Runners participate in the Baltimore Running Festival on Saturday. Photo by Latrice Hill.

Over the weekend, Baltimore City shut down streets to host the 21st annual Baltimore Running Festival. 

Each year, runners from all over the country gather to compete in their choice of a 5K, 10K, relay, half marathon, or full marathon, starting at the Inner Harbor and touring the many neighborhoods of Baltimore including Locust Point, Patterson Park, Lake Montebello and more.

As hundreds lined up to take their mark at the start line, runners stretched to warm up, performed last minute shoestring checks, and held a moment of silence as the national anthem blared through the speakers.

Soon after, as a horn blew loudly to signal the start of the race, racers took off. Runners at full speed crowded toward the front of the group, slow and steady pacers clustered in the middle, and walkers gathered toward the back of the pack.

Runners ranged from young children runners to elderly racers and everyone in between, all there with one goal in mind: to finish their race. 

“I was a little nervous, because this was my first race,” said 5K runner Ibn McClelland. “I wondered, what if I don’t do well or if I had a bad time? But as soon as I got there, I immediately made new friends and felt that it was my race at my pace.”

On sidewalks, supporters with candy, large signs, whistles and even a cowbell cheered on friends, family, and strangers. 

But the cheering didn’t only come from spectators. Fellow runners also motivated each other by locking arms and running as a unit to not leave anyone behind.

“When I got tired, there were so many strangers cheering me on,” McClelland said. “So that motivated me, because I thought I couldn’t continue anymore. But I pushed through and got even more excited from the people on the sidelines cheering me on, even though they didn’t know me.”

No matter the length of the race, participants pushed themselves to their personal limits. Spectators helped raise morale and give runners an energy boost, and runners excitedly returned the cheers with a fist pump, wave, high five, or smile.

“After I finished my race, I cheered on the full marathoners,” MClelland said. “Even though I just ran 5K, I know the feeling of having no more energy to continue. I saw that on their faces. I tried to shout out something funny to make them laugh and I could see it really helped turn their spirits around, so I’m just grateful I was able to be there for them.”

Highlights of the Baltimore Running Festival.

Turning onto Pratt Street and seeing the finish line in your reach is a feeling of pure joy for thousands of runners. But actually crossing that finish line and receiving that brand new shiny, crab-shaped medal is where it all came into perspective as racers realize it was totally worth it.

Racers raised their arms up in relief and accomplishment as they approached the end of their race, cried tears of happiness, hugged their supporters tightly, and enjoyed two free beers from Dogfish Head or Truly — all well-earned and well-deserved. 

If you missed out on this year’s Baltimore Running Festival event, there’s plenty of time to prepare and get ready for next year, October 14, 2023. 

You can also check out our photo gallery from this year’s races here.

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Latrice Hill

Latrice Hill is a Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate who loves all the great things this city has to offer. She worked with WMAR 2-News as an Assignment Desk Editor before she joined...

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