One of the most historic races in the nation, the Philadelphia Marathon is back for its 19th year on November 16-18. (Top left and bottom right photos by M. Kennedy for GPTMC, bottom left courtesy Philadelphia Marathon)
Runners, fans, spectators and local businesses are gearing up for the 19th Annual Philadelphia Marathon — one of the top ten races in America — and it’s going to be bigger than ever this year thanks to some weather-induced, hospitable accommodations initiated by Mayor Michael Nutter.
The already typically booming Philadelphia Marathon weekend will be jam-packed with visitors and all sort of fun events including a free health and fitness expo at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, four exciting races, 24 cheer zones for fans and plenty of spirit-enhancing food and hot drinks.
Another new feature this year: some awesome green initiatives that have also been orchestrated by the Mayor’s Office.
Below is our official guide to this year’s 19th Annual Race Weekend:
• The Race Schedule: Two races will be held on Saturday, November 17: the Rothman Institute 8K at 7:30 a.m., and the Kids Fun Run at 10:30 a.m. for children ages 6-14. Come back out on Sunday for the main events. The Half Marathon and the full Marathon both kick off at 7 a.m. All races begin at 22nd Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and can be viewed throughout the city (see below for suggestions).
• The Courses: While the routes for the races are all a little bit different, spectators can see them all from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 18th Street and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and along Martin Luther King, Jr. from Spring Garden Street to Montgomery Drive. Course maps are included below.
• Dining for Runners and Families: New this year, the marathon has organized an event called Carb Load With Choose Your Course, happening on Satuday, November 17, the night before the main event. Select restaurants like Waterworks, Phillip’s Seafood and City Tap House will be designing special prix-fixe menus to help runners load up on carbs for a solid foundation for the race.
Best Places to Catch the Action
• 22nd Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway: All of the races start and finish at 22nd Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, so if you’re trying to get a look at them all, one good bet is to show up early and find a spot at that intersection.
• Old City: For those predominantly interested in seeing the Marathon and Half Marathon, we might recommend taking in some historic scenery at the same time. Since these two races go along Arch Street between 16th and 4th Streets and Race Street between 4th Street and Columbus Boulevard, Old City will be a cool place to watch the action.
• Schuylkill River: Another option is to assume position along the Schuylkill River since the marathon will run all the way along Kelly Drive and onto Main Street in Manayunk.
• Cheer Zones: Don’t feel like navigating the crowds in hopes of stumbling upon a spot with a view? It’s definitely a smart idea to look up one of the two dozen Cheer Zones the marathon’s been kind enough to map out.
• What to Bring: Bring something to sit on, blankets, warm clothes, cheer eading props and signs and any Philadelphia Marathon accessories you can get your hands on.
• How to Get Involved: With the influx of runners from far and wide this year, the Philadelphia Marathon will need all the help they can get to keep these races running smoothly. Interested individuals and groups can sign up for a variety of different volunteer opportunities and shifts here. For those interested in helping the Mayor’s Office keep the litter and marathon mess under control, check out Waste Watchers.
• The Health + Fitness Expo: This will be the sixth year of this comprehensive sport vending exposition. Stop by on Friday between noon and 9 p.m. or Saturday from 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. for expert advice on health and fitness, demos from more than 80 sporting goods outfitters and raffles with tons of gift certificate prizes up for grabs. There will also be a number of information seminars for those looking to have some last-minute marathon questions answered. While there will be plenty of resources for runners, this is an event open to anyone. They’ll even have information for visitors and fans on where to get some good bites and how to enjoy historic Philadelphia.
Whether you’re in town just for the races, a sports enthusiast looking to celebrate or just a resident looking to take advantage of some city-wide sports action, check here for a list of hotels offering discounted rates.
Don’t forget to grab your free Fan Pass at the Health and Fitness Expo, either. Throughout the entire three days of the marathon weekend, select businesses nearby the racing routes will be offering specials for fans with this weekend pass.
And you just thought you were going to be watching thousands of people run themselves ragged in the cold? No way. You can spoil yourself and make a weekend out of these races and all of the cool events and deals coinciding with the marathon all while cheering on the die-hards.
Good luck to all the runners!
Philadelphia Marathon 2012
When: November 16-18
Where: Expo at the Pennsylvania Convention Center; runs begin and end at 22nd Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost: Free to watch
More info: www.philadelphiamarathon.com