Ready, Set, Run!

Challenge : Thousands primed to go the distance at inaugural event

Baltimore Marathon

Special Pullout Section

October 18, 2001|By Helen B. Jones

THE date that thousands of runners have long awaited is finally here. The inaugural Baltimore Marathon hits the streets at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Not since the old Maryland Marathon fizzled out in the late 1980s has there been a major race of 26.2 miles through the streets of Baltimore. And unlike that bygone race, the Baltimore Marathon's course is entirely within the city limits.

Though its rolling course has been called "tough" and "challenging" by many who've made practice runs on it, the Comcast-sponsored marathon has nonetheless drawn many more entrants than its organizers had dreamed of.

"You'll be lucky to get 2,500 people in a first marathon," skeptics warned Boo and Lee Corrigan, the brother-owners of Corrigan Sports Enterprises, the management company for the marathon.

"But we felt we could get at least 4,000," says Boo. And thanks to word of mouth, they did -- and then some. At press time, more than 6,400 people had signed up to run the full marathon. And registration is open till 9 p.m. tomorrow, so who knows? (The marathon's Geico Direct relay race closed registration a while back with 1,600 entrants.)

Though the course will no doubt sorely test many runners, the folks who planned it didn't have an easy time themselves. The Corrigan brothers and race director Dave Cooley considered 17 different courses before settling on the chosen one -- a counterclockwise loop of Baltimore City beginning and ending at PSINet Stadium.

The challenge was that Baltimore is only seven to eight miles from north to south, says Boo. And finding east-west streets that were long enough was tough also.

But the job got done, the buzz got louder each month since the marathon was announced last March, and now it's nearly race day.

Time for some interesting facts about the inaugural Baltimore Marathon:

* Runners are coming from as far away as England, Scotland and Kenya.

* 45 of the 50 states will be represented. (Call your cousins in Montana, Utah, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota and tell them to get here posthaste.)

* The marathon is the nation's 13th largest in number of participants.

* The top male and female finishers will get $3,000 each. The total prize purse is $24,000.

* The T-shirts given to all runners depict an American flag on the back.

* Various high-school bands will be scattered throughout the course to give runners a lift. (Does anyone know Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"?)

The complete name of the marathon is the Baltimore Marathon Festival, and that means opportunities for fun will be plentiful -- for runners, their families and the general public. A concert by Unprovoked Moose Attack or Betty in Black, anyone?

While the runners are out doing their thing on Saturday, everyone else in the city can enjoy band music, Ravens interactive games, and food and drink at the Comcast Village Celebration at the stadium. Runners can join the festivities when they get back, if they have legs to stand on.

The three-day festival begins today at 11 a.m. with the opening of the Aetna Health & Fitness Expo at PSINet Stadium and ends with the race-awards ceremony Saturday evening, also at the stadium.

On the eve of the marathon, you smart runners out there will take a sensible, last-day-before-a-hard-race approach to the fun -- such as simply going to the expo and getting last-minute marathon tips from running experts, and buying all sorts of dynamite-looking running gear that you may or may not need. You may also want to attend the Marathon Pasta Party from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at PSINet Stadium.

After carbo-loading at the party, you'll want to call it a night, go home or back to your hotel room and -- before settling down to sleep -- reread all the incredibly useful information in this pullout section.

On Saturday morning, wake up fully rested and full of facts that can help breeze you through the first Baltimore Marathon.

May the best man / woman win!

A STREET-BY-STREET GUIDE TO THE ROUTE

Start on Russell Street, near PSINet Stadium. Run north to Pratt Street, right turn (RT)

1 mile at Pratt and South Street

Follow Pratt east to President Street (RT)

Follow President south to Fleet Street (LT)

2 miles at Fleet and Bethel Street

Follow Fleet Street east to Boston Street (RT)

3 miles at Boston and just before Kenwood Avenue

Follow Boston Street southeast to Linwood Avenue (LT)

4 miles at 200 block of Linwood at Pratt Street, next to Patterson Park

Follow Linwood (or the park route) to Baltimore Street (RT)

Follow Baltimore Street east to Highland Avenue (LT)

Follow Highland north to a LT onto Madison Street

5 miles at Highland and Madison (on Madison after the turn)

Follow Madison to Edison Highway (RT)

6 miles at 1825 Edison (before Sinclair Lane)

Follow Edison north to Erdman Avenue

Cross Erdman and continue onto Mannasota Avenue

7 miles at Mannasota and Shannon Drive (4100 block of Mannasota)

Follow Mannasota to Parkside Drive (LT)

Continue on Parkside to Walther Boulevard (cross Belair Road)

8 miles at 3106 Parkside (just before Walther)

Turn right onto Walther

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