Celtic Solstice 2021

Scenes from the 2021 Celtic Solstice

The Most Popular Foot Race in Baltimore

The Celtic Solstice is one of the most popular foot races in Baltimore. If races have personalities, then the Celtic Solstice’s https://celticsolstice.org/is zany, carefree, and holiday fun. It takes place a week or two before Christmas and as its name implies around the time of the winter solstice. The course uses the roads of Druid Hill Park and draws more than 2,000 runners.

In the spirit of the holidays, many runners come dressed as Santa, Mrs. Santa, elves, reindeer, grinches, and even Vikings. I’m not sure what Vikings have to do with the winter holidays but hey, winter lights began as a pagan ritual. And, if you’re running in the most popular race in Baltimore you might as well come dressed for the occasion.

Covid Causes Changes

In 2021, Covid did not crush the party. Runners still arrived to race. Covid did force logistical changes. https://www.harrybosk.com/photography-during-covid-19/The big tent that housed onsite registration and vendor tables were gone for the obvious reasons. No one wants to create a spreader event. Tables were set up in the open and fortunately it was a warmer than usual December day.

In 2021, the race marked its 22nd running. The course originally served as an official part of the Maryland Road Running Clubs of America Grand Prix series. It continues to draw area running clubs as well as less formal running groups including Baltimore Pacemakers, Black Girls Run, NCR Trail Snails, Moms Run This Town, Hash House Harriers, and Faster Bastards. You’ll also see members of local high school cross country teams. Yep, for the most popular race in Baltimore all groups are well represented.

Years ago, I ran in this race and would place second or third in my age group. I have the medals to prove it.

Ready, Set, Wait for …

Now, I serve as one of the volunteer photographers. It’s one of my favorite events to photograph because it’s a gigantic outdoor party on a Saturday morning. I get there with the sunrise to photograph race volunteers and to start to snap photos of folks in costumes. Everyone’s happy, no one is grumpy about the early morning or complaining that they need their second or third cup of coffee.

Eventually, a couple of thousand runners make their way to the starting line. But, before the race can start, the race’s founders Jim Adams and Karen Menge start a procession from the rear of the crowd that includes bag pipers, Afghan Greyhounds and somebody carrying a very big sword. They snake through the mass of runners to the starting line.

Using a bull horn Adams gives instructions and it’s fair to say that anyone more than 20 feet behind the starting line can’t hear anything he’s saying. It doesn’t matter.

The bull horn blows, and the lead runners take off. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for everyone to make it over the starting line. It will only take another five to 10 minutes for one of the lead runners to cross the finish line as the winner. As I said earlier, this is the most popular race in Baltimore so it’s going to take some time to get to the starting line and finish line.

The End

Typically, I stand at the finish line with a zoom lens and capture runners sprint to the finish. The party atmosphere doesn’t exist in the last 20 to 30 yards. For the first several waves of runners their competitive juices have kicked in and there are spirited dashes to the end line.  It’s a joy to stand in the middle of the action snapping away.

At the end, runners mill around, share beers, drink mulled wine, consume cups of hot soup and share stories about their success and failure in the race.

Everyone pledges to be back next year.