Approximately 27,000 runners took to the streets of downtown Baltimore last Saturday, as the Baltimore Running Festival celebrated its 13th year in the city. Many Hopkins students participated in the festival, which featured a 5K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Team Relay and Kids Fun Run.
The festival’s participants this year did not run for any monetary reward due to Under Armor not renewing its title sponsorship this past August. This sponsorship would have provided a total of $127,400 in prize money for the races.
For junior Payton Clover, the Baltimore Running Festival was her first marathon experience.
“It was so inspirational to see such a diverse city unite for an event. Even though I’ll be avoiding the stairs at all costs for the next week, the sense of accomplishment I felt at the finish line was worth it,” Clover said.
Clover ran the full marathon, a 26 mile track that winds through Fells Point, the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill.
David Berdan won this year’s marathon in 2:30:05, breaking a finish line tape held by Boston Marathon bombing survivor Erika Brannock. Brannock spent 50 days in the hospital and received a prosthetic leg after being injured in the Boston marathon terrorist attack earlier this year.
Sophomore Cara Schulte also ran the full marathon, winning her age division for the event.
“This was my second year running the Baltimore Marathon. I thought the rain might affect the spirit of the race, but fans were lining the streets decked out in Orioles, Ravens and Natty Boh gear from Camden Yards to Druid Lake. If anything, the weather made people more excited and proud to accomplish what is already an incredible feat,” Schulte said.
For most runners, the enthusiasm and encouragement of marathon spectators is what makes the event so special.
“The atmosphere was absolutely electric. I can’t tell you how many high fives I received from complete strangers; the people along the route kept me going — even though it was tough,” junior Alyssa Tethal, who participated in the half-marathon, said.
Tethal is already planning on running next year.
“I know this will be an event I will continue to do as long as I’m at Hopkins,” Tethal said.
Phillip Carr was one of the many fans in Saturday’s marathon crowd. A California native, it was his first time attending the Baltimore Running Festival.
“I came to Baltimore to visit my sister, and we ended up going together. She said it’s something you have to do if you live here,” Carr said.
Carr is not a runner, but an avid golfer.
“I have a-lot of respect for these people; I can’t imagine the dedication it takes to do these things. I was just high-fiving people left and right, ‘cause I know I could never do that,” Carr said.
Carr’s sister, Michelle Buige, is currently training for next year’s half-marathon.
“I’ve watched it so many times, I really want to participate in it next year,” Buige said.
A retired school-teacher, Buige has been supporting runners since the festival first began.
“The running festival is a time for us to come together and support the people of this marvelously diverse city. It is incredibly important to me,” Buige said.
While they may not be aware of it, spectators like Carr and Buige provide more than just support for the marathon runners — they also serve as a diversion from the physical challenge of the marathon itself, Hopkins junior Beril Polat explained.
“I was observing people a lot while I was running because there was nothing else to distract myself from the distance I still had left,” the Polat said.
Junior Alison Burklund felt the same way.
“The smallest things somehow held this new level of significance. I searched for anything to get my mind off the pain, anything to keep me moving toward the finish line,” Burklund said. “The people around me became a source of inspiration.”
When runners finished the race, they were greeted by friends, family and neighbors at Celebration Village, the location of the Baltimore Marathon award ceremony and live music venue.
“Running a marathon isn’t something you wake up one morning and decide to do: its something that takes miles of training and dedication. It was an amazing feeling to have that all pay off on race day,” Clover said.
Junior Sam Romanoff felt the same way when he watched other runners complete the marathon.
“I had some friends who completed it as well and seeing them cross the line was so exciting and fulfilling. I loved it,” Romanoff said.