Festival brings wide mix of runners, 'warm and fuzzy feeling' to Frederick

·4 min read

May 7—Alex Pak was feeling the love Sunday morning.

The Columbia resident was one of 2,800 runners who participated in the Frederick Running Festival half-marathon Sunday, on a course that weaved for more than 13 miles around the city.

There was a lot of camaraderie with the other runners, and the crowds along the route were cheering for every runner as they passed, Pak said.

"It gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling," he said shortly after crossing the finish line.

Pak said he'd been running for two or three years, but Sunday was his first half-marathon.

He finished 49th overall, with a time of one hour and 27 minutes, according to online records.

Runners and their supporters began filtering into the Frederick Fairgrounds before 6 a.m. Sunday, stretching and warming up in the orange glow of the rising sun.

Planning the event is pretty much a year-round job, but seeing everything come together on race day is fun, said Amanda Corrigan, of Corrigan Sports, the event's organizer.

It requires coordinating with the city, the Frederick Police Department, and about 500 volunteers, she said as she stood near the finish line inside the grandstand at the fairgrounds Sunday.

"It's a lot of moving pieces," Corrigan said.

Unlike Pak, Will Plumley is a veteran of races like Sunday's.

It was his 12th half-marathon, along with 15 full marathons, he said.

He said the secret to a good race is to not worry about the pace you set.

"It's more important that you make the distance," he said.

The 62-year-old Adamstown resident runs about 40 miles a week, and said a training plan that gradually builds up the distance covered is essential.

But it's important to pay attention to how you feel when you're training, he said.

Occasionally, he'll start out on a run only to quickly head back home.

"Sometimes your body tells you, 'Today ain't the day,'" he said with a chuckle.

Robert Creese of Mount Airy was the first runner to cross the finish line Sunday, clocking in at a time of one hour and nine minutes.

He said he started running as a sophomore in high school and in college at Penn State, but had only moved to distance running fairly recently.

The section of the course between miles 10 and 12 — stretching along parts of Schifferstadt and Monocacy boulevards — were the hardest, he said, with one hill followed by another big hill.

"Right when you're feeling pretty tired," Creese said.

Robert Kelley of Mount Airy participated in what is known as "The Nut Job Challenge," runners who participate in both Sunday's half-marathon and the Twilight Run 5K Saturday evening.

Saturday's run was fun, but he was careful not to over-do it.

"I just took it easy, knowing this morning was going to come early," Kelley said of the 7 a.m. start time.

Kelley said he trains with local running club the Frederick Steeplechasers, and enjoys the opportunity to challenge himself that running provides.

He said a consistent schedule is important for training.

"You need to be disciplined to do what you need to do," he said.

The last race that Heather Burgess, of Fairfield, Pa., ran was the 2016 Boston Marathon.

She had gotten a bit tired of running, and a new job took up more of her time, she said.

But she wanted to get back into it to help create a better sense of work-life balance, and started doing short runs before extending into longer ones.

Burgess, 47, didn't tell many people that she would be running in Sunday's race, but she was looking forward to it.

"I had to see if I've still got it after all those years," she said.

Kelley said he has run in the event for the past four years, and like Pak, he enjoyed the support that the crowd provides for the runners.

And the route makes for a scenic run.

"You get a pretty good tour of the city," Kelley said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP