Marathon back in training mode

Course changes already one of discussion points for 2002 Baltimore race


October 22, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

When British decathlete Daley Thompson repeated as Olympic champion at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, his victory-lap attire included a T-shirt that read: "Thanks America for a good games and a great time, but what about the TV coverage" - a dig at ABC.

In similar fashion, the organizers of Saturday's inaugural Baltimore Marathon Festival received this response: "Thanks for a good atmosphere and a great party, but what about the hills."

Corrigan Sports Enterprises has a three-year contract with the city to manage the marathon, and it includes an option on a pair of two-year extensions. Year 2 of the Baltimore Marathon Festival will be conducted on a Saturday in October 2002 - a date will be nailed down after Ravens road dates are announced - and before then CSE will examine every facet of the event, including the course.


Kenyan Luka Cherono said that he will defend his title, and he seemed a bit sheepish about his winning time of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 46 seconds.

Cherono said he was in 2:15 shape. Several other top men said that they were off their target times by four minutes or more, and if the course challenged the 80-mile-a-week crowd, think what it did to those with less experience. Mary Baker, a nurse at Johns Hopkins who was a half-hour behind her goal of five hours, said it seemed like she "spent 90 percent of the course going uphill."

Lee Corrigan, who with his cousin, Boo, runs CSE, said the course will be reviewed and possibly changed. Race director Dave Cooley said that there are typically 12 to 15 percent no-shows in a marathon. There were 6,500 entrants in the marathon and approximately 4,800 finishers, and the consensus was that runners did not want a second dose of a series of hills on Walther Avenue and Northern Parkway.

One option would be to ditch the hills to the north and Druid Hill Park and try a figure-eight course that still starts and finishes at PSINet Stadium.

It could keep the current course's first seven miles, but then incorporate 33rd and Charles streets; a second pass through the Inner Harbor; South Baltimore and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Hanover Street) Bridge; Waterview Avenue along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, one of the city's most underused recreational areas; and Carroll Park - areas with little testy elevation.

The marathon was a learning experience all around. The police and Department of Public Works faced one of the most difficult logistical tasks the city has ever faced. There were the expected complaints from irate motorists, and just as many from four-hour marathoners who paid a $65 entry fee and were stopped for crossing traffic.

Boo Corrigan said that CSE spent $65,000 on police overtime and other security measures. He said that city charities will receive a minimum of $30,000 under the profit-sharing agreement with CSE.

The GEICO Direct Team Relay will grow beyond 400 teams. Fila has a three-year deal to sponsor the 5K, and Comcast will decide if it wants to extend its sponsorship of the marathon beyond the inaugural.

"We talked to all of our sponsors afterward," Boo Corrigan said. "They all said, `We want to do more.' Boosting the prize money [$3,000 for first] is one of the things we'll think about, but we feel legitimate with a 2:19 winner."

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