27,000 runners participated in last Saturday’s Baltimore Running Festival, taking part in the marathon, half marathon, 5K or Kids Fun Run.
According to the Baltimore Running Festival’s Public Relations Director Dave Gell, participation has increased by about ten to fifteen percent each year since the festival’s conception. The festival began in 2001 with 6000 participants that year.
The Baltimore Running Festival extends beyond its participants with fluid and snack stations along the course, a carbo-load dinner option in Little Italy, zoo employees who handle the animals as runners pass through, and what they call an “inspirational finish” at Camden Yards. It’s a spectator-friendly course and a Boston Marathon qualifier.
Preparations for the Baltimore Running Festival occur throughout the year preceding the Festival.
Many different Baltimore agencies are involved in putting this event together including the police, fire, public works and transportation departments.
As some courses ran past Homewood, Hopkins took measures to prepare. Campus security worked in conjunction with the Baltimore Police to ensure the safety of runners, students and drivers alike.
“We ensured all on-duty campus security staff were aware of the race course and when and where it intersected the Homewood campus,” Executive Director of Campus Security Edmund Skrodzki wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Historically this event has not caused any major problems for the university community given the advance notifications that are disseminated. No extra staffing was required because the Baltimore Police increased their coverage in our area during the event.”
The event drew large crowds to the Charles Village area.
“The marathon’s crowds make ours at the market smaller, but being able to hear music blaring for the runners and see the neighborhood fill up makes it an exciting day for market,” Julia DiMauro, a sophomore working at the Waverly Farmer’s Market, said.
Skrodzki explained that, due to the Festival’s extensive publicity of the event, most Charles Village residents were able to plan in advance to cope with the street closures.
“The motorists that had to stand by at the locations where streets were temporary closed adjusted to the situation by waiting for their opportunity to proceed or by-pass the area altogether,” he wrote. “Their inconvenience for the most part of the event was relatively speaking short term. There was obviously allowance for emergency access to and from the campus and residential areas within Charles Village.”
The runners, on the other hand, benefited from these road closures, which created a diverse course throughout the city.
“I really enjoyed the Baltimore course,” sophomore Eric Ryberg said.
Ryberg, president of See Hop Run, completed his first full marathon while walking the last six miles to prevent injury. Fortunately, he said, the Baltimore course and its fuel stations kept him motivated.
“My goal for the race changed to eating everything at all the aid stations. I had chips, pretzels, gels, candy and my personal favorite, granola bars,” Ryberg said.
For Ryberg, who had been training since late May, the Baltimore Zoo was the highlight of his marathon.
“The zookeepers brought out some birds, including a tropical one, a penguin and of course, the raven,” he said.
The Baltimore Marathon attracted all sorts of runners participating for many different reasons.
The website identifies of number of feature participants, including Keith L., also known as “Sandal Man,” who participated with a goal to set the world record for the fastest marathon run in flip-flops.
Even Hopkins students who did not participate in the races contributed to the Baltimore Running Festival in some capacity.
According to Janet Novak, the Baltimore Marathon Volunteer Director, several Hopkins students volunteered.
“Hopkins students somehow get the word and show up, and they’re great,” Novak said. “Kudos to the students there.”