By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In recent years, one of the bright spots in the Baltimore sports calendar in October has been the Baltimore marathon.

But now the number of people who’ve signed up for the races has dropped, Mike Schuh reports, and the organizers know why.

From a modest start, this marathon and running festival has grown and grown and grown.

Fifteen years ago, 6,650 people showed up for the race, but last year nearly 26,000 took the tour of Baltimore.

This year’s race comes with a slogan — Baltimore Pride.

Race owner Lee Corrigan came up with that idea after seeing disappointing early registration numbers.

“Choose the Baltimore Marathon and show your Baltimore Pride because we need you this year, frankly we’re down by 10 percent,” Corrigan said.

He says the reason why is clear — it’s the riots.

That’s what people are calling about asking if Baltimore is safe.

“I think it’s pretty fair to connect the dots on this. We’ve had a number of calls and emails from people wanting to talk to use about the safety of the city,” he added.

Corrigan says there are 400 police officers on the course on race day, but it is out-of-towners who are staying away.

John Bunnell and Brian Stedman are two of the guys who will be there on October 7.

They’re in recovery and are running for the first time ever as a part of their journey to sobriety.

They say they’re not afraid of Baltimore city streets.

“The city is safe. We’re out here all kinds of hours going to meetings. The city is fine; it’s open for business,” they said.

That’s exactly what Corrigan wants to hear, locals turning out for the local race.

“Don’t go to Richmond, don’t go to Philly, don’t go to New York, don’t do the Marine Corps this year,” he said. “Do the Baltimore Running Festival and show your Baltimore pride.”

This year he’s also selling Baltimore shirts to raise $10,000 for a police and community charity.

Runners in all categories from the 5K, the half and full marathons are able to register up until 9 a.m. the day of the race.

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