Runners go far to leg it out

Today's marathon gives those in field a chance to meet a challenge

Relay lends another opportunity

First-place prize of $3,000 also will be up for grabs

Baltimore Marathon

October 19, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

There are nearly as many motivational factors as there are participants in today's second annual Baltimore Running Festival.

There's a $3,000 cash prize for the winners in Baltimore's Comcast Marathon. When defending women's champion Elvira Kolpakova toes the starting line at 8 a.m., it will be another day on the job.

Like the guy who first scaled Mount Everest, some will do it for the personal challenge. Michael Wyatt will run 26.2 miles to celebrate the health of his son, and Brian Cummings will do 6.4 miles because three dozen people in his office are participating in the Geico Direct Team Relay.

Cummings doesn't expect his foursome from the sales division at Under Armour to challenge for the corporate cup that is at stake in the team relay.

He was used to shorter bursts when he ran a multiple offense as the quarterback at the University of Maryland from 1995 to '97. When he was a sophomore and led the Terps to a 4-0 start, one of the blocking backs was Kevin Plank, the president of Under Armour who is now his boss.

Under Armour, a major success story in the sports apparel business, is headquartered at Tide Point, near the midway mark of the marathon.

"We've got about 160 employees there, and nearly a quarter of them will be in the team relay," Plank said.

"We've got teams from accounting, marketing, sales, everyone found a common link and went with it. I did the 4.2-mile leg last year, and I'm stepping up to the second leg [7.9 miles] this year. It's going to take me an hour, but that's not the point of this event. The community is."

When he was a special teams captain for the Terps, Plank weighed nearly 240 pounds. Now he's closer to 220, and logging 20 miles in a good week.

Wyatt, 38, played some football and recreational lacrosse when he went to Loyola High. He turned to running a few years ago, and finished last year's marathon in 4 hours, 3 minutes, 45 seconds, a respectable 9:18 pace. This year's preparation took on an additional component on Easter Sunday, when his 2-year-old son, Matthew, was hospitalized with a rare neurological disorder.

"My wife Courtney and I were frightened to death," Wyatt said.

"He spent a week at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but a few weeks later the specialists there determined that he was fully recovered. My training's always fun, but knowing that I'm doing it for a cause made this year so much more spectacular."

Wyatt is among the top fund-racers in the Hopkins Heroes program, as he raised more than $5,300 from friends and extended family to go to the hospital's children's center.

He will head up Paca Street with the crowd attempting to break 3:30.

The Fila 5K starts at 8:30 a.m., and the CitiFinancial Kids' Fun Run commences at 9:20 a.m.

At a glance

What:Baltimore Running Festival

When:Today. Marathon and marathon team relay at 8 a.m.; 5K at 8:30 a.m.; Kids Fun Run at 9:20 a.m.

Where:Start and finish at staging area between Oriole Park and Ravens Stadium.

Entrants:About 2,800 for marathon; 7,000 anticipated for all four events.

TV:Ch. 11 (6-11 a.m.)

Information:Call 410-605-9381 or 800-487-0670, or visit the Internet site

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