I got to run the marathon in the Baltimore Running Festival, yesterday. I say "got to run", but it was really not too tough. The 4000 available slots aren't in such high demand that it's terribly difficult to sign up. The tough part is the months of training leading up to the race, the weekly runs of increasing distance, the difficulty getting up and down stairs after your first 20 mile training run (not to mention after the actual 26.2 mile race).
I saw a few things that I thought were really interesting this year as compared to years past (I ran the half in 2008 and 2009, and the relay in 2011). I thought I'd take a couple minutes to document them.
- The oragnizers have strong opinions that people shouldn't use headphones during the race, but well more people were wearing headphones than weren't; and significantly more people were using them than I'd seen in years past. Especially full marathoners, and myself included. First time I've worn them in a race, and I'd frequently taken them off to talk to the runner next to me. I saw many people doing the same. I think it's a shift in the idea that when you have headphones on, you're being antisocial.
- I saw people with all types of phones on the course, taking photos and video while spectating. iPhones had the majority by a long shot, but I saw dozens of Samsungs, a couple HTC, and a couple LG.
- I saw half a dozen runners using their iPhones to FaceTime with friends and family while running. A couple relay members coordinated with their teammates running the next leg by FaceTime, but most often it was a runner talking to a friend or family member who was sitting comfortably at home. It struck me as an amazing way to share the experience with a loved one.
- I never saw anyone with anything other than an iPhone making a video call. I'm not saying it wasn't happening, but I didn't see it.
- Cell reception in the runners' area and celebration village was spotty at best, and significantly less reliable than in years past. Not sure if this is due to the proliferation of smartphones, or if more people were simply using the available bandwidth at a given time. Talking to people, the experience was the same on all carriers.
- To go along with that, we've run our pop-up retail shop on a 3G card in a router for the past three years are the BRF, to much success. This year it was a painful experience.