My sentence about no-race-day-packet-pickup was not a complaint, it was an observation and I carefully phrased it that way. It was the broader context that makes the lack of a good solution a complaint and that should have been clear if you read the entire paragraph.
Your scenario of the burden of schlepping 25000 race packets around is also false. At CSE's Frederick HM, we got to choose our PP location on the registration form so they only had to cart around a fraction of bibs to each store. And they didn't hand out shirts at PP so it took much less effort than you're suggesting.
Your point about mass transit is not fair either. First, CSE simply needs to get their information straight (the MTA map being an obvious example). Second, that CSE shouldn't be blamed because other races have similar problems is not an excuse. Last, if the race is too big for the local facilities, the max number of participants needs to be lowered.
My observation about the 3/4 mile walk was not a complaint by itself. It was in the context of their bad instructions about where to get off the transit system that it became a complaint.
I'm not a naive beginner who will complain at the drop of a hat. I've run 14 HMs, volunteered for about 20, and seen plenty of problems. Baltimore stands out as the least satisfying, most frustrating and the only HM I will never do again.
OK, you started your post by warning that you may be hypercritical. That is an accurate statement. I read your whine festival about the Baltimore HM last year. And your lead off with 'No race day packet pick up."
And that would be different from most big races with an expo how? It's all about channeling you into the expo. But can you imagine 10000 people who couldn't be bothered to pick up their packet on Thurs/Friday crushing in on Saturday? Can you imagine the logistics of CSE having to transport 25000 race packets and shirts to various running stores around town for a week before the race? And what stores? Charm City? They wouldn't do it because CSE is a competitor. Falls Road? One store on a little road. Fleet Feet? Like they could handle it? Road Runner Sports? Or just make us all go to CSE HQ in Elkridge. That is the same problem as making us go to the expo.
The mass transit issue is equally silly. No one seems to have Mass Transit down for these things. There is a rush to use trains that even better systems like DC's Metro simply cannot handle and since Baltimore has one of the worst mass transit systems in the world .... that isn't CSE's fault.
The candy bars weren't opened. The fruit wasn't cut. Phillips was only handing out 1 oz samples (ok that was a little off-putting I admit, but I took as many as I wanted).
You had to walk a whole three-quarters of a mile to the Inner Harbor! Gasp! (Ichiro ran around home plate farther than that last night to avoid Wieters' tag in the first inning of last night's game and was still called safe!) I drove and I had to walk nearly a mile to Pickles Pub where the Full started. I considered it my warm up.
Your post made the Baltimore Running Festival sound like an unmitigated disaster on par with the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas or the (not actually in) DC Hot Chocolate (not quite) 15k. A double whammy of unmitigated disasters on the same day.
It was not.
I agree, I would rather see a split, simultaneous start. I don't like a 9:45 start. And if they did that, they could offer a choice of two half marathons ... one starting at Camden Yards and finishing at Harborplace; one starting at Harborplace and finishing at M&T Bank Stadium.
On balance, I thought it was well run. Of course it was my first major event. Second if I count the Columbia Celebration Triathlon ... which also had and expo only packet pick up. (And the the Fallston Duathlon also had a one day one location packet pickup.) I have a lot more experience in the last year and may find more things to pick at. But for me it's about the course ... challenging without being torture ... and the crowd support ... best of any race I have run except Rock 'n' Roll Savannah. (RnRAZ sucked in that category. Running through the city practically alone.)
Maybe I'll see you there. Anyplace/time you'd like to meet-up?
Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you will be doing the impossible -- St Francis of Assisi
Baltimore HMers may want to prep by reading my report from last year. Yes, it is a scathing report but I really do wish you well and, more importantly, there's a lot of info you may find helpful. (Or it may just set your bar low enough that you'll enjoy it more!)
Yes, I'm hoping they fixed everything. But a quick glance at the website suggests otherwise.
For instance, the 2012 runner handbook *still* has that same misleading map indicating the light rail station nearest the packet pickup is "closed on event days". But the day of the HM is not considered an event day!
And you'll be better prepared for the on-course Lara Bars. The HM info page says the bars will be at one location on the course; but two paragraphs later says they'll be "at a minimum of 2" locations on the course! But it's a moot point if they don't open the wrappers in advance (they didn't last year). Plus, they distributed them *after* the fluid tables. Don't plan to open them while running with a cup of water!
And so on.
With that warning, brace yourself for my race report from 2011.
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