Recently, I was both flattered and honored, when the NBC affiliate in Baltimore invited me to do two on-air segments during the Baltimore Marathon this Saturday, October 15th. The segments, airing live from the start line at 6:15am and another later in the hour, will focus on last-minute race tips for those runners competing in the marathon, as well as training tips for those on-hand who might just be inspired to start their own training regiment.
Now in its 11th year, the Baltimore Marathon has seen a lot of changes over the last decade: from the course, to the sponsors, to the competitors. Despite all of these changes and evolutionary improvements, what has always remained constant is that this rolling 26-mile course features many of Baltimore's iconic neighborhoods from the Inner Harbor, to Druid Hill, to Butcher Hill, to a finish line area between M&T and Camden Yards.
Amidst these changes, tweeks, and improvements that take place each year, none were more significant and impactful to the long-term stability of the race, than the entry of Baltimore-based apparel company, Under Armour, as title sponsor of the race in 2003. Under Armour entered the sports industry in 1996 behind the ground-breaking introduction of shirts made of wicking, breathable compression materials to be worn under football pads, in lieu of the heavier, denser cotton t-shirts worn by players for generations. The vision of company founder, Kevin Plank, has expanded and extended from football, to baseball, to basketball, to track and field and in the last three years, into the running market. As the brand continued to expand, and with the growth of their running and triathlon divisions, it was only logical that they would step in and take over naming rights of their hometown marathon.
With help from sponsors like Under Armour, the Baltimore Marathon is also leading the way in terms of "green racing." In an effort to preserve our environment and keep the Baltimore neighborhoods beautiful, a number of measures will be put in place, including: cardboard trash cans for compost, waste and recycling will be placed along the course. Leftover food will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank and clothes discarded along the course will be taken to the Salvation Army. In addition, the Runners Village and Celebration Village will be powered by renewable biodiesel and runners have the option to purchase carbon credits through Native Energy to offset their travel and lodging. Oh, and the race shirt? It is made from 100% recycled materials. Thank you Under Armour!
On top of the $5 million that the Baltimore Running Festival has donated to charity in the last 11 years, it has also provided the city of Baltimore with an estimated $90 million in revenue. This year, Under Armour added a fun component called Sneaker Week, where area residents can pay $1 and in exchange, wear their sneakers to work, in an effort to stomp out breast cancer. Today is the last day, but for more information, check out their website.
As a life-long athlete, I find this time of year to be both exciting and motivating. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn, we get into what's called the 'Fall Marathon Season.' From the Chicago Marathon in early October, to the Baltimore Marathon this weekend, to the Marine Corps Marathon on the last weekend in October, to the fabled New York City Marathon in the first weekend of November, there is no shortage of opportunities and reasons for each of us to get out and be active during these fitness-friendly months in the Mid-Atlantic region.
So whether you're a fitness afficianado, a marathon maniac, an Ironman triathlete like me, or a first time fitness participant, the Baltimore Running Festival has something to offer for everyone and I have tips and hints that I'll be sharing on live television, that will be helpful for all levels of participants.
So if you're in Baltimore tomorrow morning, tune in to WBAL, channel 21, at 6:15am to hear my tips live from the start line. Not in Baltimore? Make sure you come back Genuine Joy, where I will upload the link later that morning. As always, you can Tweet questions or comments to me via @hilaryphelps
If I don't see you tomorrow morning, I'll look forward to seeing you on the road, or right back here at hilaryphelps.com!