I returned to the Baltimore Marathon this year with my race wife, Amy, and a whole passel of friends since the race would officially be a 50 State Marathon Club reunion location. The only thing notable about our outbound journey is that I was for the first time in forever super early to my flight due to my dumbphone experiment, and thus was able to hang out in the terminal where we saw a guy apparently practicing his juggling before boarding the flight. Stay weird Fort Lauderdale.
Anyway, we arrived and went quickly to our hotel and started sorting out what the day would bring. The half was starting almost 2 hours after the marathon presenting a rare opportunity for me to run with Amy in the last few miles. So while it was inconvenient in the morning, it was kind of cool toward the end. I picked up our bibs from Kinnier and Jennifer, who were staying a few blocks away, said I’d look for them at the start, and jaunted back to our hotel to drop off Amy’s bib.
Once I reached the start line I saw lots of 50 staters. Another Amy from Texas, Christelle, aka Smiley from North Carolina, and Mark from California, who was completing his 48th state. Ed and Ken were settled in with the 4:45 pace group, and Johnathan and Georges. I started with Georges and Johnathan and chatted for a couple miles before Kinnier and Jennifer found me near the zoo at mile 3ish. I stayed with them and we talked about their charity marathon coaching work with T2, Team to End AIDS, and travel plans. The conversation eased the very hilly miles of Baltimore, but by around 15 I started to lag behind as we joined the back of the half marathon. I was keeping my eyes open for Amy, and ultimately found her just after mile 19. She had met a friend and I joined them on the long slog around Lake Montebello, and up the accompanying hill.
Soon Mark came upon us and Amy told me to go on, so for the last 5 miles or so was able to catch up on his progress through the states since I first met him in May at Martha’s Vineyard. He would be doing Indianapolis Monumental for his 49th state, and I will be there, and Honolulu in December for number 50, where I will sadly not be. We crossed the finish and hung out for a bit as I waited for Amy to join us. Several others met us in the corrals, and eventually I made the long slog to the beer area (why is the beer so far away?) I came back to meet Amy for some final photos before we picked up her bag from our hotel and began our drive to Atlantic City for the next day’s races.
I have to say that much like Scranton, Baltimore has a reputation, and for sure there are plenty of folks here who have hard lives, but the people really do have some pride in their city and their communities. They come out and cheer for total strangers, hand out water, and generally support the runners. It is this sort of civic pride that makes a great race in my opinion. Fun Fact: The USS Constellation, in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and pictured above, is the last U.S. Civil War vessel afloat.