2014 Celtic Solstice 5 Miler Race Report

On Saturday I ran the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler organized by Baltimore's Falls Road Running Store. It was my third time running this race, but the first in about five years. A few things have changed, but it was still a good event. The Celtic Solstice is always run in December, near the winter solstice (not sure why they didn’t wait and do it next weekend). It’s usually cold, and sometimes there is snow. Baltimore is a 45 minute drive from home, so why do I make the drive to run a cold, winter 5 miler? I’d be lying if I said the race premium wasn’t a factor. Since I’ve done this race, Celtic Solstice has always had a really nice Brooks tech shirt with new, original Celtic artwork each year. And we’re not talking about a cheap Brooks shirt. The premium has been a high-quality, gender-specific shirt as long as I’ve been involved, and that was before tech shirts and gender sizing were standard even at larger races. This year was the 15th running of the Celtic Solstice, so they did a really nice Brooks jacket with an embroidered design. Yes, I ran for the jacket.

Will run for jacket...

But it’s not just about the jacket. Celtic Solstice is a fun race. It’s in Druid Hill Park near the Maryland Zoo. We run a hilly course through the park and around a lake. With some out & back sections, you get to see other runners. And while there is no medal (who needs one, with such an awesome jacket?), the after party includes warm food and drink inside a tent. I had vegetarian soup. There may have also been coffee or cider. I also got fruit and cookies.

Wearing my kilt, with Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo, before the race

Magenta with Irish Wolfhounds Motley and Deernoff, and their humans
Men in kilts! There were lots of kilts at this race.

Where all the runners are hanging out is where we used to park. They moved the staging area and the post-race party since the last time I ran this race. It worked out better for the runners except that parking is now a bigger challenge.

Before the race with fellow Marathon Maniac Floyd, who said he also runs this race for the swag
The temperature was in the mid-30s for the race, so I was dressed warmly, but I was still quite cold at the start. We started by going uphill, which was difficult. My muscles weren’t warm enough that early in the race, so that hill was tough. I warmed up later on, but the course was crowded, so I didn't get to zoom down the hills as fast as I would have liked. I'm pretty sure this race is much larger than when I ran it in the past, though I didn't check the results to verify the growth in numbers. I ended up walking up some of the inclines. I also stopped to take pictures of the course and people in costume, so I didn’t really worry about my time. I was just there to enjoy the race. Thank goodness there was sun!

This bagpiper played as we started off uphill

Lots of runners

Another bagpiper on the course

We ran all around the lake before heading to the finish

Statue of William Wallace at one end of the lake

Another fellow Maniac, Charli, was working the water station

I ran a few paces with Mrs. Claus

I would recommend Celtic Solstice to anyone near Baltimore who is interested in a well-organized winter race with a great premium. Just be prepared for some hills and some parking challenges. There were plenty of places to park inside the park, but traffic really backed up with everyone trying to leave at the same time.
Before I left, I managed a photo of this Viking


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