It swings left into Arch Street, and on to Independence Mall where it
passes the imposing US Mint, which has been in operation since the
inception of the republic, and the Christ Church Burial Ground where
Benjamin Franklin rests. At 4th Street it does a tight turn left, followed by
a tight turn right into Race Street. It then proceeds down to the bank of
the Delaware River where it turns right into Columbus Boulevard. Admire
the Benjamin Franklin Bridge here, a good place to run but not today.
This is the 2-mile mark. Up to this point the course has been a gentle
downhill but can be a little congested so do not bother wasting energy
trying to advance in the field in this early stage. The next 1.5 miles along
Columbus Boulevard are flat and more open so a great place to relax
and establish your pace. You will pass historic Penn’s Landing and the
Independence Seaport Museum with its fine ships.
At Washington Avenue (roughly 3.5 miles) the course swings right. For
the next 2.5 miles be ready for a long, gradual uphill with plenty of crowd
support. The course goes right into narrow Front Street. At Downey’s
Pub take a tight left into South Street, followed by a tight right into 6th
Street. Continue past Washington Square to Chestnut Street and go left
at one of the most historic intersections of the nation. On your right is
Independence Square which includes Independence Hall, where the
Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution originated. Ahead
and to the right is the Liberty Bell Pavilion where the famous bell now
resides. This is the 5-mile mark.
|Benjamin Franklin Parkway
|Christ Church Burial Ground
Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon Courses:
Commentary and Tips
by Warwick Ford, Fun on Foot
The Philadelphia Marathon and Half
Marathon are held on a Sunday in
mid-November. For runners who have
not done these events before, here is
some commentary on the courses.
Both events start and finish at Eakins
Oval in front of the imposing
Philadelphia Museum of Art, which
houses over 300,000 pieces of art. The
half marathon course is essentially the
first half of the marathon course and
both events start simultaneously.
For a city visitor staying at one of the
many Center City hotels within a mile of
Eakins Oval, you have the luxury of just
walking there, along with many other
runners, immediately before the start.
This way you can avoid the stresses of
overloaded street traffic, taxi, and
The course heads down the eastbound
lanes of wide, attractive Benjamin
Franklin Parkway, with its many
imposing buildings and sculptures.
Proceed up Chestnut Street to Broad
Street where City Hall is prominent on
the right. Around this point the course
flattens, except for another rise at the
Schuylkill River Bridge. Once across
that bridge, around the 7-mile mark,
you enter University City and the
campus of Drexel University. You can
expect many enthusiastic onlookers
lining this stretch through campus.
At 34th Street, go right, still in Drexel.
After crossing Market Street near the
7.5-mile mark, you encounter the first
substantial uphill of the course. In fact,
the next 2 miles will involve various
grades, making it the most challenging
part of the course for runners who are
hill-averse. 34th Street takes you out
of the built-up area and past the
Philadelphia Zoo. You cross Girard
Avenue and go under the rail tracks
into Lansdowne Drive. At the 9-mile
mark you encounter the steepest
uphill of the course, climbing for about
a half-mile up into the most beautiful
part of West Fairmount Park.
The scenery up here is nothing short of breathtaking. The course takes
you past the spectacular Memorial Hall, now housing the Please Touch
Museum, and between the majestic towers of the Smith Civil War
You then go downhill about a half-mile to Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.
This road, which follows the west bank of the Schuylkill River, is popular
with runners because it is closed to vehicle traffic for much of its length
on weekends from April to October. Marathoners and Half-Marathoners
follow this road about 2 miles downstream to the Museum of Art where
the Half Marathon concludes.
For Marathoners, a few words of caution regarding this point in the
course. First, be sure to get in the correct lane as early as you can -
you really do not want to cross the Half Marathon finish line. Second,
don’t be put off by the fact that many runners seem to be doing much
better than you all of a sudden, rushing past at a fast pace. These are
almost certainly Half Marathoners, who can afford to act that way.
The Marathon continues up the Schuylkill on its east side, past the
colorful boathouses that form Boathouse Row. It continues to Main
Street Manayunk, where it turns around and backtracks to finish in front
of the Museum of Art. This second half of the Marathon course is very
different in some respects from the first part. First it is quite flat with no
major hills. The most significant rise is actually the rise up to Eakins
Oval from Boathouse Row in the final half-mile. Another major
difference is that crowds will be much sparser on the second half of the
route. The exceptions to this are in downtown Manayunk, around miles
19-20, where the crowds tend to be large and enthusiastic, and also
near the finish. However, the scenery throughout this second half of the
route is beautiful throughout, being within sight of the Schuylkill River
most of the way.
Be sure to take in that scenery and let it help you take your mind off the
fatigue and pain that hit so many marathoners in the final few miles.
Enjoy your day out on what is unquestionably one of the world’s most
interesting and enjoyable marathon courses. I hope you meet your
personal goals, whatever they may be.
(C) Copyright, Warwick Ford, 2010-2015
|The Philadelphia runners guide book
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