When fourth-year medical student Jordan Tropf gathered with thousands of other runners for the start of the 17th Annual Baltimore Marathon on Oct. 21, he expected to be competitive and race with the frontrunners. What Tropf did not expect was to win the race by over three full minutes. At his pace, this meant he was over a half a mile in front of the second-place finisher.
Tropf managed to edge out the two-time champion of the Baltimore Marathon, Dave Berdan of Owings Mills, Md., who won the race in 2013 and 2015.
“I went out pretty hard, and nobody came with me,” Tropf said. “I got out in front, opened up a bit of a gap and just held it the whole time.”
Tropf started the race out strong from the gun, completing the first six miles in just over 33 minutes. The 2014 Naval Academy graduate was on his own running past the Maryland Zoo, looping around Montebello Lake and then crossing the Howard Street Bridge. By the time he made it to the Pratt Street finish, there was not another runner in sight.
However, this meant Tropf was on his own to manage his pace and push himself to the finish of his first-ever Baltimore Marathon. Tropf crossed the line in a winning time of 2:29.06, averaging a 5:41 mile throughout the 26.2 mile race.
Thousands of runners followed in Tropf’s wake as he crossed the Pratt Street finish line, a new addition to the course this year, which gave runners a view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as they crossed the finish.
“I did not expect to be alone the entire time,” Tropf said. “But all my training is completely on my own, so it wasn’t the most uncomfortable thing in the world.”
In his final year of medical school, Tropf, who was a member of the cross country team at Navy, managed to maintain his fitness and continue training while applying for residencies and working on away rotations.
Tropf has not logged a single mile in his past five years of training but rather gauges his training based on what his body feels on a day-to-day basis.
“I just go out there every day and do what I feel like. I don’t write it down or analyze my plan or my diet,” Tropf said. “The big reason is because sometimes you get stuck in the hospital or have other things going on, and I don’t like looking back and seeing this big hole in my training. If you go by feel, you don’t dwell on some of your setbacks.”
While this was Tropf’s first time competing in the Baltimore Marathon, the 25-year-old is no stranger to the distance, having raced in four Marine Corps Marathons, two Boston Marathons, two New York Marathons, a Chicago marathon and a Disney marathon.
“I like to do [a marathon] every fall and spring,” Tropf said. “I love racing them, and I love going places to race them. It is always something I look forward to every race season.”
This past April, Tropf participated in the Boston Marathon, finishing as Maryland’s top runner in 51st place overall in a field consisting of over 30,000 runners.
Additionally, just two weeks ago Tropf toed the line of the Chicago Marathon, finishing in 58th. With the Baltimore Marathon complete, Tropf has run his last three marathons all under two hours and 30 minutes.
This weekend, Tropf will wrap up his racing season as he travels up to New York to compete in his third New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 5.