Falls Road Running – This encompasses a lot, actually: Federal Hill Runners, Tuesday Night Track at Gilman, many of the local running races, and the group of girls I spent many a mile with for long runs on the weekends! When I moved to Baltimore I showed up to a Monday night run and never looked back. They are some of the most talented, loyal, welcoming people in the city for runners. With someone at every pace level running just about any distance there truly is a place for everyone. This group is my second family, and that’s why I know that they will stay close even when I leave the city.
Favorite bike group – Race Pace Owings Mills, these Thursday night group rides taught me how to ride a bike. Seriously, between these rides and the graciousness of the Ryan/Pat/Zero crew in the city, I generally always had people around me in the first few years I was on a bike to plan rides and let me sit on their wheels…..and wait up when I inevitably got dropped. I’ve come a long way on two wheels now, and I did not get there alone!!
Best bike shop – Twenty20 Cycling. I go to the Hampden shop (there’s one in Savage Mills too) and have always been taken care of well. These guys know bikes, and they are good honest mechanics (especially Johnny!). I don’t trust many with my bike and they make the cut!
Best running store – Falls Road Running. This should go without saying since they are the brick and mortar behind the running team. But, slightly north of the city it’s always worth the trip. You never know what is going on in the store that day…..and, for me, it has always been that place where “everybody knows your name”. Plus, Jim Adams is nothing short of a Baltimore legend!
Best Long Run – Gwynns Falls Loop. This is also the “best kept runner secret” of Baltimore. I’m amazed at how many people will run 15+ miles back and forth around the harbor to get miles in when this little gem is so close. And there’s plenty of space when you pop out in in Druid Hill Park to add on miles before heading back down south. This route will make you forget you’re in a city!
Best Medium Run – Shady Seven. Okay so, never run this alone. Seriously – it’s not called shady because the trees are plentiful. But, this run gets you out of the city blocks so you can run and not be stopped by lights, and, despite running through some questionable neighborhoods, it’s actually kind of pretty sometimes.
Best long ride – Lineboro. I still remember the first time I tagged along for this ride (115 miles from the city) and I thought I would never make it home. It’s hilly, can be really hot in the summers, and it goes to Pennsylvania. There’s no more gas station in Glen Rock, but still takes the cake for best long pedal out of the city. You get to stop at Leone Spring too which is always a treat to refill water that’s actually spurting fresh from a spicket in the ground.
Best local Running race – Club Challenge. A local 10 mile race in February in the hills of Columbia is not most people’s favorite. But, that’s why I’ve always been a bit different! I think I generally run well here which contributes to my like of the race, but, one year I did run the course 3 times for ultra training, and I wouldn’t have done that if I hated it! Plus, rivalries are fun, especially when you’re on the winning team every year.
Best local triathlon – Half Full. Okay so, full disclosure, due to timing with a certain race I have been going to in Hawaii, I’ve never actually made it to Half Full. But, there aren’t too many local tris in Baltimore. Really, the vote came down to two. And, this one took the cake no problem simply based off what people say about it. Supporting the Ulman Cancer Fund, this race represents what it means to be Half Full: having hope and optimism in the face of adversity. A great day of racing for a great cause!
Best Trail System – Patapsco State Park. Just 10 minutes down 95 from the city, these trails are always open and well maintained. I have spent many hours in the woods there and was happy to have some semblance of trail running close to the city for my time in Baltimore. One time Carly and I also made a video about running in the dark at Patapsco – it’s pretty amazing.
Best pool – This one did have to be divided….best indoor pool goes to the MAC. Open at 5am, always clean, with separate pools for the aerobics classes and kiddos, this is definitely my favorite indoor swim spot out of the city options. But, who doesn’t love an outdoor pool? So, the Merritt Fort Avenue pool does get the win there. 25 meters, 3 lanes, and never crowded. The only downside is that when you swim on the weekends you will undoubtedly be the only one without a beer in hand! Ever want a non-city option? Check out the indoor North Arundel Aquatic Center — totally worth the $6 for this one!
Best treadmill – At the MAC….the fourth one in from the right in the back island of treadmills. It has a cracked plastic piece at the bottom and if you run too far to the back left of the belt it makes a weird knocking sound. But, I’ve had some of my best runs on this machine and the TV always has a clear connection!!