More than a Marathon

by Mark Hallinger, Editor

Baltimore Marathon

With five race distances, team racing, and even a .05 K race for grins and charity, there really is something for everybody at one of the best race days on the East Coast

The 17th Baltimore Running Festival set for Oct. 20, 2018, has all the standard race distances with a marathon, half marathon and a 5K. It also has some truly interesting races including a team race, the wonderfully named two-event BaltiMORON-a-thon for those who like to follow a 5K with a half marathon less than two hours later, and a .05 K run for charity that’s got prizes for the best costumes.

As far as memorable experiences go, the races now finish at Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor, with wonderful scenery paired with some challenging courses to really make an athlete’s accomplishment shine. The SWAG is also top-knotch, with all runners snagging a great Under Armour shirt for participating, and some of the coolest race medals ever seen.

The marathon

The big event features a course described by the organizers as ‘fair yet challenging.’ It travels through many diverse neighborhoods in Baltimore, including the scenic Inner Harbor waterfront area, historic Federal Hill, charming Fells Point, and right through the Maryland Zoo.

Beyond the scenery, miles 16-20 of the route have been compared to Boston’s famed “Heartbreak Hill,” but runners are then rewarded with a loop around Lake Montebello which provides some relief and flat terrain. The final 5 miles are mostly downhill and filled with friendly spectators who really get in to the day and support the runners. Then it’s a left turn onto Pratt Street to a finish in the shadow of the USS Constellation, and a celebration of the run along the waterfront promenade through McKeldin Square, West Shore Park and Rash Field.

The ‘Baltimore Crab Medal’ is back again, and this year includes a view of the Inner Harbor from Federal Hill. This historic landmark was used and fortified as a fort with heavy artillery during the Civil War, and those who receive the medal will be amazed when they open the face of the hardware and see the extreme detail captured in the image. It’s a worthy keepsake to commemorate an awesome accomplishment.


The half-marathon start line is a party on the shores of the Inner Harbor, the 13-mile mark of the marathon. Complete with a live band and thousands of people, this unique set up allows for the fastest marathoners and those attempting to qualify for Boston to pass, and assures that the marathon champion will be the first to cross the finish line for the live television coverage on WBAL-TV. The half-marathon will split from the marathon at Pratt Street before merging again later, so marathoners and half-marathon participants will run the same course to the finish line.

The ShopRite 5K: A Medal & a Big Finish!

The 5K race, sponsored by ShopRite, has become the second largest race at the event in terms of participation, with many RunFest participants starting with the 5K one year and increasing their race distance the following year. It starts at the Inner Harbor, and the course is flat for those seeking personal best times. 5K finishers also enjoy the same amazing home stretch along Pratt Street and finishes at the same finish line as the other race distances near McKeldin Square. It will be a big experience.

5K finishers also receive a finisher medal, just like all the other race distance finishers. This isn’t always the case with 5Ks, but it fits with the event’s multi-race festival concept and its “City for Everyone. A Race for Everyone,” event slogan.

Baltimore Marathon

What’s a BaltiMORON-a-thon?

The BaltiMORON-a-thon is simple: Runners complete both the 5K and the Half-Marathon on the same day. It’s simple but not easy, as the 5K starts at 7:30AM and the half marathon at 9:45AM. The start lines are at the same location for each race.

The promoters say the event is aimed at verifying that we are a little crazy when it comes to running. The event’s website says “We all have non-running friends who think that runners are a little off. They can’t understand why you do it and might event even call you names behind your back. Runners, on the other hand, KNOW they are a little crazy and are proud to boast about it!”

But the dual-race event is more than just a way for crazies to get their kicks while poking a little fun at the fact that most people think they are nuts, it’s got a unique medal and participants get two shirts in the deal! Runners also get a special bib, and the special Balti-Moron medal features a bit of classic Baltimore ‘Hon,’ as in Honey, culture.

Runners also get the 5K and half-marathon medals and, and a savings of up to $5 versus registering for the races separately. And they get to be called a BaltiMORON! For those who are really fast, know that a prize will be awarded for the 1st place overall male & female Baltimoron-a-thon registrant, based on combined finishing chip time in the 5K & Half. Registered participants are also eligible for overall awards and age group awards in the individual events.

If you’re already registered for one event and want to add the second event and strive toward being a BaltiMORON, see the event website.

Team Running!

One of the more popular races of the Baltimore Running Festival is the team relay. Running the same course as the marathoners, the team relay consists of four participants per team with each runner selecting a portion of the marathon course to run. The legs vary in length from 5.9 to 7.1 miles.

Each relay team will be issued four bibs with an identical number and ONE D-Tag and a Velcro strap. Runners are to pass the velcro strap and D-Tag with its timing responder to their teammates at the exchange points.

The first runner (Leg #1) will start with the marathon field — there is not a separate start for the Relay Teams. The other three team members will need to be at their exchange zone well before the fastest runners pass by, as area roads will close. Transportation is available to and from the exchange sites.

Each relay runner will pass the Velcro band to the next relay runner at the relay exchange point. Depending on the exchange location, timing mats may be located before or after the exchange area.

About that .05K

The Baltimore Running Festival has long prided itself in having a race for everyone. For years we have had races for young and old and distances for walkers to elite athletes. Once again this year we will include the .05k as part of the Race Week festivities, in partnership with 98Rock and its partners.

This 98Rock sponsored event will kick of the weekend celebration on Thursday, Oct.18, and add a race distance that truly everyone can complete. Festivities at GAME Sports Bar will kick off at 6pm with the race starting at 8pm. All proceeds from the $15 entry fee will go to benefit the

One Love Foundation. Prizes will be given for best costumes and other categories.

And more…

What else? We’d be remiss in not mentioning the organizers other event, the Frederick Running Festival, set for May, 2019. Next year, think about ‘doing the double,’ at the two events. More than 7,000 runners have registered to “do the Double” since its inception in 2007, competing in a distance event at both the Frederick Running Festival and the Baltimore Running Festival.

Runners who complete half marathon races (or longer) in both events in the same calendar year receive a special third medal at the Baltimore Running Festival. Registering for the Maryland Double is easy, and you get a discount too. There’s also a ‘King Crab Challenge,’ for those runners who complete the half marathon at the Frederick Running Festival, the Baltimore 10-Miler and the full or half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival.

Mark HallingerMark Hallinger, Editor is a 35+ year cyclist who has raced road, track, crits, cross, a bit of mountain bike, and even his Brompton. He’s also a commuter, randonneur, mechanic, cycling advocate, and vintage collector. He blogs at