happened and when I crossed the finish line? There was no medal. They didn’t run out, they literally chose to not purchase medals…
For. A. Half. Marathon. Race.
Come on now. So without further ado, here is the race bling.
Reason #5: Since the 5K began at 7:30 am, and the Half Marathon kicked off at 9:45 am, (yes that is not a typo…the half marathon started over 2 hours later following the 5K,) I was able to see my wife run her race and have more than ample time to wait around (not a fan – more on this later) for mine to begin.
Baltimore’s Beloved Half Marathon Tradition Continues…
Miles 1-3: High energy is an understatement!
The half-marathon start line is a party on the shores of Baltimore’s famed Inner Harbor, the 13-mile mark of the marathon. Complete with a live band and 10,000 of your new best friends, the half-marathon will run its own course for the first 3 miles and merge with the marathon at Patterson Park. From that point, marathoners and half-marathon participants will run the same course to the finish line in Baltimore’s famed and iconic Inner Harbor!
Miles 4-5: Nothing special visually, but great people out to support
This stretch runs through the streets of Lindwood and Madison Avenues, past Washington Street, and St. Lo Drive. These couple of miles are mainly just running in between businesses with a handful of hills along the way. There was nothing overly visual to see; however, you do have wonderful people out supporting the runners.
Miles 7-9: Far and away the most scenic part of the half marathon race
Runners make their way past Clifton park and run approximately one mile around Lake Montebello. Following this loop, there is a down and back for mile 8 and runners make their way past Memorial Stadium at Mile 9.
Mile 10: She always finds a way…
My wife is just incredible! She is my biggest cheerleader and always finds a way to hop around a race in order to cheer me on at multiple points along the way. With all the road closers, and very few Uber’s available, she managed to meet me at Mile 10. I didn’t think I was going to see her until the finish line, so this was a massive lift when I really needed it! She even said, “don’t run too fast so I can meet you at the finish line!”
Miles 11-13: Finishing strong at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
Runners literally take Howard Street straight down to the finish line. And when I mean straight down, basically miles 11.5-13 are pretty much straight downhill which was a nice surprise and a welcome relief.
What should you know about running at the Baltimore Running Festival?
1. The Baltimore Airport is roughly a 20-minute drive to the Baltimore Inner Harbor where the 5K and Half Marathon take place. There are plenty of hotels within two minutes of walking distance to the start line. The Full Marathon starts at Camden Yards which sounded pretty amazing.
2. Packet Pick-Up at the Convention Center – this is also a 5-minute walk from the Inner Harbor area. The staff was extremely friendly, helpful, and they had some great swag/amazing vendors brought in for the runners.
3. The start times of these races were quite perplexing.
- 5K – 7:30 am
- 10K – 8:00 am
- Half Marathon – 9:45 am
- Full Marathon – 8:00 am
I have no clue why they wouldn’t start the full and half marathon one after the other or together followed by the 10K and 5K runners. I’ve never heard of a half marathon starting hours later than than 5K and 10K races. I would’ve preferred to have an earlier start.
4. In an effort to keep disposable cups from being thrown on the ground and limit touch points, runners were required to bring their own water bottle and carry it during the race. Refill stations were placed about every 4 miles served with both Gatorade and water. There were also plenty of locals supporting along the way passing out extra water which was so helpful considering the temperature and humidity.
5. The temperature began in the low 60s and eventually crept up to the high 70s. As you can tell in my pictures, it felt way warmer.
6. On a scale of 1-10, I would give the course a 5 or 6, but the supporters a 9! The people of Baltimore are all about this race and you will see plenty of support from start to finish with some hilarious signage throughout.
7. I will say, while marijuana is not legalized in this city, it is in Washington DC. And while I was running throughout the race, I was smelling plenty of weed in the streets. I could care less who smokes it, but when running a race, I found it frustrating to smell mile after mile.
8. The bling is what everyone loves to focus on before and after a race so here you go!
9. The crab soup and crab cakes are worth the trip alone! A few recommendations of places we ate at and visited in the city include: Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, Mama’s on the Half Shell, Ra Sushi, and Mason’s Lobster Rolls. On a mini side note, the Baltimore Aquarium ranks #2 to the Atlanta aquarium, but well worth the price of admission.
To view more Run4Papa photos of this race, go to 2021 Baltimore Running Festival