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Race Reviews • October 17, 2011

Baltimore Running Festival 1/2 Marathon Race Review

Baltimore Running FestivalBaltimore Running Festival Half Marathon Review

2011 marked the 11 Annual running of the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival. It was my fifth time participating in the event. One 5k, 3 full marathons, and now one 1/2 marathon. Every year I realize what a tough course it is. Eventually the idea of how tough it is fades in my memory. Not being a woman I would never really know but, I am guessing it is similar to childbirth. The next year I sign up again am surprised at how hilly the second half of the marathon is. Of course, the race officials make sure the half marathon runs the toughest part of the course. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is not an easy running course. If you do well in Baltimore you will do well in just about any other marathon.

The expo is not that large for the size of the event. None of the major shoe brands had a dedicated booth. The brands that did participate did so through local running retailers. I would like to see the expo get more significant and more exciting. The highlight for me was getting my picture with “Boston Billy” Rodgers, and seeing some running friends.

25,000 runners sold out all the events this year. 9,056 runners finished the half marathon; I was number 652-division place 63. My time was 1:45:39; I was hoping to be six to ten minutes faster. I didn’t let the slight disappointment ruin my day. I could make excuses about the hills or the wind; it just wasn’t my day to go faster. Lucky for me I ignored the wave start indicated by my bib. During registration they ask you for your estimated finish time. I entered 1:40, which should have had me in the 1st wave. The bib assigned to me would have had me in the slowest and last wave, #5. I was able to line up in the first corral, and all was well. As a side note, I ran in the Brooks Pure Connect.

It was a great day for Baltimore. The skies were blue. The city was friendly. The temps were almost perfect for running. It got a little warm towards the finish.


2011 Baltimore running festival Half Marathon course map


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Nice quick summary Thomas, sorry it wasn't the result you hoped for but you didn't really taper for it, near as I could see – so it's still a strong result.
    One pro tip – never compare ANYTHING to childbirth.  I can't wait to see the responses on that one.

  2. Bobby G says:

    While I have been living in Baltimore for nearly 5 years, this is my first time participating in the event. I ran the half (and PR'd—woot!). It was a great event, well organized and lots of good people to chat with. I rode my bike about 6 miles each direction to the start and home, which I will do every year, weather permiting. It was fun to ride and leaving the car at home and the line for the Lightrail behind is always my first choice. I have to concur with Thomas' assesment of the course. It is tough, it takes some heart and a lot of guts to do well here. Which is appropriate for a tough east coast city like Baltimore. The race really shows the city's personailty, taking you through the harbor and down the wide streets of many of its colorful neighborhoods and parks. And of course it ends right in the heart and soul of the city's passion: the stadium complex. I have to complain about some of the cleanup, the area around Lake Montebello was still full of trash and debree the day after the event. Part of this was due to the strong winds, but they need to do a better job of cleaning up, especially in the park areas that feed the bay. All in all it was a great event and a beautiful day. Next year I would love to see one of our great local breweries become the beer sponsor. Contrary to what Lance Armstrong is paid to say, real endurance athletes like good beer.

  3. I made sure that I qualified it by saying I am not a woman. Maybe that will help?


  4. KJ Perry says:

    Awesome review and I agree with everything you said. Around mile 11, I took one of the cups of water at the water stop and splashed it across my shoulders. Instantly brought relief from the sun.
    Love this comment: "If you do well in Baltimore you will do well in just about any other marathon."
    Great confidence booster as I plan to run the Baltimore full right before running in the NYC Marathon next fall. This comment also presents somewhat of a challenge….and I love a good challenge! 🙂

  5. Marie says:

    Nice review.  I agree with Bobby about the beer!  Real beer please!  Also, I didn't run it this year, the hubby did, but we both ran it last year and would like someone to explain the fact that there are no potties at the start line of the half.  There was ONE there this year and that was mainly for the Occupy Baltimore folks; I'm sure the city put up so they wouldn't completely make a mess of the area.  And that whole marathon/half marathon start merge area is tough.  Love the race tho, really we do!  The number of participants really does point to a much bigger expo.  

