Like many of the onlookers along Pratt Street at Saturday’s Baltimore Running Festival, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young patiently waited for the marathon’s first finishers. In the meantime, he shook hands and shared stories. At one point, Young, wearing a suit and a medal, took off from his waiting point, sprinting the final 10 or so steps of the 26.2-mile course and through the finish line.
“You saw what I was clocked at, 2:35,” the 65-year-old said later. “I did it in two minutes and 35 seconds. That’s really good, isn’t it?”
Even if 2:35 had been an hour-minute format, Young still wouldn’t have been fast enough to beat first-overall finisher Jeremy Ardanuy of Baltimore, whom Young feverishly greeted with a handshake after his victory. Minutes earlier, Young posed under the finish line for a photo with the Ravens’ mascot, Poe.
Young savored his first Baltimore Running Festival as mayor, having been sworn into the role in May after Catherine Pugh’s resignation.
“Man, it’s just a thrill,” Young said. “It’s just wonderful for me being out here to see so many people in downtown Baltimore, so many runners, so many volunteers around to help. The economic impact of this race [last year] is estimated to be $40 million. People will be going into our restaurants. They’re staying in our hotels. This is really big for Baltimore, and I’m excited that so many people have chosen to participate.”
Young especially took pride in the depth of participants in the Running Festival. The projected 20,000 runners hailed from all 50 states as well as 17 foreign countries, per festival organizers.
“That goes to show me that people are not afraid to come to Baltimore,” Young said. “They’re not afraid to come downtown. They’re not afraid to run through our neighborhoods ’cause they’re running through a lot of neighborhoods, and Baltimore’s being showcased, and that makes any mayor feel great about his city.”
The marathon course exemplifies that showcase. The race began downtown and took runners around the Inner Harbor and through various neighborhoods, with visits to Druid Lake, Patterson Park and Lake Montebello.
“That’s really important so they can see some of the beautiful neighborhoods that we have, some of the neighborhoods that have grown, the rehabilitation of some of these areas, and I think people need to see that Baltimore is a city on the move.”
Of course, Young takes pride in not only the city, but also its people. He marveled at the festival’s attendees and participants, with several of the latter getting pats on the back from Young after they crossed the finish line.
“This is what Baltimore’s all about,” he said. “We’re a diverse city, a resilient city where its people overcome any challenges, man. I just love Baltimore with all my heart and soul, with everything that’s in me. Baltimore is me. Baltimore is all these wonderful people who live and work and play in Baltimore. Baltimore is everybody’s city. When people from the state of Maryland go anywhere, and people ask them, ‘Where are you from?’ the first thing they say is Baltimore. Whether they’re from Baltimore County, Bowie or anywhere, they say, ‘We’re from Baltimore,’ ’cause Baltimore is the state’s city.”