Jeremy Ardanuy spent the weeks leading up to the Baltimore Running Festival facing internal debate after internal debate. He viewed the event as part of his training for the California International Marathon in December, so he questioned how he should approach it.
Should he run the half or the full marathon? Even if he ran the full, should he treat it as a race or a tune-up? In the days leading up, he decided he wanted to give it a real shot, aiming for a time of 2 hours, 30 minutes to 2:35 in Saturday’s marathon. But Friday night, he came to the conclusion that wasn’t enough, no matter what it meant for his training.
“I was like, ‘That’s fine and all, but I want to win,’ ” Ardanuy said. “I’m willing to go a little too hard and be a little dumb to get the win.”
It paid off in a winning time of 2:27:16 for Ardanuy in the Baltimore Marathon. He cruised to victory in the main event of the 19th annual Baltimore Running Festival, never relenting on a lead he held basically from the race’s start.
Ardanuy, a 26-year-old doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a Silver Spring native, was running in his third Baltimore Marathon, having come in third last year after finishing his attempt at the 26.2-mile distance at 4:45:03 in 2017. Saturday’s winning time was more than two hours faster than his first attempt and nearly eight minutes ahead of second-place finisher Michael Wardian.
“It’s an important marathon to me,” Ardanuy said. “You’ll never forget your first marathon. It’s a very memorable, painful experience at times, so it’s pretty important for me to win this.”
Ardanuy said his previous two attempts in Baltimore helped him Saturday, knowing not to push himself too much at the start even as he built his lead. That sizable advantage allowed him to focus on his own run, rather than worry about having to make a move for the lead or having another runner attempt a late charge.
Given that two years ago it took him nearly five hours to finish the race, Ardanuy is proud of how far he’s come.
“I think about that a lot,” he said. “Really, every half year, I’ve made a pretty big leap, and I’m just trying to keep that going. Obviously, it gets more and more difficult to improve, law of diminishing returns in training, so I’m just trying to do as much as I can, ride that wave and keep improving.”
Natalie Atabek is moving to Baltimore in a couple of days. The crowd along Pratt Street gave her quite the welcome party.
Atabek, 28, was the first-place finisher among women in Saturday’s marathon with a personal-best 2:58:57. The Bethesda native is moving to Baltimore with her boyfriend, Brian Faherty, who shares her passion for running.
“I love this area,” Atabek said. “I run around here all the time, so it’s awesome to run another race here and take the win.
“I’ve put in a lot of miles around this city, so it’s awesome to bring that to fruition here.”
June’s Baltimore 10-Miler turned out to be a preview of Saturday, as Ardanuy and Atabek won the men’s and women’s divisions of both that event and Saturday’s marathon. Unlike Ardanuy, Atabek was running her first Baltimore Marathon, having twice competed in the half marathon.
“More hills,” Atabek laughed. “I think just the energy along the course was just really remarkable. It’s a lot different doing the half versus the full. You’re doing it twice over, but the crowd is just as strong.”