Baltimore Marathon takes low road in '02

Course changes knock off toughest hills, Roland Park


May 14, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Roland Park is out.

South Baltimore is in.

On Oct. 19, the second installment of the Baltimore Marathon Festival will follow a flatter course than was used for last year's inaugural event. What were some of the course's more scenic neighborhoods have been dropped, but the payoff is the elimination of the climbs up Walther Avenue and Northern Parkway that turned off many in the 2001 field.

The president of the firm that manages the event for the city said that the changes for the 26.2-mile footrace were completed last month.


"Last year's course was clearly more difficult than we would have liked," said Lee Corrigan, the president of Corrigan Sports Enterprises. "A guy came up to me at the Las Vegas Expo in February and said, `I've run 100 marathons, and yours was the toughest.' Even the pros thought it was extremely difficult.

"We got a couple of hundred responses about last year's course, and only a few asked us not to change. They wore finishing the Baltimore Marathon course as a medal of honor, but to survive as an event we've got to get the numbers."

Five men broke two hours, 30 minutes, and four women broke three hours last October, when the marathon festival drew 10,000 entrants. Corrigan said the goal this year is 12,000, for four events. In addition to the Comcast Baltimore Marathon, GEICO Direct Team Relay and Fila 5K, the festival will add shorter fun runs for children ages 6 to 12, with CitiFinancial as the corporate sponsor.

Last year's counterclockwise course began and finished at Ravens Stadium, and ventured east through Little Italy, north to Northern Parkway and then west to Roland Avenue, where elevations surpassed 400 feet.

The new course heads north to Druid Hill Park, then south on Falls Road, St. Paul Street and Hanover Street. After the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge (formerly the Hanover Street Bridge), runners will turn around at the 11-mile mark and head north on Key Highway to the Inner Harbor.

The course then moves east on Pratt and Eastern Avenues, then north on Linwood and Washington Streets through Clifton Park. The Alameda will take the field to 33rd Street, where runners will head west. Guilford and Howard Streets will move the field south to Martin Luther King Boulevard. The stretch run follows Pratt east to Eutaw, through Camden Yards.

"We tried everything possible to incorporate Roland Park, we just couldn't do it," Corrigan said. "The new one features more of Federal Hill, and is arguably twice as flat."

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