The Oct. 15 Baltimore Running Festival has attracted a record total of entries, and the number getting their heart rate up near the Camden Yards staging area could exceed 10,000.
The half-marathon reached its capacity of 4,000 last month. More than 3,100 have registered for the marathon, and they'll be accompanied by at least 440 four-person relay teams. The 5K has nearly 1,200 entries.
The fifth annual Festival will award more than $100,000 in prize money, the bulk up for grabs in the Under Armour Marathon. A first-place prize of $15,000 for the top male and female has attracted an international field and some solid resumes.
On the men's side, Mindaugus Pukstas represented Lithuania in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Mykola Antonenko, of the Ukraine, has a faster personal best, as he's been under 2 hours, 14 minutes. This year's candidates to make it five straight wins for Kenyans in Baltimore include Wilson Komen, who was fourth here last year, in 2:17:31, and Isaac Arusei and Douglas Momanyi, who went 1-3 in a recent half-marathon in Parkersburg, W.Va.
The Falls Road Running Store, which won the team relay in the first three festivals, has a foursome of Joe Smith, Mark Gilmore, Eric Estrada and Brian Godesky, that will attempt to finish ahead of the marathon champion. In the 40-and-over Masters set, Chris Chattin, who helped Falls Road to wins in 2002 and '03, will chase Lance Winders, a Tennessean who went 2:34 earlier this year.
Ramilia Buragulova, a 43-year-old with roots in Russia, will be back to defend her women's title. Her challengers will include Ilona Barvanova, a Ukrainian who's based in suburban Philadelphia. Susan Graham-Gray, a legally-blind 36-year-old from Greencastle, Pa., returns. She was fourth last year, just ahead of Ruxton's Lee DiPietro, a constant in the Festival's first four years.
The marathon and team relay begin at 8 a.m. Registration is being accepted for everything except the half-marathon, at thebaltimoremarathon.com.