By ABBY SHEGELMAN
For The News-Letter
The Baltimore Running Festival, which included a marathon, half-marathon, 5K and a Kids Fun Run, returned to the streets of the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill and Fells Point on Saturday for its 15th year. Many Hopkins students participated in the races.
One notable difference with this year’s event in comparison with those of the past was the number of runners who signed up. Numbers were down six percent from last year, most likely due to the April unrest, according to race organizer Lee Corrigan.
Sophomore Grant Shewmaker participated in the event.
“It was incredible to see the whole city come together. The love and support from the neighborhood families, volunteers and fellow runners was inspiring. It was an experience I’ll never forget!” Shewmaker wrote.
The marathon drew the most participants for the Running Festival and is the fastest-growing marathon in the United States.
Participants began at Camden Yards and ran through several neighborhoods before ending where they started.
Although the Baltimore Marathon is only 15 years old, Baltimore has featured other marathon races before, such as the Maryland Marathon, which was held from 1973 to 1980 and which evolved into the Baltimore City Marathon, held from 1981 to 1989.
Approximately 24,000 runners, hailing from all 50 states and representing 29 countries, attended the festival on Saturday.
The male marathon-winner Dan Berdan finished with a record-breaking time of 2:30:22. On WBAL Baltimore, he described his experience as encouraging and rewarding and said he signed up this year specifically in order to help shed a different better light on Baltimore.
“With everything that Baltimore is going through… This would just be a great thing for the city,” he said.
The female marathon winner Caitlin Gaughan finished with a time of 2:58:13.
Sophomore runner Jessica Kang recounted her experience in an email to The News-Letter: “The run felt a lot easier than I expected because everyone around me was really good. Everyone was super pumped up. Community members were sitting on chairs outside their homes cheering on runners,” Kang said.
Sophomore Sofia Schonenberg wrote in an email to The News-Letter that participating in the event gave her a sense of accomplishment.
“It felt really great to accomplish something I had been working towards for so long. Running such a long course, I saw and felt Baltimore on a raw level through its vibrant neighborhoods and energetic community in a way I wouldn’t have before,” she wrote. “I would definitely recommend this course to everyone, the support you receive from the city and its people is incredible.”
Freshman Samantha Getsin, a spectator, found the event inspiring.
“I love the atmosphere. I want to start training so I can be a part of something this special,” Getsin said in an email to The News-Letter.
According to Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, the Baltimore Police Department had not anticipated any threats to the event. Officers were stationed around the city to direct traffic and protect runners. Both runners and onlookers were extremely cooperative, according to authorities.
Some runners stood out, such as Michelle Prieto. According to a WBAL-TV article, Prieto has been running in the Baltimore marathon since its establishment 15 years ago. She said that she remembers her first time running in the running festival clearly.
“I very vividly remember a woman standing on her steps in west Baltimore singing the national anthem, and it was just beautiful,” she said.
According to Prieto, that sense of pride and unity was echoed in this year’s marathon as well.
According to a Baltimore Sun article, Sid Busch, a 69-year-old Navy veteran from South Carolina, was the last person to finish the race.
Saturday’s race was his 200th career marathon. He ran the 26.2 mile course in honor of American soldiers who perished in battle, with their pictures taped to his back, and finished the last mile with a police escort. The police escort, according to The Sun, was completely spontaneous as the off-duty police officers jumped in to take him to the finish line.
Sophomore Naomi Rodgers, who ran the half-marathon, wrote about her experience in an email to The News-Letter.
“There were people from all walks of life, from eight-year-old girls to men outside the rescue mission, and everyone was so encouraging and enthusiastic!” she wrote. “I got to see parts of Baltimore I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to do it again!” she wrote. “The best part was the energy all along the course from people who came out to cheer.”