The Philadelphia Marathon was last weekend, and Christy, May Selby, and I took part in the 26.2 mile run through the City of Brotherly Love. We loved the race and the whole Philly marathon weekend experience. The weather was pretty ideal for the run, and we were all able to hit some of our goals for the day. As we look back on it, we all agree that we’d recommend this race for anyone looking to take on a big city marathon.
Being known as trail runners who live in the mountains, it’s pretty common for people to ask questions as to why we would go to a city and run on pavement. Well, for us we’ve always thought of a marathon as a cool way to tour a city. Just as every city is different, so too is every race course, and no single one is the best. We think they’re all worth checking out, and we’re constantly looking for new ones to run. Collectively, the three of us have run some 70 marathons around the world through the years, and our curiosity for running these urban courses isn’t likely to end anytime soon.
For anyone interested considering running a big city marathon in the coming years, consider some of these thoughts the three of us compiled about the Philadelphia race:
- Easy access to start/from finish > walked right up to line up without transportation concerns, walked away afterward without issue.
- DJ’s lining the course with high tech sound systems – subwoofers, speakers, some even scratching records.
- Running along the Schuylkill River while Penn’s crew team was practicing.
- Course meanders past monuments, through parks.
- Great aid stations, frequent and fully stocked with hydration and gels.
- The expo’s proximity to Reading Terminal!
- The medal with a Liberty Bell that actually rings – and when masses of marathoners wear them exiting the finish area, it makes for a sweet sound.
- It’s a great tour of the city, the course hits a lot of cool areas of Philadelphia, and unlike some city marathons, there aren’t any sections of the race that aren’t interesting.
- The size of the city is perfect for exploring over a long weekend, and the size of the marathon field, with about 10,000 runners, feels full but not crowded.
- Philadelphia offers great art experiences before or after the race, i.e. Barnes Foundation, Philly Art Museum, Cherry St. Pier.
- Easy sign-up, no lotteries, no required fundraising and charity angles. An easy city for travel and hotels.
- Great food options to motivate you during the race (what am I going to eat when I’m done?): Geno’s vs. Pat’s cheese steaks, Reading Terminal Market, good high-end restaurant options (Parc, Zahav).
- Because the race start/finish is the same, with no crossing of multiple zip codes, it’s just an easier day and much better for family and spectators to get around to watch too.
- With about 500 vertical feet of climbing, the course isn’t too hilly and could be conducive to a somewhat fast time.
- The field isn’t as huge as some races, so you can get across the start line and running at pace pretty quickly.
If you’re into city marathons and haven’t run Philly yet, add it to you your list!