Free Beer at the Finish

For my 3rd year in a row, I partook in the Baltimore Running Festival last Saturday. Like every year, the course felt like a party all along: runners dressed up in colorful apparel from ballerina tutus to Lululemon dresses; musicians tapping drums and blowing horns; locals handing out festive candies from m&m’s to gummy bears; and an entire town cheering and dancing to the beat of our steps. Like every year, I had the best of times breathing in Baltimore and running into friends.

Each stride felt like a party, until I passed the finish line. There, I found myself trapped in a crowded, fenced in parking lot, reeking of alcohol and runners limping, with a beer in each hand. This sight made me sad because the Baltimore Running Festival represents a level of goodness that we as runners, should uphold. The marathon provides a sense of hope for the droves of inner-city kids that come out to give us smiles and high fives. The marathon provides a tour for all to witness Baltimore–both the miles of broken blocks and the patches of prosperity. The marathon suggests a way out–a healthy outlet to escape poverty and run home to heal the wounds. Thus, it saddens me to end this beautiful parade with beer.


Although the children of Baltimore are more accustomed than most to the sights, smells, and sounds of alcohol (Baltimore is the 3rd most alcohol densely populated city in the U.S.), I wish that we, as runners, could provide them with a better alternative. I hope that my $90 registration fee did not fund the “Free beer at the finish.”