The Baltimore Running Festival is perhaps the most spectator-friendly venue of all major marathons for casual walkers in the United States.
Here is how I do it by foot:
A) The marathon start – The starting line is very crowded, and very difficult to pick out a face in the crowd. In order to allow the runners to get some separation, I walk up Paca Street to Fayette. This allows the runners to get some separation. I recommend standing on the east side of Paca and planning for your runner to run on the right hand side of the crowd. This will increase your chances of spotting them.
B) The coffee – There are several restaurants within a one block area at Eutaw and Fayette. After the marathon crowd passes I go over and grab a cup of coffee. Closer to the 5k and half marathon start there are many restaurants (and even a Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts!) around the Inner Harbor.
C) The 5K – The 5K starts 30 minutes BEFORE the marathon and runs down Light Street (towards the Science Center). The leaders will be flying. If you post up in one space, like at the Science Center you’ll catch the runners in both directions. If you also want to catch the marathon start, cross over to the west side of the street as soon as possible, because in a very few minutes you will want to continue heading east over to Paca Street and the
E) The Marathon half-way point and Half-Marathon start: By this time, regular runners are still heading down Light Street while the elite runners have completed the five mile tour of Federal Hill, UnderArmour HQ in Locust Point, and Fort McHenry. If your runner has not passed you headed south yet, you can wait on Light Street. As soon as they pass, you can walk to Calvert Street and watch the faster marathoners heading up to Pratt Street. One hour and forty-five minutes after the marathon has started, the half-marathon will start in waves. It will probably take fifteen minutes for the ten thousand half-marathoners to clear the start area. In the meantime, full marathoners are still running up the bike lane on Calvert Street.
F) The Finish Line: All finishers will run east on Pratt Street to finish and then pass through the runner’s only area in the newly renovated McKeldin Square. There is plenty of space along Pratt Street to await your runner and cheer on the others, and many restaurants in the area to pass the time (a few right at the finish line!). The marathon winners generally run between two hours and twenty minutes and two hours and thirty minutes. The women’s winner will probably finish about fifteen minutes later and then it will be a constant parade of runners for the next three hours.