Happy Friday! My friend at work, Jamie, ran the Philadelphia Marathon this year. I was very interested in what she thought of it since I’ve been considering it for my first full marathon next year, and I thought others might be interested too. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on it for my blog. Here’s her recap!
The Philadelphia Marathon on November 22, 2015 was my second full marathon. The day went even better than I had hoped, so it will be my last full as I plan to stick to half marathons from now on. My goal will be to run a half each fall in a different city, so I’ll be looking for recommendations! Here is my take on running the Philly Marathon. I will preface this by mentioning that I’ve only run Pittsburgh events, and the Burgh is a tough city to beat. 🙂
|Jamie, all smiles after finishing the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon|
Highlights for me:
- Running through a new city with so many historic buildings and sights.
- Rocky theme song played throughout the entire start and first mile. The start/finish line is close to the Rocky steps and statue so it was very symbolic. And who doesn’t get pumped when the Rocky theme song plays?
- Well-organized race overall.
- One of the last races of the season (which is why I decided on Philly), and the weather was PERFECT—the temps were steady in the high 40s from start to finish and it was cloudy.
- There were plenty of porta-potties lining the corral entrances, but they didn’t all have hand sanitizer and were not flushable (Pittsburgh upgrades here).
- The expo was what you’d expect—lots of vendors.
- The finisher medals are great! They are Liberty Bells that actually ring, so all the finishers were walking around the city ringing.
- Spending the weekend in the city was fun—there’s so much to do and eat in Philly.
- It was easy for friends and family to navigate the city and see me several times along the course.
- I really enjoyed the marathon—I had a great run (so much better than my first marathon) and smiled the whole race. This is why Philly will be my last full—it can’t get any better!
Things that I think could have been better:
- There wasn’t a t-shirt size exchange at the expo. The Gore-Tex shirts run small.
- As expected with a larger race, the course was crowded for the first several miles but really opened up after the half marathon broke off to finish.
- The hill at the zoo (mile 8.5) is a hill. I thought after training in Pittsburgh that Philly’s hills would be a joke. I ran up it fine (many people walked), but just be prepared for a pretty good hill.
- It was breezy, which along the 6.5 miles up Kelly Drive was at your face, but that meant a nice tailwind on the last 6.5 miles of the course.
- The fan support didn’t meet my expectations. There were a lot of fans along some parts of the course, but they were not cheering on the runners as I’ve experienced in Pittsburgh. Cheer zones were just a few people, and the marathon didn’t include college bands, cheerleaders, local bands, block parties, etc. If you like to run with headphones, definitely bring them; most areas along the course were pretty quiet. I was surprised with how little music was playing along the course. The second half of the course along Kelly Drive had very little fan support, except for when you reach Manayunk around mile 20 (so that was helpful!).
- Similar to the fan support, there was little runner comradery. Runners had their headphones on and were in their own zone. When I celebrated reaching mile 24, no one else reacted or responded. Even when I was running with a pace group, people in the group weren’t talking – just the pacer (who was awesome!).
- Security was increased, which was appreciated, but there were really long lines to gain entrance into the secured area before the start.
- Race communication was not done well. The Marathon didn’t send emails until very close to race day—I’m used to getting emails from the Pittsburgh Marathon several times a month, even when I’m not signed-up for an event. Their social media wasn’t very active and they posted tips and advice about training a month before the race, which was a little late. On race day when the security lines were long at one entrance, no one working (police or volunteers) knew where the other entrances were. Overall, I think poor communication would be the biggest negative of the race.
- During the race there was no water out at the first stop so everyone had to wait for the water to be poured—not sure what happened. The other stops were all fine.
- Porta-potties along the course always seem to have such long lines and Philly was no exception. I waited several minutes (I’m guessing close to 5 minutes) to use the restroom around mile 5.
- At the finish of the race I had to wait in line to get snacks. By the time I finished the crowd had already thinned out, so I can imagine that the line at the end of the half was fairly long. After running for so long it’s hard for your body to have to stop and wait in a line.
Congratulations to Jamie for completing her second marathon and having a great race!