Large field will strain security, traffic

October 14, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

The largest field in the history of the old Maryland Marathon was 3,300. The inaugural Baltimore Marathon Festival could attract double that number of entrants before Internet registration is complete, and with so many rookies running or walking for a charity, the city has planned for a number of prolonged street closures and warned motorists to expect delays.

The finish line will still be operating at 4:30 p.m., eight hours after the start of the marathon. That accommodates those who maintain an 18-minute-per-mile pace, little more than a brisk walk. When the leaders return to PSINet Stadium, those at the back of the pack won't even have reached the eight-mile mark on Parkside Drive in Northeast Baltimore, and such a strung-out mass will strain security.

"Those who aren't on that pace [18 minutes per mile] by the halfway point will be instructed that they're on their own," said Paul Sheppard, a lieutenant in the city police's traffic section. "They've got the right to keep running, but there will be no traffic control."

As gaps open in the field, traffic on routes that cross the course will be allowed through.

Lt. Sheppard said that the police department will have 300 employees managing the course, from the Special Traffic Officers unit to about 135 recruits from the police academy. That force will be supplemented by more than 50 Department of Public Works employees.

"We have to buy more traffic cones," DPW spokesman Robert Murrow said.

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