I had the distinct pleasure of running the inaugural Maryland Half Marathon last week, May 31, 2009. I will say, I liked the race though the hills made a tad challenging but overall it was a pretty good event; very well organized and raised over $100,000 for the University of Maryland Greenbaum Cancer Center. Good chance I will run it again next year with the hopes of doing some actual fund raising.
Here are some things that stuck out as I ran merrily along:
“Can’t Emphasize Enough…”
As I was getting myself ready to head out the door, I decided to check the weather forecast on WBAL’s 24-hour weather channel. I wanted to see if the rain that was falling was going to move out by race time. As I watched the rain gently fall, WBAL’s WeatherBoy was saying that there was “a slight, slight chance, I can’t emphasize enough how slight it is, of some rain this morning.” By the time I pulled into the Maryland State Fairgrounds, that “slight, slight” chance was pretty much a certainty and a deluge.
I will give him credit; it did stop by race time and actually became sunny and warm by the finish. The weather was pretty perfect for a run.
Games People Play
The course is a loop that starts and finishes at the fairgrounds, running through Baltimore County. The first part of the race heads out of the fairgrounds and turns right onto Timonium Road. Right after mile one the course turns right onto Jenifer Road through mile two and then turns onto May Chapel for a picturesque jaunt through the Baltimore Country Club at Five Farms.
The spectators along the course were great! They were very supportive, shouting words of encouragement and handing out Swedish Fish. Right around mile two, at the bottom of a hill a very nice family brought out speakers to play motivating 70’s disco music for us. The song, Games People Play by The Spinners was blasting away as I ran by. By mile three, I was wishing for an ice pick to jab in my ear. The Spinners? Luckily, the water stop between miles three and four had a very badly needed porta john and the song left me with the morning’s Gatorade. A welcome relief, for both.
Filthy Stinking Liars
We jumped back onto Timonium off of Seminary towards the turnaround at mile six, by Joppa Road. As the course winds its way back to the fairgrounds there are two large hills, “The Hill That Wouldn’t Quit” (a.k.a. Thorton Hill) and his brother, “The Hill That Wouldn’t Quit, Either” with a bunch of “Me Too!” cousin hills. It got a little challenging along the way.
As I said above, the spectators were very supportive. But I do have a bone to pick. The top of the hill is not “just around the corner” and it is not “all downhill from here.” I know you are trying to be supportive but please, when I turn the corner and see just more hill, or a great downhill followed by a Mt. Everest climb, it doesn’t motivate. It just pisses me off and makes me call you a filthy, stinking liar and other choice words.
The Home Stretch
The finish was great. The final mile follows Aylesbury Road to cross Timonium Road and back into the fairgrounds. The last quarter mile-ish is on the horse track, finishing right in front of the grand stand. The sand was wet so it was a little like running on the beach but after first running almost thirteen miles of hills. A little challenging but the people lining the track and the crowd at the finish helped you along.
Overall, the race was pretty good for its first year. They were very organized and had ample food and drink at the end. I wouldn’t want to have that as a front or back end to a full but for a half marathon, it is a nice, challenging run.