THE PHILADELPHIA HALF MARATHON, NOVEMBER 18, 2007

ON YOUR MARK. GET SET. YO!


Running the Marine Corps Marathon had to be deferred due to an ankle injury, but rehab went well enough to test out the ankle during the Philadelphia Half Marathon, before the big test in December. In Philadelphia, it's all about Rocky and history.

The marathon and half marathon are run together through historic Philadelphia: past Independence Hall; the Constitution Center; and Penn's Landing, among other historical landmarks. The two races share a finish line in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art stairs, the same stairs made famous by Rocky's fist-pumping, triumphant climb.

While organization for the race could be improved (i.e., some directions were incorrect, the expo had long lines to pick-up bibs, and the race started 15 minutes late), the excitement of the runners and spectators made up for these inconveniences. Temps were in the 30s at the start, but thankfully the anticipated snow held off until Sunday afternoon.

Picture taking was drastically curtailed during this race, but I did manage to get a few photos of some of the wonderful runners I met along the route. I did learn something very helpful in Philadelphia: Mennonite smorgasbords are great places for pre-race carb loading.

Happy Thanksgiving!


We began to see the colors of fall on our approach into the Atlanta airport.

The changing leaves in Philly were brilliant.

Two days before the race and clouds were hanging low in the Pennsylvania sky.



The Marathon Expo was held at Temple University's Liacouras Center.


The expo was somewhat small, but I was able to find Gu and a pack for my camera.


Maria was one of the many race volunteers distributing bibs. Notice the white labels on the bibs. The labels are a new timing system, the SAI Timing & Tracking System, used during the Philadelphia Marathon after being tested in 4 other races. Some of the runners expressed concern about not using the Champion Chip system, as was advertised for this race. The SAI System's website lists the Philadelphia Marathon as one of the System's "test" races: SAI Timing & Tracking System
[UPDATE: As of 12/03/07, mention of the Philadelphia Marathon as a "test" race was removed from SAI's website.]

The SAI website says the SAI System is "ready to be used around the world." The labels seemed to work well - without having to stop and have a chip removed from your shoe at the end of the race. We were warned to keep the labels away from our cell phones.

Leaving the Expo we drove past several quaint Pennsylvania villages.


The SAI label is peeled from a runner's bib and strung on a shoelace. It was great to be able to forget it was there.

A frigid Philly morning greets the runners.


The race started a few blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Note the runners and spectators experiencing a "Rocky Moment" on the stairs. I thought seriously about running up the stairs, then thought better.

Always good to know what the finish line looks like before starting a race.

We stayed warm behind an RV parked in front of the Museum, and met Jen and Erin, experienced, and friendly, half-marathoners. It was great meeting you two. Hope your races went well.

The view toward the start. Marathon runners and half-marathon runners started from side-by-side corrals along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The half marathon didn't have pace teams, so I lined up toward the second half of the pack.

What a great idea for cold race mornings - shoe cozies. This man bought his at the Chicago Marathon - last year.

Tara, Megan, and Jenna were running the half marathon in loving memory of Megan's Uncle Joe. I hope your race was everthing you wanted it to be.

It was great to be running a race in the US again, and to be farther from the back of the pack.

I took very few pictures during the half marathon, so you won't see Independence Hall, the Constitution Center, the Mint, or Benjamin Franklin's grave in the pictures below. To tell you the truth, though the map says we ran past these sites, being in a crowd of people with spectators lining many of the historic streets, I didn't see the sites myself.

I thought about including pictures from a previous visit to Philadelphia in 1976 for the Bicentennial, but pictures of a sweltering July 4th, Queen Elizabeth waving from her limo window, and Fife and Drum corps parading down Market Street would have looked out-of-place.

These are the small shops along South Street, just after mile 4.

Miles 6-7, running along Chestnut Street.

Crossing the Schuylkill River just before mile 7.

According to the Philadelphia Marathon website, Runner's World has chosen this marathon as one of the best to achieve a Boston qualifying time. Miles 8, 9, and 10, run primarily along 34th Street, presented the only hills we encountered during the half marathon. Some were a bit steep, but none was very long. People who ran the full marathon confirmed that these were the only hills on the course.

Another picture of the tree canopy along 34th Street. The man with the black hat and white shirt is Don, who was running his first marathon at the age of 54. He said his daughter coaxed him into running - she was running her first marathon with the 4 hour pace team. Hope you and your daughter had great races, Don!

Near mile 11, after passing the Philadelphia Zoo, we ran through beautiful Fairmount Park. This building is Memorial Hall, the only major building remaining from the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

Passing the Smith Memorial Arch at the entranceway to Fairmount Park.

Hank and I were greeted at the finish by throngs of cheering spectators. Little did we know, they were cheering for the third and fourth place finishers of the full marathon (on the left of the picture).

Thanks for your help, Hank. Congratulations on a great run!

Time: 2:34:26

The finish area was very well organized, as runners were given thermal blankets, presented medals by volunteers expressing warm congratulations, then directed through the food tent where hot chicken broth, bananas, and of course Philly Soft Pretzels were available.


Snow began falling Sunday afternoon and had accumulated on car windshields as we left Philly on Monday morning.

The Philadelphia Half Marathon was by far the coldest race I've run to date. I need some sunshine! Aloha.

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