Thanks once again for making the 12th Annual Baltimore Running Festival a huge success. We had our largest field of runners ever and we were able to help generate an event record of more than $1.7 million for charities who participated in the race day activities.
While there are many successes that we can point to, we know that we also had some shortcomings that we intend to fix in the future. Your participation in the post-race survey often helps us to see areas that we need to improve on and this year is no different. After reviewing the constructive criticisms in the survey we have identified the following areas that we will correct for next year.
LIMITING THE FIELD SIZES: At this point we feel that we have reached our capacity in all races and will limit the number of participants in each. Our focus in 2013 will be to provide the very best experience for our runners operationally and logistically speaking. Next year's race fields will be limited to the following:
FULL MARATHON: 4,000 runners
TEAM RELAY: 1,200 teams
HALF- MARATHON: 11,000 runners
5K RACE: 4,200 runners
KIDS FUN RUN: 600 runners
In some cases these numbers represent a decrease in the field size; in others, just holding pat. Ultimately, we want to assure that we are able to focus on the personal experience of each and every runner and limiting the field size will help us to do that.
IMPROVED FINISH LINE LAYOUT: While we believe the limited field sizes will help in this area as well, we do plan to make further adjustments to the finish line shoot area. As already reported, we experienced significant lines in our Runners Village just beyond the finish line. To address the challenge in 2013, our plans include:
- Extend the length of the finish line shoots
- Widen the chute area
- Create more lanes for runners to pass thru
- Place the medals at the opposite side of the lines just before they exit
(runners will still have immediate access to water and Gatorade)
5K MEDALS & OTHER IMPROVEMENTS: In 2013, we will begin distributing medals for 5K participants. This will make us one of the only 5k races that honor our runners in this way and we are excited to do so. With our multi-race festival concept and our "City for Everyone. A Race for Everyone". event slogan we want every one of our participants to be able to proudly display a medal that they worked hard to earn.
We will be making additional changes to the 5K including a hard time limit of one-hour to complete the 3.1 mile course. However, we will allow walkers who are not at the Mile 1 marker after 40 minutes to take a shorter route (about 2 miles) to help them attempt to cross the finish line and earn a medal prior to the time limit. This change will allow us the needed time to change our focus toward the Kids Fun Run and other races and address safety concerns with the Wheelchair Marathon participants who often finish by 9:30 am.
TEAM RELAY IMPROVEMENTS: As we have previously addresses, we unfortunately had issues with our relay buses as they took the wrong route and at one point crossed the 5K course itself. Some runners also experienced unacceptable delays in being returned to the stadium once their leg was complete. Ultimately, we concluded it was a communications breakdown that can be resolved next year by:
- Better communicating in advance with the police and bus company in regard to which routes to take from M&T Bank Stadium to the relay exchange points
- Supervisors on site on race day from the bus company who can communicate with the bus drivers in a more effective manner in case buses need to be diverted to a different location at any given time
- Assign a Team Relay liaison volunteer to direct runners where to go once they've completed their leg and are back at the stadium.
THE MERGE & COMBINED FINISH LINE: This is an area we monitor very closely each and every year. Once again we believe the limited field sizes and adjustments to the finish line area will help alleviate many of the concerns that some runners have mentioned. It is also important to note that 72.5% of those who completed the survey say that the merge did not affect them, including 21.9% who say the merge had a positive effect on their run. That being said, we will continue to look at ways to improve the merge and the combined finish line to make it more enjoyable for everyone.
PLEASE NOTE : Many runners point to other races that have a combined start line for the full and half marathon distances. While this is an option we have looked at, we have several reasons for doing what we do. For one, adding 11,000 runners to the morning commute as well as the start line area would cause for some major traffic concerns. Also, the logistics of our urban city course would force us to finish the half-marathon in the Inner Harbor. This would cause additional logistical issues and pull away from the excitement at the current finish line. Further, as one of only a handful of races that enjoy live race day television coverage, it is important to us and our television partner that the first person who crosses the finish line be a full marathon runner.
Once again we appreciate you caring enough about the future success of our event and taking the time to complete our survey. We do have some other things in the works for 2013 including plans to switch to a new online registration platform (RaceIt.com) and exploring alternate expo venues and hours. We will report on these as information becomes available. In the meantime, we encourage you to check our website and facebook page for further updates and the announcement of the opening of registration for our event on October 12, 2013!
Lee Corrigan and the Corrigan Sports Team