The Great Allegany Run

Western Maryland's Best Kept Secret Destination Race

View of Downtown Cumberland from the Finish Line

by Chris Leyen

Walking the open-air pedestrian mall along Baltimore St. in the Historic Canal District of Downtown Cumberland past elegant red brick buildings peopled with artists' flats, a man noodling on a banjo in the local music store, and local residents popping into the local bake shops and cafes, looking out upon the Allegheny Mountain range as the leaves begin to don their autumnal raiment one gets the feeling they stumbled upon someplace special and somewhat timeless. Across S. Centre Street, looking closely, you can see an eye bolt discretely nestled in the brickwork, the only hint of the finish line banner for the event that will bring a community of ~250 runners together on October 3rd to experience one of the fastest 15k courses in the state, just as it has for the past 33 years.

The Great Allegany Run is a Western Maryland tradition. Beginning in the small town of Mount Savage and finishing in Downtown Cumberland, the point-to-point course winds down 475 ft. on a gradual descent so consistent, if one were to roll a pebble downhill from the start of the 15k race, it would come to rest at the finish line. If you were ever looking for a PR course, this is it. The morning begins near the finish line, as runners are bused from the Ramada Inn located just two blocks from the finish line, up to the Kemp Lodge in Mount Savage.

It's all downhill from there, as the race takes them through the town of Mount Savage, along MD Route 36 and the CSX rail line, where near mile five a locomotive may chance to join our athletes for the race. The course continues adjacent to Wills Creek along the Narrows featuring a view of Lover's Leap (don't try it) and then in the shadow of the Great Allgheny Passage before finishing in Downtown, where the 15k course joins the 5k race - an out and back course running through Downtown Cumberland - finishing into the open-air mall located near the western terminus of the C&O Canal.

At the finish, runners are treated to a live band and street fair. Donuts provided by M and M Bake Shop, and hot coffee from Cafe Mark await for finishers as they relax from the race to welcome the remaining runners into the fold. If runners are looking for something to help them cool off, the locally owned and operated Queen City Creamery waits right around the corner with freshly made frozen custard and sorbets.

You will find the GAR remains as it has since it started, a low-key, but well-run event, worth the trip whether you are coming from throughout the Mid-Atlantic or from right around the corner.

Of course, races don't make it 34 years without the community behind them. The GAR is sponsored by the City of Cumberland and put on by the Queen City Striders and with the aid of long time race director Dave Treber, who is serving in an advisory and supervisory role as he passes the torch this year to RacePacket. The buses to ferry runners to Mount Savage are provided by the Cumberland YMCA, the GAR's primary beneficiary, and the Ramada Inn provides primary lodging and staging for both packet-pick-up, and opens breakfast early on race day for its lodgers.

Whether you run the Great Allegany Run 15k, 5k, or bring young ones to participate in the free-of-charge 'Little Allegany Run', this event is one you don't want to miss.

Register Now for the 2015 GAR

We caught up with one of the QC Striders training for the run

Race Details:

Date: Saturday, October 3, 2015
Time: 8:00 a.m.
Location:Ramada Inn, Downtown Cumberland, MD
100 S George St, Cumberland, MD 21502

Packet Pick-up: Friday, October 2, 2015

Ramada Inn Downtown Cumberland
5:00pm - 9:00pm

Race Day Registration/Packet Pick-up:

Ramada Inn Downtown Cumberland
6:00am - 7:00am (extends to 7:30am for the 5k)
Parking located in garage across from the Ramada Inn (free on weekends)
Last bus to Mount Savage leaves ~7:15 am, get there early!

  • $ 30 GAR 15k (point-to-point from Mt. Savage to Cumberland)
  • $ 30 GAR 5k (out and back in Cumberland)
  • Free Little Allegany Run (tot-trot running a block along S. Centre)
  • All 15k/5k finishers get a Great Allegany Run technical t-shirt
  • Custom Mugs for the top finishers
  • Top 3 Overall and Top 3 in 10 year age groups will be recognized