Owings Mills' David Berdan wins Baltimore Marathon

David Berdan, a 32-year-old science teacher and cross country coach at Garrison Forest, won Saturday's Baltimore Marathon, becoming the first local champion in the 13 years of the Baltimore Running Festival.

The Owings Mills resident finished in 2:30:05, almost nine minutes faster than runner-up Brian Crispell (2:38:57), a 37-year-old from Philadelphia.

"It's been a goal of mine for a while," said Berdan, who led the first half of the 2011 marathon before eventually placing 10th. "It's a good opportunity, and I'm all about hometown."

Elizabeth Perry, 36, of Pittsburgh, won the women's marathon in 2:58:01, joining Berdan as the first American marathon winners in the history of the Running Festival. Perry edged out second-place finisher Julia Roman-Duval, 31, of Columbia, by less than three minutes.

"I definitely went out a little faster than I had planned, but I felt good, so I just tried to go with it for as long as I could," Perry said. "There was a lot of support out there, and it helped me a lot."

This year's marathon didn't offer prize money, unlike in past years, after Baltimore-based apparel company Under Armour decided not to renew its title sponsorship in August. (Under Armour stayed on as a major sponsor and provided T-shirts to participants.)

Without prize money, the race didn't draw the elite runners it had previously. And Saturday's pace was considerably slower than last year, when Kenyan Stephen Muange won in 2:13.08.

"It's still awesome to win it, but ... if there's no prize money, I guess that's why I had a chance," Berdan said. "I still consider myself somewhat elite, and I mix it up with [elite runners]."

An overcast sky and the possibility of rain weren't enough to discourage 27,000 runners and their supporters from filling the city streets for the Running Festival, which includes a marathon, half marathon, team relay, 5K and Kids Fun Run.

It was one of the first big-city marathons since the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April. A large portion of the final stretch of Saturday's race was blocked off from viewers, and only clear, see-through bags were allowed near the finish line.

Erika Brannock, a preschool teacher from Towson who lost part of her lower left leg because of injuries sustained during attack in Boston, served as the honorary starter Saturday. She also held the yellow tape as Berdan crossed the finish line.

"I was just sick to my stomach with nerves," said Brannock, who woke up at 4:30 a.m. to start preparing. "It took a while and then the nerves subsided and I feel like I can really enjoy the moment now."

The event was projected to create an economic impact of $38.6 million, based on last year's race. One thousand volunteers helped, with 500 city police officers providing security and keeping the streets clear.

"It's obviously a positive reflection on the whole community," said Lee Corrigan, president of Corrigan Sports Enterprises, which organized the event. "Number one, credit to [the Baltimore Police Department] for the level of preparedness, which was outstanding. Number two, credit to them that they didn't make it inconvenient for people."

Stephen Febish, 24, of Baltimore, won the half marathon in 1:11:49, with Jen Ecker, 32, of Baltimore, winning the women's half marathon (1:25:34). Luke Rodina, 31, from Fort Meade, won the 5K (16:13), and 17-year-old Jennifer Bleakney of Columbia took the women's 5K (19:07).

Daniel Romanchuk, 16, of Mount Airy, won the wheelchair marathon in 2:15:29, and Bruce Newman, 67, of North Carolina, won the handcrank marathon.

As the marathon's 8 a.m. start approached, the conditions were still uncertain. There was a 30 percent chance of rain in the hours leading up to the race, and it seemed likely that the participants would be getting wet. But with only a light drizzle that came intermittently throughout the day, the conditions were favorable.

"The weather gods were shining on us, obviously," Corrigan said. "Over the years we've been really fortunate anyway, and obviously it looked like we were really going to be in for payback, but it all worked out pretty nicely for us."

The area around Camden Yards was filled with friends and family members who cheered on the runners from the start line at the intersection of South Paca Street and Camden Street. Crowds lined up from there to the juncture at Pratt Street and Paca Street, a block away.

Michelle Dunn, from Lutherville, went to the running festival to support her husband, Krister, who was running the marathon. She brought their two sons, Dylan, 8, and Ryan, 6, who both ran in the Kids Fun Run.

"This is our first time coming," Dunn said. "I thought, 'Let's sign them up, because it will easier to wait.'"

Dylan said that while he enjoyed racing, he wouldn't be following in his father's footsteps anytime soon.

"I don't want to run a marathon," Dylan said. "It will take too long."



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