The Frederick Running Festival expects to bring as many as 15,000 runners, spectators and supporters to the city between Saturday and Sunday, according to event organizers at a press conference in City Hall on Thursday.
While the Twilight 5K Race, which will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, had already sold out with about 2,000 participants as of Thursday, a few spots remained open in the half marathon, scheduled for a 7 a.m. start on Sunday, according to Lee Corrigan, president of Corrigan Sports Enterprises, which took over organizing the festival in 2007. With roughly 4,500 participants signed up, along with 250 two-person relay teams and 350 kids expected to run the Kids Fun Run on Saturday, well over 7,000 runners are expected to take part this year, a 15 percent increase over last year.
As in previous years, many runners will come to the city from out of the area, with registered participants from 35 different states, the District of Columbia and Canada, Corrigan told the audience Thursday.
Participants in the 5K will likely run in slightly warmer weather, with a high expected to reach 73 degrees compared with the 68 degrees forecast for Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. The weather service also indicated the possibility of rain and even thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon, with a 60 percent chance of rain on Saturday and the chance of rain rising to as high as 80 percent on Sunday.
Still, rain by itself will not affect the race.
“The only thing that’ll stop us is thunder or lightning,” Corrigan said.
All of the events will either take place or start at the Frederick Fairgrounds. City police once again plan to handle rolling road closings for the event, with the first closing beginning at 6:15 a.m. and the last closed road reopening at 10:30 a.m., when the half marathon is set to conclude, according to a city police press release.
Runners in the half marathon will have to keep up a continuous pace of 14 minutes and 57 seconds per mile in order to keep up with the rate at which sections of the road will be reopened to traffic.
The route of the main event will follow the same general path as in recent years, making its way from the fairgrounds west along East Patrick Street and down South East Street to loop around Harry Grove Stadium via Monocacy Boulevard before a lengthy stretch up Market Street. It then continues around Baker Park before winding past Hood College and Frederick Memorial Hospital before making its way back west to the fairgrounds via Schifferstadt and Monocacy boulevards.
While some residents may find the crowds and closed roads a nuisance, Richard Griffin, the city of Frederick’s director of economic development, said the event is actually a boon to businesses, residents and the city. Specifically, Griffin cited a study conducted by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute from previous festivals estimating that the economic impact of the festival on the city exceeds $3.5 million.
“So, they have a method by which they analyze the direct spending of festival participants, first by looking at the actual numbers for how much was raised in terms of registrations and all that, then they estimate the spending of the participants on what they spend outside of the race,” Griffin said.
For example, some participants stay in hotels in the area and patronize businesses such as restaurants and gas stations. Many also take some time to visit shops downtown, bringing a boost to local businesses. Long-term benefits are even harder to estimate, but are still possible, such as the benefit of the word-of-mouth promotion of the city spread by out-of-town participants and visitors.
“So the event generates real economic returns,” Griffin said.
Frederick Foot & Ankle, a podiatrist office with locations in Frederick, Urbana and Martinsburg, West Virginia, is again the title sponsor for the race, and Corrigan again made numerous donations to local charities that support and volunteer for the event.