Thursday, October 9, 2008
Well, I honestly can't believe that I'm going to run this thing. The past week has been absolutely nuts work-wise, with several nights of working into the wee hours of the morning. Yet, I planned this marathon around a trip with the family to visit an old college friend and her family, so, it is what it is and I'm going to run it, which in turn obligates me to write a very brief race preview of this weekend's Baltimore Marathon.
2008 marks the 8th running of the Baltimore Marathon (there is also a marathon relay, half-marathon and 5k). Over 17,000 runners are expected to participate this year (combined).
The course starts out from the Camden Yards complex northwest of the city for 7 or so miles with some elevation gain and parks before returning to the inner harbor. The course route visits Fort McHenry National Monument Historic Shrine, as well as several scenic parks and the famed Inner Harbor. The course hugs the harbor to the east, out to the famous Fells Point area and heads north again for the final 10 miles. To finish, race comes down hill into the city for a fast finish dramatic finish through Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
There are plenty of viewing areas for family and friends to watch runners. The race also features so-called "themed miles", such as "The Babe Ruth Mile", "The Preakness Mile", "That's Italian Mile", "The Johnny Unitas Mile", "The Cal Ripken Mile", and "The Star Spangled Banner Mile".
Course Elevation Profile
There may be a little confusion when it comes to the half-marathon start, and how it interjects runners into the marathon. The starting line for the half-marathon is at the 13-mile mark of the full marathon. The half-marathon will split from the marathon at some point, only to re-join the marathon to the finish line. This could make for some interesting traffic.
This year's event will feature a relatively new timing system. The new system, which replaces ChampionChip, will utilize a light-weight disposable timing tag, called a "D-tag". The D-tag also offers runners a more streamlined race experience than the traditional chip system. D-tags are attached to participant bib and clearly marked with the corresponding bib number. Unlike traditional chips, the D-tag will not need to be scanned, making the packet pick-up process quicker than ever before. On race day, runners simply secure the D-tag through their shoelaces and they are ready to run. After crossing the finish, runners do not need to return the tag and can dispose of it at their convenience.