'04 prize money up to $100,000

Size of guaranteed purse places October marathon among top 10 in nation

Baltimore Running Festival

March 16, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's status on the American marathon calendar will improve nearly fourfold, as prize money in the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival on Oct. 16 will increase to $100,000.

This will be the fourth year for the festival. When Under Armour became the title sponsor last year, the total prize money was approximately $27,000.

The October marathon now will rank among the 10 largest guaranteed purses in the nation this year, according to statistics compiled by the Road Running Information Center, said Under Armour and Corrigan Sports Enterprises.

Two-time champions Erick Kimaiyo and Elvira Kolpakova earned $4,000 for their marathon victories here last year. This year, first-place money in the marathon will be at least $15,000.

"We've been talking about this since Under Armour came on board last year," said Lee Corrigan, the president of the company that manages the festival. "It's music to the ears of the festival, and to the city. The purse increase isn't necessarily going to attract more weekend warriors, but we should get more high-profile marathoners."

In eight years, Baltimore-based Under Armour has grown from a start-up company founded by former University of Maryland football walk-on Kevin Plank into an official supplier of performance apparel to Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the NHL.

Under Armour, which had sales of more than $115 million in 2003, has an agreement to sponsor the Baltimore Running Festival through 2005.

The festival's other backers will include CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which again will sponsor the half-marathon; Legg Mason Funds, now the title sponsor of the Team Relay; and Geico, which will back pace runners.

Fila's continued sponsorship of the 5K is uncertain, but Corrigan said he expects the company, which has its American headquarters in Sparks, to again supply marathon talent from its Discovery Kenya program.

Participation in the Team Relay dropped last year, when that event had a leg of more than 10 miles and serious runners willing to go that far stepped up to the inaugural half-marathon. This year, the Team Relay will consist of more balanced legs, ranging from just under six miles to just more than seven.

The marathon course followed three different paths in as many years, but the 2004 marathon will have only a few slight revisions.

Online registration for the festival can be done at thebaltimoremarathon.com.

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