2014 Baltimore Marathon

Baltimore Marathon – A+

#BestRaceEver

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On Saturday, October 18th, I had the pleasure of running the Baltimore Marathon. This is a race that I would highly recommend to other runners. Between the interesting race course, the encouraging spectators and the awesome organizers, the Baltimore Marathon has to be one of the best marathons out there. Here is my race report card:

  • Cost – B

Registration is done online, on the Baltimore Running Festival website. Registration is quick and easy. The cost is somewhere around $80-$100 depending on when you sign up. 

  • Race Expo – A

This year the race expo was held at the Baltimore Convention Center. In prior years it had been held at M&T Bank Stadium (home of the Baltimore Ravens). Both are great venues and I do like that they switch it up. Both are located in downtown Baltimore and are easy to access by foot, car, Uber, bus, Charm City Circulator or light rail. The expo has a lot of Baltimore focused race gear for runners to choose from. From tanks, to tees, to cold weather gear, the Baltimore Marathon expo has it all. Most of the gear is Under Armour (which is fitting since you run past their headquarters during the race). This year, race gear available for purchase featured a patch (see below) with the Maryland flag and Fort McHenry (which is a popular destination in Baltimore as the Star Spangled Banner was written there). Other race gear featured a crab with a race bid on. They even had shirts that read, “We put the HON in marathon!” (Click here for Baltimore Running Festival race gear.)

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Aside from the race gear, there are lot of other vendors at the expo who offer things like energy bars, running accessories, other races to sign up for, pain relief items and Under Armour even had their own station.

  • Race Swag – A

This year we received an Under Armour long sleeve tee for our race t-shirt. (I am actually sitting here writing this in my race shirt. I love it.) Below are pictures of the shirt. It is comfortable, they have men’s and women’s sizes, the color is bright (so you will not get hit by a car while out running), the design is beautiful and I REALLY love the ‘Marathon 26.2’ on the back.

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(Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

Aside from the shirt, not much else comes in your ‘race bag’ as you may call it. You do get a few free samples of LARABARS and tortilla chips.

  • Course – A+

I absolutely love this course and you will too. If you have never been to Baltimore, this is the perfect way to explore the city. If you live here, you will still love this course. The route is beautiful and keeps you interested the entire way. The start of the race is located downtown near Oriole Park at Camden Yards (home of the 2014 American League East Champion Baltimore Orioles). The race takes you through so many different areas, from downtown regions, to west Baltimore, from good parts of town to the not so great parts, you get to see it all. Some of my favorite parts of the race – running through the Maryland Zoo, running down St. Paul Street to Light Street and seeing all the people by the harbor, running through Fed Hill along Key Highway and to Under Armour Headquarters (which is a really fun area, they have music, they welcome you to Under Armour, there is a lot of energy here), running through Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton square and Patterson Park, running by Johns Hopkins, and of course, my FAVORITE part, running down Eutaw Street, through the city, through Camden Yards to finish in the parking lot between Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. I have run this course four years in a row and it NEVER gets old. I love the entire race and each time I run it, I find myself just looking around at everything around me. This course has to be the most interesting course I have run in my life. I absolutely love it and I promise you that you will too!

  • Participants – A+

Although this race is not the largest in the country, it definitely has GREAT participants. The race had around 2,700 marathon finishers, but they are not the only participants you will see along the way.  While running the marathon you will see individuals running the relay (four person teams) and half way through the race, you will have some newbies join you as the half marathoners finish the last ten miles with you.

I love the people who participate in this race. Everyone is happy, friendly and encouraging. This is like no other race I have run. The race directors have ‘Full’ bibs that marathoners wear on their backs (see picture at top of the article). This makes a HUGE difference, especially when you start running with the half marathoners. I CANNOT tell you about the camaraderie amongst the runners in this race. At one point I stopped to stretch. A woman saw the ‘Full’ on my back and said, “What mile are you on, honey?” I told her it was mile 20. She told me, “You are doing great, come on, run with me, I will help you finish.” She was not the only one that helped me along the way, other half marathoners passing by would yell, “Full – you are doing great!  Keep it up!” I had so many people running alongside of me, encouraging me, helping me along the way.  It was like the nicest, most positive group of runners I have ever been around.

