The Philadelphia Marathon Weekend is headed our way. It’s labeled that way because it isn’t just one race, it is a whole weekend of races and events. There are 3 races run during this weekend. On Saturday is the Rothman 8K and on Sunday is the Full and Half Marathons. If you have never experienced it, this needs to get put on your list for future races.
The city of Philadelphia comes alive during this weekend. Street lamps get Philadelphia Marathon banners on almost every block, local buses are driving around wrapped in the Marathon graphics and the buzz of the run permeates through the streets. I was walking through the city on Saturday afternoon of race weekend and I could literally feel the atmosphere of the race around me. It is hard to truly explain what this is like without really experiencing it first hand.
Everyone from the mayor of the city to local celebrities get involved. You have people like Cecily Tynan. who is well known for her work on the TV station 6 ABC and being a competitive runner, out there connecting with fellow runners. And you have the mayor of the city who has made himself a staple of this race. If you aren’t familiar, at the start of the race he is out there braving the cold and early hours high fiving runners as they come across the start line (and also as they finish). It has become such a major part of the race that there is even a Mayors High Five Award. This is awarded to a runner of the full marathon who has had an incredible journey leading up to the race.
The other part that makes this race so amazing is the size of Philadelphia. For as large of a city as Philadelphia is, it pales in comparison to the other cities in the world hosting marathons. Philadelphia’s current population is 1.5 Million. Whereas New York City is at 8.4 Million and Chicago is 2.8. At the same time Philadelphia is physically a smaller city than those two. This results in a much closer knit running community. The folks at Philadelphia Runner saw this and gave the race the tag “Our Marathon” because that’s exactly how Philadelphians feel about this run. The other cities marathons are always getting the publicity, but the Philly Marathon is a run that a Philadelphia resident can be proud of. When you have that sense of pride it leads to people caring more about the race and creating an atmosphere that can literally be felt in the air just by being in the city.
Lastly you don’t have to qualify for this race. This isn’t like Chicago’s lottery system or New York and Boston’s qualifying times where if you don’t meet a certain criteria you aren’t invited. All you have to do is log on, register and you’re in. It makes runners feel welcomed and not like they have to be a part of an exclusive club for elite runners only. No offense to those other cities, as I understand the reasoning behind how you organize your races, but with the Philly Marathon you get that big city race feel whether you are an elite runner or this is your first time at a race.
It is no secret that Philadelphia sometimes gets a bad reputation from the national public. From our crime rate to how our local sports teams fans can act, people who do not live here can get the wrong impression of the city. If you choose to run one of these races and stay the weekend, any preconceived negative notions of Philadelphia you have will turn around real quick. You will see firsthand how the Philadelphia community bands together to put on a weekend of amazing races culminating in one of the best marathons this country has to offer.
Put this race on your bucket list and see why the Philadelphia running community is one of the best in the world.