Recap: Baltimore Running Festival

The Baltimore Running Festival took place this past weekend. It has always been one of my favorite events and one that has always meant a lot of me because it goes through my city and showcases some of the beautiful landmarks this city has to offer!

I signed up late to participate and decided to run with Back on My Feet – Baltimore. To run the half, it was an $80 race entry so the minimum for the charity was $215. I quickly raised my money and then got ready for race day.

The expo was held at the Baltimore Convention Center with free parking offered at Ravens stadium. Shuttle service was also provided for free. Major sponsors were Under Armour, Mazda and Pandora – all three had a major presence at all race activities.

I arrived around 5pm on Thursday so expo was a pretty calm experience for me. I walked in, got my bib and then headed into the event to pick up my premium and do a little shopping.

I was very proud of myself and walked past the really cute event clothes (CSE always does a good job with their race merchandise). Mazda was making custom shoe tags for runners, Pandora gave out headbands, Verizon had race day kits, and I believe one of the vendors was doing a free running analysis. Beecause Charms had crab shoe charms for purchase – it’s a Baltimore thing 🙂

After picking up my crab shoe charm (it was too cute to not get one), I stopped at the Falls Road Running booth to pick up my race fuel. Two of my favorites were working the booth so after a quick chat and purchase, I headed out so they could take care of their other customers.

On Friday, I volunteered at expo. It was a completely different experience from this side of the table. It was crazy! I don’t know if it was because I was there the night before the race or if people just waited to go to expo but it was intense!

I was assigned to hand out race premiums. It was very obvious that they were under-staffed in the shirt department. Empty boxes were everywhere and shirt sizes were not where they were supposed to be. I jumped in and started to organize the area a little better so the volunteers who were there could work more efficiently and move the runners along quicker.

I can’t stress enough how volunteers are truly the backbone of every race. It can’t happen without an army of volunteers. It really saddens me when I see an event understaffed. If you run, I think it is very important you volunteer at least one race – just so you can see how it is from the other side.

Now enough with expo, on to race day!

I arrived to Camden Yards around 6am on Saturday. My race didn’t start until 9:45 but I wanted to make sure I got a good parking spot around the stadium. After a quick walk around to get my bearings around the finisher village, I headed back to my car to nap until a little closer to my start time.

Around 8am, I emerged from my car and started to get myself ready for the race. I had my second breakfast, drank some water, and walked around the finisher village to try to adjust to the weather. It was a little chilly. I made one last stop at my car to drop off my layers and then headed to the start for the half.

I will not bore you with the details of the race or the thoughts going through my head during the course but I will give you the highlights:

—- while waiting to start I got to watch the marathons go past me in their 13th mile

—- around mile 2, 98 Rock was giving out Goetz caramels (yum!)

—- neighborhood support was just awesome – whether funny signs, cheers, beer, water, salty snacks or candy and high fives (or music!)

—- munchkin mile sponsored by Dunkin Donuts

—- beautiful city, great landmarks

—- medics, law enforcement, fire fighters, volunteers all along the course were just wonderful!

It was not an easy race for me. I fought for the finish. It was not a pretty race or a pretty finish but I finished.

My only real complaint for race day was they ran out of medals for the half finishers and when I finished, there wasn’t a lot of food available for me. CSE did quickly address the medal issue but getting a medal 2-3 weeks after a race isn’t exactly what finishers really want.

I also thought volunteer support at the finish was lacking. I don’t know if they were understaffed, if shifts were over so they left, or if volunteers didn’t know it was a long day and just walked away.

This race is definitely a great way to see the sights Baltimore has to offer. I highly recommend this race to any local or out of towner. I can promise I will be there volunteering next year hoping to make race day just a little bit better for someone, who like me, had to fight for their finish!


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