  • Spectators – A+

Not only are the participants great, the spectators are amazing. The course is great and FILLED with spectators, so if you get bored of the city scenery (which you will not), you can always look around and find people to high five or race posters that will have you laughing. Some of my favorites signs from this years race:

#1 – “Run if you think I am sexy!”

#2 – “I like big runs and I cannot lie…” (A twist on the song ‘Baby Got Back’.)

#3 – “Turn down for what!” (Always a gem.)

Others that I loved along the course – “Run like you stole something” (always a favorite), “This is the worst parade ever” (that gets me every time), “Punch here for power”, and the huge hands to high five.

This race has the best spectators! Thank you guys for coming out!

  • Finish – A+

This finish can not be beat. The last mile of the race is run down hill on Eutaw Street, one of the cities most popular streets.  Here you run by Lexington Market, into Oriole Park at Camden Yards (where you can see little baseball plaques on the ground with names and dates that mark all the spots of homeruns hit onto Eutaw Street), to the parking lot between Oriole Park and M&T Bank Stadium.  There are spectators screaming for you along the way, photographers capturing your special moment, and the FINISH LINE!!!! FINALLY!!! This is the best part of the race. This year we received a medal (see below) which can also serve as a bottle opener (these guys think of everything):

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(Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

The finish is equipped with racer’s blankets, water, chips, protein bars, bathrooms and a post-race party area where you can hang out, grab a beer and find your friends and family.

  • Other Details – A+

I truly believe that this race sets itself apart from others for a number of reason. The race organizers create a community of runners by offering training runs, trips to Orioles games, Facebook interactions and post-race injury clinics.

Let’s start with training runs. There are two long runs set up at 7AM on two Saturdays during your training. The first run is for marathoners and half-marathoners in training to get in 8-12 miles. The second run is three weeks before the race, and for those of you who follow training schedules this is your longest long run. Half-marathoners will run 10 miles and the marathoners will do 20. Each training race is $5 and the money was donated to BARCS, an animal shelter. The training runs are awesome! They set up really fun routes that take you on parts of the actual race course. You can meet and run with other runners. There are water stops along the way that have Gatorade and other energy supplements as well. This really helped me get through my 20 mile training run.

Another awesome thing that these guys do is set up a night at an Orioles game. Runners can purchase discounted tickets for the Baltimore Running Festival night at the ballpark. For wearing race gear to the game, you can stop at a table that is set up there and pick up a special gift. This year they also had a drawing for baseball autographed by O’s star Chris Davis.

Aside from these activities, the Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page is outstanding! From contests, to important information, to race gear unveilings, these guys always keep me coming back to their page for more. Here are some reasons why you need to follow these guys on Facebook:

  1. They are hilarious:

4(Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

2.     They want to hear from you and value your opinion:

6 (Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

3.     They value their volunteers:

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(Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

4.     They give you valuable race day updates:

9(Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

5.     They encourage you while you are training:

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(Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

6.     They are fun:

11 (Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

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 (Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

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 (Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

Lastly, they put on a post-injury clinic for runners who live nearby.  Here runners can see a sports medicine doctor and get a free injury assessment. (See flier below.)

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(Image from Baltimore Running Festival Facebook page.)

 

  • Overall Race Grade – A+

To sum this race up in one word, I would have to say it is AWESOME! I encourage anyone thinking about running a marathon or even a half marathon to participate in this race. If you have any questions regarding this race, feel free to ask in the comment section below! To sign up for next years Baltimore Marathon, which will be held on October 17, 2015, click here.

Happy running!

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(Me, in purple, running alongside my running buddy, Becca at mile 9 of the Baltimore Marathon!)

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Jessie Zahner is the owner of Athletchic.com. You can follow her on twitter at @Athletchic.

 

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One thought on “2014 Baltimore Marathon

  1. Jeff says:

    After that review they should hire you as a spokeswoman for the race….or do advertising or TV commercials. …excellent review

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