- 5 miles/8K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
I've lived in Philly for a little over 10 years and have never attempted the full Philadelphia Marathon. I completed the half marathon a few years back and was completely daunted by mental energy it would take to continue on at the half/full split. Surprisingly, it was not as bad as I built it up to be. Maybe I have a soft spot for this marathon because Philly is now the city I call home, but I think this is a well-organized and scenic race. I have never left a marathon on such a high!
Expo/Packet Pick up: This event was held at Philadelphia Convention Center, which is easy to get to on foot if you are in the city. There is parking, but for a fee. If you park at the Reading Terminal Market and purchase something there (and how couldn’t you) the fee is only $4. Volunteers were extremely helpful in directing you throughout the expo. Wind through the extensive Expo to find the packet pickup along the back wall.
SWAG/Shirts: The shirts for the female was fitted and fit to size. The long sleeves were a little short for me but I have this problem with most shirts. I do wish they would be a little more adventurous with the design. Clear swag bags (backpack style) with an assortment of toothpaste, beet juice, cough drops, coupons were pre-packaged with the shirts.
Expo: Gortex was the largest sponsor of the race and had a huge exhibit. The expo had anything and everything you expect at a large race expo. You could sign up for races, spin the wheel for items, sign up for items, purchase shoes or race apparel, buy last minute fueling things, take photos, meet people, commemorative merchandise, posters, freebies. The place had it all and you could plan an entire day to check everything out. There were also seminars throughout both days at the expo.
Pre-Race: I don’t know if they took a hint from Pope-apalooza a few weeks earlier or Boston, but the security was much greater than when I ran the half in 2012. All bags were inspected and tagged through specific security checkpoints. I entered at the 21st street entrance. After searching for the black corral, I sought out the port-a- potties, which were not outside of my corral but the lines were manageable. Volunteers were checking bibs at each corral. The race started about 10-15 minutes late but thankfully the weather was perfect for running! There are a few parking lots in the area but at the community college or street parking north of the start line (some of it restricted on Sunday). I live in the city and was able to easily ride my bike to the start line.
Surface: Standard Cityscape. Mostly Asphalt and Cement with a speckling of potholes and uneven surfaces.
Elevation: Mostly flat with hills around mile 8-10 in the west Philly area. Once you pass the half/full split the course is mostly flat.
Aid Stations: Water and Gatorade stations could be found every 2 miles or so while the Carb Boom! Energy Gels were at mile 10,17, and 22.
Spectators: There were many spectators for the first 6-9 miles until you get into the park. Around the split the crowds were thick, however on Kelly Drive, the spectators were somewhat sparse until you entered Manayunk. The finish area was 6-people deep for the last mile supporting the finishers.
Photographers: There were plenty of photographers along the way with red tape across the road to alert you to where the cameramen were and when to say “Cheese”!
Course Markings: Miles were clearly marked with timers at the 10k, the halfway split and the 30k. Though I found the markings to be quite clear, there was a young half marathoner who managed to get lost and run the full marathon!
Bathroom: Port-a potties were not outside each corral but lines were manageable and I didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes. There were ample bathrooms along the course. As always, longer lines for the bathrooms early on but deep into the race there were many bathrooms and no lines!
Scenery: Independence Mall area, South Street, a touch of west Philly prior to a tour through Fairmount Park before the half/full split. The full marathon finished up with a breeze up and down Kelly Drive to Manayunk before sliding home in front of the Art Museum.
Finish/Post Race: Upon completion of the race, I was greeted by tons of volunteers and immediately adorned with a finishers’ medal and foil wrap to keep me warm (I love those things). What’s the first thing you need after a marathon? FOOD! WATER! FAMILY & FRIENDS! Water was immediately provided. Unfortunately, I had to wait in line for 15 minutes to grab something to eat. Post race nourishment consisted of bananas, oranges, almonds, rice chips, peanut butter, chicken broth and of course the classic Philadelphia soft pretzel! After making it through the line, I thought I’d make a left hand turn and meet my friends. It would be another 10 minutes before I was able to exit the runners’ area and to meet everyone.