This year was the second consecutive year that I participated in the Baltimore Running Festival by running in the Half Marathon. As a native of the Baltimore area, this race holds a special place in my heart. Highlights include a scenic start/finish at the inner harbor and running by many Baltimore landmarks. In this review I’ll provide my two cents on the expo and all aspects of the race.
The expo took place at the Baltimore Convention Center. Free parking is available in lots F and G of Ravens stadium. If you don’t want to do the .75 mile walk a complimentary shuttle is available. There are garages closer to the expo, but those will run you north of $25. I arrived at the expo around 3pm the day before the race, and was able to find free street parking about half a mile from the convention center.
The expo itself was a nice size. Signage was very clear and runners were funneled to one side of the hall to pick up their bib number. I would say the primary draw back of the expo layout is that runners were forced to snake past every exhibitor both to get their race premium on the other side of the expo hall. For the half marathon, the race premium was a very nice Under Armour long sleeve technical shirt. All in all I was able to be in and out of the expo in ~15 min.
It was a beautiful day for running! While an October race can be a role of the dice with regards to weather, we lucked out with sunny skies and temperatures of 50-60 degrees.
The start time for the Baltimore half is LATE. While the full marathon starts at 8am, the half starts at 9:45. I left my home in Pikesville, MD ~8:15am and had zero traffic getting down to Lot H of Ravens Stadium at 8:45am. It is a bit of a walk to get to the start line from the stadium. I didn’t mind the walk as it gave my legs a chance to warm up a bit. All in all I was at the start area by the harbor ~9:10. I used the remaining time I had to do some stretching and soak in the calm waters of the Inner Harbor.
The Race went off on time at 9:45am and my corral crossed the line at ~9:50am.
This is a tough course with over 600 ft of elevation gain (most of it in the first half). The course begins by taking runners from the Inner Harbor to Patterson Park in East Baltimore. There was no 1 mile marker, but Patterson Park comes into view around mile 2. The race then circumnavigates the park and sends the runners north on route to Lake Montebello.
Miles 3-6 were TOUGH. It seemed like a majority of the hills fell in this stretch of the race. This stretch of the race took us from the East side of Patterson park up north through Clifton Park, and just outside of Lake Montebello. At mile 3 there is a merger with the full marathon course.
Miles 6-8 Took runners on a full lap around Lake Montebello. While there were large hills before and after the like, having a nice stretch of flat course around the lake was great. It is a beautiful part of Baltimore. The lake marks the north east corner of the giant loop that is the Baltimore Half.
Miles 8-10 Leaving Lake Montebello, we made our way West passing through many Baltimore neighborhoods, and going by Johns Hopkins University.
Miles 10-13.1: By this point I was hurting! I was happy to see that this final stretch from North Baltimore, back to the harbor was mostly downhill. We ran by many major Baltimore land marks including Penn Station, the Lyric theater, and Royal Farms Arena. The crowd support was absolutely Incredible! Not only were there plenty of water stops, but local residents were handing out water, beer, and a church even had a “Holy Water” station! As I approached the harbor, it was time to make a left turn onto Pratt street and head to the finish. Just past the 13 mile marker, I spotted my wife in the crowd, and that gave me a huge rush of adrenaline to finish strong!
The finishers chute was well organized, and I quickly got my awesome crab shaped medal. There were tons of snacks available for runners. I grabbed a banana, protein bar, and crab chips. One of the options was even a cup of Phillips Seafood crab soup!
When I emerged from the finishers chute I was reunited with my incredible wife Amy! The Baltimore running festival is a very well executed event containing races of several lengths. It really puts “Charm City” on display and I was happy to be able to participate in it this year.
Please feel free to comment with any questions you may have about the Baltimore Running Festival.