  6. Coleman says:

    You make several great points about the race. It's definitely tough, especially the last half. I ran it last year, but don't remember it all that well. This year, however, will provide a lasting memory. The hills seemed to go from mile 14 to about mile 24….After the race, I heard one man tell his wife that he was crossing Baltimore off his bucket list and wouldn't run such a hilly course again. I had almost the same reaction when I told my wife about my difficulties, but the lure of getting back out there to try it again will have me returning next fall most likely. 
    I was surprised to see a man pushing a running stroller as I didn't think they were permitted on the course. No one said anything, so I gathered that I was wrong. I thought more toilets would have been nice to have been available as I saw too many runners having to wait too long at the two or three available ones.
    The expo seemed really weak. Other than local running stores, you had Under Armour and little else.  I'm not sure if they limited the competition or if the size of the race limits the number of vendors who come.

  7. Tom B says:

    Nice review Thomas… I laughed about how you “forget” from year to year about the difficulty…I do the same thing and at then end I am saying…” man that was hard…again!”. Those hills dont flatten out year over year…Good to meet you and congrats on your stats even if they weren’t exactly what you were shooting for they still look pretty good.

    1. Great meeting you too Tom.

  8. Casey McConnell says:

    Great review.
    Baltimore is the city I live in and the city I run in. Even that didn't prepare me for 26.2 miles of hills. The day was absolutely perfect (even the headwind was wonderful, blowing once every few minutes seemingly only to quench my lungs' and skin's thirst). The crowds were terrific, especially around Druid Hill and the Zoo, around Hopkins, through Fed Hill, Patterson Park (live band), Lake Montebello (live band), 33rd and Ellerslie (Man in tiger suit dancing on car, gummy bears, and free beer – also where my wife waited for me with a much needed hug at mile 23). Everyone I met was friendly and interesting and had really positive things to say.
    I agree with you about the Expo – I only spent 30 minutes there, and most of that time was talking to the Geico Pacers (also amazing people!), but I didn't see much that allured me. I really wanted to try on your sneaker of choice – the pure connects (how are they by the way? I'm thinking of switching from the Kinvara – not enough room in the toebox) – but couldn't seem to find a pair.
    I agree with Bobby about the beer. We need some representation from Brewer's Art, Flying Dog, someone from the area.
    Finally, in addition to the Expo seeming weak, I was a little disappointed with the celebration village too. Way too chaotic, and the gates they put up seemed to be at random. Why do I have to wait in line for 10 minutes after running the hardest race of my life (3:47) just to exit the runner's village? Why can't I get a banana without standing in a line that goes all the way back to the finish line? Why are 30,000 + people crammed into this make-shift space that could easily be expanded to accomodate us all?
    Still, this was a great day, a tough day, but a great day that I will never forget.

  9. Casey, great time on your debut marathon, congrats. Pure Connect probably wont be the shoe for you if you find the Kinvara narrow. Maybe try on the FLow if you want to check out the Pure collection.

  10. Janet Teng says:

    Great recap of the race! I also did the Baltimore Half and I didn't expect it to be that hilly.  I actually chose the race because I wanted an Under Armour race shirt (which i later find out that they sell the leftover shirts for $10 at the MCM).  I still had fun!  I was able to catch my breathe on the downhills and make up some some.  I agreed with everything you mentioned.  Funny thing about the childbirth comment (I have yet to experience myself yet), but didn't a pregnant lady finish the Chicago Marathon 2 weeks ago and gave birth 7 hours after crossing the finish line?  They asked her which one was harder and she said the marathon was by far way easier! LOL

  11. JennyJ says:

    Nice review, T!  You can't even compare a PR with a hilly course like that…sounds brtual and what a great training run for MCM!   How did you like the Connects?

  12. Thomas says:

    Not sure on the connects, I the 13 the side kinda dug in and made my foot a little sore the following day. Trying to decide on MCM shoe now.

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