If you haven’t guessed already… I like saving money. I also like spending money on fun things like shoes and clothes, but I will go out of my way to spend as little as possible on everything (I sincerely hope that no one in my life would think of me as “cheap”, I just believe in getting the best deal possible and being responsible about money). This was kind of hard for me when I started racing because racing is EXPENSIVE. I love racing, so I’ve figured out a way to make it work in my budget… but I’ve got my eye out at races to make sure I’m getting my moneys worth. FOR example, you pay $40 for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington DC in the spring and you get no race medal and a crappy cotton t-shirt. I paid $25 to run the Charlottesville 10 Miler and I got a finishers medal and a Nike Dri-Fit technical tee. These are the kinds of things that jump out at me.
So here are my thoughts on the Baltimore Half Marathon including value for the money and logistics. (DISCLAIMER: I recognize how difficult putting races on is, so these comments are more meant to be constructive feedback as opposed to whiny criticism)
PRICE: $90 (plus $7 transaction fee to register online… get you every time!) I registered in August. If I had registered before April 1st it would have been $80
– Crowd Support: People of Baltimore… you rock. Much of the race was through neighborhoods around the city, which is my favorite (nothing worse than running on a freaking highway). There were SO many people out with signs, kids giving out candy, people playing music from the porches. Some favorites included the group of people in a neighborhood playing “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray, the two guys dancing on their car in tiger suits playing “Eye of the Tiger”, and the kids giving out candy corn on the longest hill of the race. Some of my favorites signed included: “If the marathon was easy, it would be called your mom” “Run a Marathon Today, Law & Order Marathon Tomorrow” and “JANICE – You forgot to sort the laundry” (<– that guy gets 10 points in my book for being hilarious). The crowds and the people are WHY I run races in different cities. Go Baltimore… you guys get an A+ on this one.
– Course Support: This was a big race but the volunteers / coordinators were on point the whole race. Plenty, plenty, plenty of water and Gatorade at every stop. I know most serious runners don’t drink as much as I do while racing, but dehydration is my #1 migraine trigger. After my first 10K, I got such a headache I took medicine and slept for 18 hours straight. I want to run a good race, but I always want to enjoy my life after. So I get water and gatorade at every station. The best part though was the HUGE fuel station they had set up at Lake Montebello. In addition to liquids they had mini Lara Bars, Power Bar Energy Bites, bananas, everything! I had my margarita shot blocks, so I just grabbed a mini Lara Bar for later. It was awesome. A+ for fuel.
– Swag: The shirt is a semi-fitted Under Armour short sleeve and it rocks. I got a women’s medium and it fits perfectly. That style shirt retails for about $47.99. The shirts are also different for marathon, half marathon, and team relay, which I like (different colors and the race distance was printed on the back). When I ran my marathon in the spring, it was the same shirt for the full and half and I felt kind of jipped. I wanted a MARATHON shirt so everyone would know how awesome I am when I wore it. The medals were also really sweet. There was a very cool crab cartoon printed on them. A+ for swag.
– Post Race Support: After runners finished they were funneled into a line to get space blankets, medals, water and Gatorade. I would’ve liked to have the water / Gatorade first because it took several minutes to get through the line (space blankets can be really difficult to pull off the roll quickly so that really clogged up the line). While they had bottled water available, the only Gatorade I saw was in cups. I took one cup but would’ve loved to have bottle Gatorade available to take with me. The food was pretty standard. No major complaints there. B for post race support.
– Expo Setup: The expo was at the M&T Bank Center and I literally felt like I walked around the entire concourse to get all my stuff. You got your bag when you walked in the stadium, then you went upstairs and all the way to the left to get your number, then you walked all the way back to the right to get your shirt. Just felt like the critical stuff could have been closer together. The vendors were ok but not the best selection I’ve ever seen (granted I did get there later on Friday evening so maybe there was more earlier). I didn’t see my favorite… Hippie Runner 😦 B- for expo setup.
– Transportation: Parking at the expo was no problem, but the way the races were set up (Marathon started at 8 am, Half at 9:45 am) meant if you were running the half, you needed to either drive in before the start of the marathon, or use public transportation. Not a HUGE deal, but Light Rail stations outside Baltimore are really not equipped to handle this number of people. The parking lots were full by 8 am and the only parking available was metered spots (there really isn’t a way to use a metered spot when you’re going into Baltimore to run a race). We ended up parking on the street several blocks from the Light Rail. We then waited in a long line to get tickets from the ticket machine (of COURSE a train came while we were in line… and then no one checked our tickets once on board BAH!). The trains were packed to say the least. At the end of the day, we got there and it was fine, but it wasn’t the best situation ever. B- for transportation.