Runners and supporters alike took to the streets of Charm City as the Baltimore Running Festival commenced this past Saturday. Since its revival in 1995, the marathon returned to the city for its fifteenth consecutive year.
More than 24,400 people spanning all 50 states and 29 different countries registered and turned out for this year’s festival. The festival included the traditional full marathon, as well as four shorter-distance races that runners could select instead. A half-marathon, a 5K, a Team Relay, and Kid’s Race all took place Saturday as well, which worked perfectly to accommodate all types of athletes.
Participants and explorers could explore and engage in activities before, during, and after races. Vendors set up tents at the start/finish line to show off running gear and fitness products, while other tents had fun activities that both kids or adults could take part in.
Runner Maximilian Andrews (left) was a first-time participant this year in the festival and ran in the half-marathon. “Initially in my mind, the Baltimore Running Festival was only a race. But after completing it, it turned out to be so much more,” said Andrews. “There was a sense of community and togetherness, which made running the 13.1 miles much easier.”
Participants in each race were cheered on by thousands of supporters and citizens as the course wound through different neighborhoods, parks, and major streets of the city. Some people brought signs, played instruments, and even wore costumes to show the runners their support during races. “I didn’t expect the turnout to be as large as it was,” said Andrews. “I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support and encouragement from the city’s community.”
The Festival’s organizers – Corrigan Sports Enterprises – had been concerned in the weeks leading up to the event about the drop in participant registration this year. The social unrest and riots that occurred back in April may have scared away potential returning participants and newcomers, some speculated. However, when it came time for the races to kick-off, registration ended up down only slightly compared to the previous year. “The entire event went incredibly smoothly. There was a sense of security that made everyone feel safe during the races,” Andrews said.
The marathon was won this year by Dave Berdan of Owings Mills, Maryland, who finished with a time of 2:30.22. This is his second first-place finish in the last three years of competing in the festival. The winner in the women’s category was Caitlan Gaughan of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who finished in first with a time of 2:58:12.
For more information about the Baltimore Running Festival and information regarding next year’s event, you can visit their webpage here.