Each year, on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, the City of Brotherly Love welcomes runners with open arms. Since 2006 a half marathon has been added to the weekend’s events as well as an 8k and kids run prior to Sunday’s big event, the full marathon. For those looking for a weekend full of running, you can register for the Liberty Bell Challenge (half & full marathons) or the Independence challenge (8k and full marathon). With an event for everyone, Philadelphia lends itself to a great weekend getaway for all runners and their support crews.
The 13.1 half marathon course is great race for new and seasoned half marathoners. The course is relatively flat and has interesting sites throughout, as well as ample time in the heart of the city, lined with spectators to cheer you on when you need it most.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a beautiful back drop to the race’s start and finish lines and amenities. Runner’s begin the race heading Southeast of the museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The race reaches Philadelphia’s City Hall at mile 1 and continues along Market Street towards the Liberty Bell Pavilion and park. The southeast corner of the park marks mile 2 of the course, where you’ll make a left turn, running North along the park’s eastern edge, you’ll keep the historical Philadelphia Mint on your right as you turn onto Race Street and head east towards the Delaware River. As the river comes into view continue right and head South along S Christopher Columbus Blvd, passing mile marker 3 and continue for another mile. At mile 4 the race turns right to begin winding you back into downtown, North up Front Street and West along South Street to mile 5. Continue up Lombard Street to S 13th Street, making a right and hitting mile marker 6 as you reach the intersection with Market St. As you re-enter the downtown, the spectators line the sidewalks with cheers and enthusiastic applause. Proceed West on Walnut Street for just over a mile. Mile 7 is reached as you cross the Schuylkill River heading into University City. Elevation begins to rise as you take a right on 33rd Street, approaching mile 8, where shortly after the course jogs left and continues North up 34th Street, passing the Philadelphia Zoo at mile 9. Mile 9 is the steepest of the course as you climb up towards W Girard Ave bridge, again crossing over the Schuylkill and enter East Fairmount Park for the final 5k of the race. The winding park roads are a pleasant change to the city streets. Passing Smith Memorial Playground and the Mount Pleasant Mansion, miles 10, 11 and 12 are much quieter, requiring runners to dig deep for inspiration as they push towards the finish. Mile 11 -12 along Kelly Drive brings the President Grant monument into view and rowing teams can be seen gliding along the river long before you pass their many boathouses. As the rear of the Art Museum appears, it’s just another half mile, trending upward to the finish line at Eakins Oval. Once you’ve crossed the finish line, you’ll find yourself in a very well organized finish area. Spectators are allowed to enter this area as well, after going through security. In addition to post race snacks, there is also a beer tent organized by Yards Brewing, and a rock band adding to the party ambiance.
From pre-race bib pick up, along the course and at the start and finish areas, all components of the race were well organized with friendly and helpful staff and volunteers. The course itself was fun and interesting, offering out of towners a tour of this beautiful city. I would highly recommend the Philadelphia half marathon to all runners.
I finished the 2017 race with a new PR! 1:31:42
Visit the organizer's website for more details: Philadelphia Half Marathon