Oh, how I adore the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k, a lovely race in the heart of Charm City that is great for all ages and fitness levels! As the Mid-Atlantic’s largest all-women’s 5k, (and second oldest in the country,) the fee is quite reasonable, ($35.00 early bird,) plus proceeds benefit Cancerve, a women’s support services for families battling cancer. There’s also a great optional 8-week training program in several different locations for an additional $25.00, which includes a shirt, guest speakers, and for some areas, packet pick-up. (I picked mine up at pre-race, easy peezy!)
I first ran the BWC in 2011, (no recap for that one,) then again in 2013, 2014, and in 2015 … the year I almost bailed because my son was recuperating from major jaw surgery and life was chaotic. (Wow, has it been a year since his operation already?)
This year, I was determined to make the most of my Baltimore Women’s Classic experience by getting a PR … something I never manage to do for this race. See, I have a bad habit. For the past few years, I kick butt January through March, training hard for the WDW Marathon Weekend, Princess Half Marathon, and others.
But then April hits and I slack. Big time.
I was able to muster up a decent fitness level for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, but as soon as I got home … back to slack. Call it burn out or me wanting to give higher priority to writing, blogging, work and other projects, but come last Sunday, I clearly was not in good enough shape to try for a PR.
And … hate to confess this … I almost bailed again after waking with a massive headache. Plus Bob was at Ocean City, working on the major fixer-upper we recently purchased. He’s always gone with me to this race so we can have breakfast later, so I was missing my man. But if he were there, he’d only push me out the door, since I’d be glad I did later.
Which is totally what happened! So here’s the scoop on everything awesome about the BWC 5k:
The race begins at Rash Field by the Inner Harbor, a gorgeous area to visit. You do have to secure your own parking but there are many different garages to choice from. (I highly recommend using Parking Panda to secure a lower rate, but look for a promo code first. Also, consider avoiding the 400 Pratt Street garage unless you plan on getting there very early. Although very convenient, it had quite the line!)
This year, they had large tents set up on Rash Field with some vendors already open before the race. There’s also plenty of port-o-pots available, (Tip: the ones farther down have smaller lines,) with hand-washing stations and tables set up for baskets full of sunscreen, deodorant, baby wipes, band aids, tampons, hair elastics, etc. Such a great touch!
They also have bag check available near the bathrooms that is quick and painless, just make sure you bring your own bag.
After a taped recording of the National Anthem, trainers from Brick Bodies Gym led us in a lively warm-up before sending everyone to the starting line where volunteers hold pace signs.
The race kicks off with an air horn blow and the first chunk of the course is pleasant … until you hit the hill at Jackson Street! (Approximately .60.) Not the biggest one you’ll ever see, but still a doozy. If you’re trying to PR, I recommend taking the first half mile at an easy pace so that hill doesn’t kick you in the rear!
The second mile is a lot easier–some hills, but manageable. While this race doesn’t bring out as much spectator support as larger races such as the Baltimore Marathon, there are volunteers holding arrow signs and cheering you on while keeping everyone on the right track.
At the 2.5 mile mark, the course loops near the starting area again … which gives the impression that you’re almost done, but nope, not yet! The second water station is a welcome sight, though, (with the first near the mile one mark.) Plus the absolute best part of the race is next, when we ran along the Inner Harbor, with its charming brick path, wrought-iron fences, and welcomed breeze!
There were plenty of spectators cheering us on at the finish line, and afterwards, finishers are rewarded with a wet towel, (SO NEEDED this year,) a bottle of water, a rose, (awwww,) and best of all … a pretty medal! I really loved this year’s Black Eyed Susan design and for a 5k, they really treat you well.
At the Finisher’s Village, there are lots of merchants selling everything from jewelry and athletic clothing to storage containers and protein shakes. There’s some freebies as well as chips, pretzels, granola bars, bananas, and watermelon for the finishers. A background banner was set up for finishing photographs, although the line was quite long. A DJ kept everything lively as well!
The finisher prizes were also quite lovely … maybe one of these years I’ll place. (When I’m 70, perhaps?) All and all, this little gem of a 5k is a must-try for those in the area. This was my fifth time running the Baltimore Women’s Classic and I’ll certainly be back next year for the 42th event!
One last tip: If you have time, consider visiting the Inner Harbor afterwards! There are many places for breakfast plus a great Barnes & Noble for book lovers. A wonderful way to show off your bling!
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at a future Baltimore Women’s Classic!