The Casual Runner

Charm City Wine Run 5k

Event: 2016 Charm City Wine Run 5K
Event Location: Rash Field, Baltimore, Maryland
Event Date: May 14, 2016

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Why I decided to run this race.

After I decided to re-focus on races shorter than the half marathon for a while, I needed to find ones close to me that would continue to motivate me to train.  Given the location along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which is one of my favorite places to run; the fact that the race ended at a day-long wine festival and our entry fee included unlimited tastings; and the participation of several of my friends from my wine group, this race was perfect.

Getting there/the lead-up to the race

I’ll admit I have not been consistent with my training since about March.  The weather has been miserable and I just haven’t had the desire to pound out miles in the pouring rain.  Even so, I was still thinking about running it since a 5K is within the realm of my normal fitness and I don’t have to do much training to complete the distance.  But when I found out that one of my friends was thinking of skipping the race since she was injured and didn’t want to be the last one to finish if she walked, my husband and I agreed that if she was able to walk it, we’d stay with her.

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The race Expo

Like most races hosted by Charm City Run, packet pickup was at one of their store locations (this time the one on McHenry Row) the night before the race.  In fact, Charm City Run had two packet pickups going on that night but they easily directed participants to the right line and everything moved smoothly.  I picked up everything for my husband and I, and was done in under 5 minutes.

The night before the race was the first nice weather that we’d had in the region for weeks, so my husband and I took the dogs with us to packet pickup with the intention of going out to dinner with them afterward.  Conveniently there was a pet-friendly restaurant right across the street, where we ran into friends who’d had the same idea.  I don’t normally drink before a race, but since we were going to be walking and the race was in conjunction with a wine festival, drinks seemed appropriate.

Swag review

All race participants got a purple short-sleeved gender-specific event tech shirt, a wine glass, and unlimited tastings at the festival.  The tastings certainly raised the cost of this race compared to some other 5Ks, but I know I drank way more than the cost of my ticket so it seemed pretty reasonable to me.

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The gear

Although the weather was predicted to be nice for the race and at least a few hours of the festival, it was unclear if that would really be the case.  Further, we planned to go straight from the race to the festival, without changing.  Given these two considerations, I needed to wear something that would transition easily from running to hanging out drinking, that could hold my keys and wallet and any snacks that I grabbed, and that would keep me cool during the expected sun in the morning but would be warm enough if it started to rain.  So I decided against a costume and just wore some comfortable running clothes.

The gear: Black Fabletics tank top, dark grey Adidas sports bra, SparkleSkirt with built-in shorts in Merlot, Injinji socks, Saucony Guide 9 shoes, and Garmin Forerunner 620.

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The pre-race

We were unsure of the parking situation so we arrived about 45 minutes before the race started.  We easily found street parking about 2 blocks away that was convenient but a little pricey.  We strolled down to the cleanest port-a-potties that I have ever used, and then wandered over to the starting line to kill time while we waited for our friends.

The weather was gorgeous: the first nice morning I could remember in recent weeks.  The sun was shining, it wasn’t too humid, and the temperature was just about perfect.  Perfect conditions for a lovely run along the water with friends.

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Along the course

The race started at Rash Field, where the wine festival would be held.  I didn’t precisely know where Rash Field was other than at the Inner Harbor, but it turns out it’s the grassy area between the Science Center and Phillip’s Restaurant.  The race was an out-and-back that started near Phillips and followed the path around the Inner Harbor for 1.5 miles, then turned us around to return to the festival.

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The Inner Harbor was not closed to other people so there were tourists and people walking their dogs, but they weren’t really in the way for those of us at the back of the pack.  There was one water stop on the course that we passed twice and it still had water for even the slowest people on the return.  Most of the course had plenty of space for the runners, though there was one bridge that was a bit tight.  But I really like running in this section of Baltimore, so I really have no complaints.

The SMOpinion

Sure, there was no SMO for this race.  Few 5Ks in this area give medals.  But we got wine glasses and free alcohol.  That’s not bad for a 5K.

The post-race experience

The race finished back at Rash Field, though we weren’t technically allowed in to the main festival right away.  Runners were directed around to some tables where we received our wine glasses and wristbands.  We then got water and snacks, and visited a few tasting tables outside of the main festival space.  The most popular table was the one giving out full cans of Strongbow (and they would even give you more than one at a time if you asked).  Some of the food trucks were already serving food (for sale), so we grabbed some lunch and drinks and joined our friends on the grass to relax before gearing up for the wine tasting marathon we were about to undertake.

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Playlist Peak

I didn’t take music with me since I was with friends and knew we’d chat the whole time.

Looking back now

I don’t know if the 5K sells out every year, but I know it did this year.  The organization that put on this race will host another festival/5K combination in Baltimore (crab and beer festival) and one in National Harbor (Oktoberfest) later this summer.  I’m not sure if I’ll do either of those just because of the timing (and the fact that I’m not a huge beer person), but there is no doubt I’d be up for doing the wine run again.

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