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  • Writer's pictureDylan Roche

Annapolis Running Festival

First off, I guess I should say I never planned to do the Annapolis Running Festival. This was a race I ran on a whim — but I’m glad I did it. It was a great event, despite the less than ideal weather.


From an outside perspective, the Annapolis Running Festival seems like an event I would jump at the chance to sign up for. I’m a runner. I’m from Annapolis. The event had its inaugural year in 2023, so it’s exciting to be around when the company behind such big races as the Baltimore Running Festival and Ocean City Running Festival decides to establish something right down the street from you.


To be honest, I think the thing that kept me away is that there’s no marathon option — the longest distance is a half marathon. As somebody who trains long distances on a regular basis (I average about 100 miles per week, and a daily minimum is about 10 miles), paying money to run my usual distance along one of my usual routes just didn’t seem like something I wanted to do. Especially when I’m already registered to run the B&A Marathon along the B&A Bike Trail, which is the actual route I run every single day, but at least that’s a full marathon, so there’s an aspect that makes it a little bit exciting.


But then I saw the weather for March 9 was going to be cold and wet. I’d been hoping to take advantage of Saturday to really push myself in some way as I prepare for the B&A Marathon in two weeks, and a rainy day wasn’t really motivating me. I would probably run my minimum milage, be miserable about it, and then be in a bad mood the whole rest of the day.


Then when I had the chance to enter the Annapolis Running Festival on behalf of Naptown Scoop, I figured why the heck not run a half marathon as a way of keeping things interesting? So with less than 24 hours before the race, I got online, registered, and went to the US Naval Academy stadium to go pick up my bib.


Here’s the thing about Corrigan Sports races: They know how to put on big events. This running festival drew more than 3,000 runners, but somehow it never felt overwhelming. Admittedly, the residential roads around the stadium can easily bottleneck when we’re all trying to get to the parking lot on race day morning, but their volunteers managed to direct traffic and keep things flowing very efficiently.


Let’s start with the pros: The course is great. I love downtown Annapolis, and this course takes us from Navy stadium all the way through the historic district down Main Street, around the harbor, over the Naval Academy bridge across the Severn River, then up to a scenic stretch of the B&A Bike Trail.

 As pretty as the course is, it’s also tough. It’s hilly. I think I saw somebody leave a comment on the Annapolis Running Festival’s Facebook page saying that this was the toughest course they had ever run, and I can easily see that. I’m used to these hills because I run Annapolis on a regular basis, but I will tell you that the slope of the Naval Academy Bridge never gets any easier. Nor does the half-mile of Boulters Way leading up to the bike trail — it’s not that it’s very steep, but it’s a steady incline for a fairly significant distance.


Then of course, there was the support. Even in cold drizzle, volunteers were out there every few miles with water and Gatorade. I’m pretty well trained to run a half marathon distance without any hydration, but it’s still great to see their smiling faces.

The medals are beautiful, the premiums are high quality (all they had left by the time I registered the day before were women’s larges, but they were able to exchange it for a men’s medium after the race), and the afterparty was great. Good food and activities made it worth hanging out afterward despite the weather.


Honestly, the only con I could really name is that the start queue was a little narrow for race with so many participants, which made it really tough for everybody to line up beforehand, but that seems like something the race organizers will easily figure out in time — this is only the second year of the Annapolis Running Festival, and it’s already operating really smoothly.


As I said, I’ve never done a formal half marathon before. I’ve only ever done fulls. So I don’t have a basis of comparison, but I’m pretty proud that I finished in 1:31:20. I like the symmetry of knowing I ran 13.1 miles in 1:31. Plus, if I maintained that kind of pace for a full marathon, I’d place for Boston — though I’m not counting on being able to do that, as I was pretty gassed after keeping that speed up for a half!


My main takeaway from this is that it’s always a good thing to mix up your training routine, especially when you feel as if you might be in slump. I like the solitary nature of running and the way it gets me away from society for some peace and quiet by myself, but every now and then, it’s great to push yourself when you’re surrounded by thousands of people plus a lot of fanfare. I’m so glad I had the Annapolis Running Festival to keep me motivated on a rainy day — it was a good one!

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