A microbiologist who earned his doctorate from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Jeremy Ardanuy was not above poking himself for crafting a foolish plan for the full marathon portion of the 20th Baltimore Running Festival.
His objective? Go out hard for the first half of the 26.2-mile course through downtown Baltimore, assess the competition, and then endure the pain for the final half that includes several significant elevation changes.
The decision turned out fortuitous for the Baltimore resident, who captured his second Baltimore Marathon Saturday morning in as many in-person attempts. But after finishing the first half of the race in 1 hour, 11 minutes, Ardanuy wondered whether he had made the right decision.
“To go out as fast as we did on this course, it probably is a dumb idea because that’s way too fast for this course,” he said. “I guess you have to be dumb, but I definitely fit that criteria. But it worked out just fine. So I’ll take it.”
Ardanuy crossed the finish line in 2:26:49, which was 27 seconds faster than this winning time in 2019. But he admitted that he was more focused on winning than improving his time.
“I knew the field coming into the race,” he said. “I just wanted to see who would be willing to go with a hard pace from the start. I figured I could hang on and take the pain.”
Ardanuy said he stayed about a minute ahead of 2017 winner Jordan Tropf for much of the event, but appreciated Tropf’s presence to provide motivation.
“That was the fire under my feet, prodding me along and keeping me going,” he said. “That was intense having him there, but it was a good push.”
Tropf, an orthopedic surgery resident at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who hails from Silver Spring, finished in 2:27:23. The marathon is the first of three that Tropf intends to complete in three days. He plans to participate in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and the Boston Marathon on Monday with an eye towards finishing all three in less than 2:30.
Joanna Hayes finished first among the women, crossing the line in 3:10:11. The 35-year-old stay-at-home mother of three from Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, had never participated in a full marathon and wasn’t sure she was going to be able to complete her inaugural event.
“I had something around a seven-minute pace, and I think that might have been a little too quick because I had some rough miles in the teens,” Hayes said. “I wanted to finish high up, but I didn’t expect to win. So that was pretty surprising.”
Hayes said she took the lead around the 19-mile mark and drew inspiration from a bicyclist assigned to keep pace with the leaders.
“He was like, ‘I think you can go after this. I think you can win it.’ I was like, ‘I’m OK with second,’ because I knew the pain was to come,” she said. “But after I kept running, I was like, ‘OK, now that gave me some fire. Now I want to get first.’”
Hayes, who has run in nine half marathons and won the Harrisburg Capital 10-miler in the spring, fell just short of her goal of running under 3:10, but was nonetheless pleased with her result and said she may consider entering the Boston Marathon.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Hayes said of winning her first marathon. “I was happy with it all around.”
The return of the Baltimore Running Festival, held virtually last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, was embraced by many of Saturday’s participants.
“It was fun to be able to come out and hang out with people, which we couldn’t do last year because we were all locked in,” said Natalia Seymour of Elkton, who completed her sixth organized race but her first at the festival.
After finishing the half marathon in 2017, Angel Thornton of Baltimore had planned to run last year. Although disappointed, she said she understood the rationale.
“I was just hoping that it could come back,” she said. “So it was exciting, it was fun to be here. The last time, I did it by myself. So it was nice to be able to do it with my group of girls.”
Thornton ran with a group that included Lakeisha Galloway of Baltimore, Keshia Thornton of Baltimore and Meshell Jay of New York. Galloway was back for the first time since 2017 when she took part in the 5K.
“I gained a lot of weight during COVID,” she quipped. “So my time was a lot slower. But it felt really rewarding to get it done.”
Many of the runners said one of their favorite parts was competing with like-minded athletes and seeing supporters throughout the race.
“I liked having people on the side cheering everybody on,” said Jean Taylor of Highlandtown. “Everyone was super chatty and friendly. You just feel good afterward.”
Top 10 men finishers
1. Jeremy Ardanuy, 2:26:49
2. Jordan Tropf, 2:27:23
3. Michael Heimes, 2:33:02
4. Nicolas Crouzier, 2:37:39
5. Jonathan Ladson, 2:45:47
6. Ryan Fan, 2:45:56
7. Pat Duboyce, 2:46:02
8. Patrick Blair, 2:46:14
9. Daniel Rowe, 2:48:26
10. Benjamin Adams, 2:50:20
Top 10 women finishers
1. Joanna Hayes, 3:10:11
2. Mikka Macdonald, 3:11:07
3. Rosie Blair, 3:13:37
4. Tessa Devereaux, 3:15:50
5. Bonnie Oshields, 3:16:04
6. Katie Glenn, 3:19:32
7. Rosalind Herendeen, 3:19:36
8. Marie-France Vidaver, 3:20:41
9. Anna Staats, 3:23:46
10. Erica Schramm, 3:23:49