Friday, April 29, 2016

Big changes coming to Philadelphia Marathon race weekend

Jen Miller has been lobbying for changes to the Philadelphia Marathon for years.  She wrote about it over a year ago as part of her column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, suggesting many concrete changes that seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Until today, that is.

Imagine her surprise to read a press release from the marathon this afternoon in which they laid out the many major changes coming to the 2016 edition of the race.  Almost every change was something Jen at one time suggested (and even some that I suggested, which I'm sure resulted from my widely read blog post on the subject).

Among the prominent changes:

  • The race leadership will move from the Mayor's office to the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, the same department that handles the Broad Street Run, the nation's largest 10 miler, and the 6th biggest race of any size.
  • The winner will now receive $10,000, more than double the size of the previous prize purse.
  • The course has been altered to be more runner friendly, including removing the infamous out-and-back across the Falls Bridge that was inexplicably added to the course over five years ago.
  • The half marathon will now take place on Saturday, removing congestion from the course for each race.

I've written about the Philadelphia Marathon a lot.  It's my hometown race.  It was my first marathon ever back in 2005.  I've run it six times and have PR'd each time.  My dad also ran it back in the 80's. I plan to run it many more times in the future, maybe even some day with my own son.  So there's a certain level of investment I have in this race, not to mention a lot of nostalgia, which means I'm happy these changes have finally come to the race I have loved for years in spite of its imperfections.

But it is also incredibly vexing, especially given my performance last fall.  For those new around here: I gave it my all in training last fall in an effort to break 3 hours, only to come up short on race day by a mere one minute and seven seconds.  It's easy to play the what if game in such a scenario; what if I had done more of x?  What if I had done less of y?  What if the course had been altered last year and I didn't have to run that stupid Falls Bridge detour? Would that have made the difference?

I also remember finishing the race last fall and not being able to get any food because the line was too crowded with half marathoners.  Not having to share a finish line or post race food with hordes of half marathoners would have been nice.

Coming to terms with missing my sub 3 goal - what was most likely my only shot at it - has been difficult, and the timing of all of these needed changes feels like rubbing salt in the wound.

But let's not end on such a dour note.  I can't overstate my excitement for the changes to the race and what it will mean for the race's future.  Hopefully people outside of Philly will start to realize what I've been saying for years: this is a fantastic race.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really intrigued about the changes to Philly Marathon weekend too! I actually signed up to run the full for the first time this year, so I'm hoping that the changes to the course will make it a better experience! I do think they should have communicated the news before opening up registration, but we'll see what happens!


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