I have always had a dislike of all things from Philadelphia. Why? I think it is the Philadelphia Eagles. Being a Giants fan, I can’t stand the Eagles. Since I hate the Eagles, I have to hate Philadelphia. To be fair, the closest I had ever been to Philly was the old Spectrum where I got to see Motley Crue, Billy Joel, Lenny Kravitz and Tom Petty. So despite living across the river from Philly during some of my college years, this would be my first visit to the city.
…and I liked it.
I stayed at a Holiday Inn on Arch Street which was within walking distance to just about everything a tourist might want to see. The Liberty Bell, the Constitution Museum, Ben Franklin’s Grave, and the place Thomas Jefferson wrote some declaration were all easy walking distance. I could also walk to the Expo and the starting line. It seemed like a beautiful city and I regretted not having my family.
I got involved in this race when I found out my old roommate from college, Matt was running the race. I haven’t seen him in over a decade and thought it would be nice to see him. If all goes well he will be coming down to Maryland for a race next month.with to take in some of the sights.
Pre Race: The race organizers did a nice job with keeping information up to date and sending emails as the race got closer. They also updated their Facebook page more and more often as the race got close. I think having a Facebook presence can be extremely helpful in advertising the race and keeping entrants up to date with what is happening. More and more events seem to be taking advantage of social media and I think it is for the best.
This race had an expo on Friday and Saturday before the race. There was limited race day packet pickup available on a first come first serve basis which is helpful for those of you out-of-towners who couldn’t make it to the expo. Expos aren’t my favorite but I understand they are a necessary evil. All I ask is that you give me a chance to get in and out quickly if I want to. I arrived around 3:30 on Saturday and I was 2nd in line for my corral. They also had a booth to change your corral if you needed to. P.S.–no one was verifying corrals on race day so I don’t think it mattered in the end. I was able to get my packet, shirt and swag bag quickly. I had to fight to get through the Expo but it was bearable.
Race Day:I woke up at 6am for the 8am start time. I knew I had a bit of a walk to make it to the starting line. I was guestimating about 2 miles. I wasn’t the only one walking from the Holiday Inn so I just meandered behind the pack to get to the start line around 0715. The lines for the bathrooms weren’t bad at this point so I hopped on the line. I stretched for a bit and then realized I had to pee one last time. At 0745 the lines were a lot longer and I was 3rd in line when the race official started. I was in corral 11 though so I knew I has time (they were sending corrals every 1-2 minutes apart). Amazingly I found Matt and we were able to blend into our corral and wander down to the starting line.
The Race:This race is advertised as being flat and a good place to set a PR. I can’t argue with that. I have never run such a flat course. Having just run the Annapolis 10 Miler, this was amazing. The course was flat and pretty shady as well. You run through the city center and then out along the river. They have bands along the way, plenty of water stations, and plenty of people cheering you on. I have to say it was pretty awesome. The worst band was a group in Eagles jerseys sing “Fly Eagles Fly”. I didn’t know the douchebags had their own song.
…but I digress
My race went OK. I think my body is still tired from Annapolis. My left hammy was sore and I have some nagging pain in my right upper butt cheek (TMI..I know). If there are any experts on nagging upper right butt cheek pain please contact me…. So my legs were tired, but I was never out of breath or even winded. The miles didn’t exactly fly by I was able to finish the race without walking. I finished in 2:00:32. My goal was 2 hrs so I was right on pace.
Note to runners: 1. Running two across = OK 2. Running three across = only if there is a lot of space 3. Running four across = NO, you have built a wall across the road
Post Race: If there was one complaint I had it was at the finish line. It got real crowded real fast. The line out was getting backed up as people tried to stop and get some of the freebies available at the finish area. I personally just want to find a little bit of space to stretch out and not be jostled by 15,000 other runners. I know logistically that is a tall order but I felt they could have spaced things out just a little bit further from the finish. At the finish there should be water and a medal, then some space and then the rest of the stuff. That being said they had a huge assortment of stuff. I saw: water, orange Gatorade, Snickers Marathon bars (delicious), Hershey chocolate milk (delicious and cold), chips, bagels and bananas. Just an opinion but some people take a little more than their share. I saw at least two people stuff bags full of goodies and roll out.
I tried in vain to find my roommate and his family, but I was tired and my phone battery was dead so I meandered back to my hotel. There were 15,000 people to fight through and I absolutely hate the close quarters with strangers. And as my wife will tell you, finding people after a race is not my strong suit. I knew the Eagles/Ravens game was in town and I didn’t want to get trapped in Eaglesville so I blew out-of-town.
Goodies: It was a bigger race so there were more goodies than a smaller venue. You got a nice technical shirt, a swag bag, coupons and flyers to every race in America, and all the food you could stuff in your bag at the finish line. Of course there was the medal:
I would give this race 4.75 stars. I thought for a large race it was very well-organized. The city and course are beautiful. I will run this again next year and bring my family along to see some of the sites. All I would ask is to cut back on a little of the congestion at the finish and don’t allow anyone to sing “Fly Eagles Fly” on the course.