Sunday, February 7, 2016

The beauty of individual competition

Over the next week or so, Sports Doc will be profiling all types of marathon runners, male and female, experienced and beginners, record-setting champions and people just excited to run and hopefully finish the race.

The beauty of individual competition

Mayor Nutter gives runners a high-five at last year´s Philadelphia Marathon.
Mayor Nutter gives runners a high-five at last year's Philadelphia Marathon.

This is just part of our coverage of this year's Philadelphia Marathon. You can read all of the articles at And don't forget to join us there on race day to follow the action.

By Rob Senior

My sports background consists entirely of team activities. Whether playing, coaching, officiating or covering events as a writer, every athletic competition I’ve entered was team vs. team. One group was going home happy, while the other would have to wait for another day.

Covering the Philadelphia Marathon has been an eye-opening experience. The event has over 28,000 participants, including half-marathon runners. Realistically, about 50 of these competitors—25 men and 25 women—have a legitimate shot at winning the event. So what’s in it for the other 99.9 percent?

Over the next week or so, you’ll find out, just as I did. Sports Doc will be profiling all types of marathon runners, male and female, experienced and beginners, record-setting champions and people just excited to run and hopefully finish the race.

You’ll meet a few of those select competitors with a chance at winning the event, like yesterday’s guest blogger Kelly Calway. You’ll get to know Meredith Lambert, a Main Line lawyer who doubles as a former United States Women’s Marathon Team trial runner. Lambert is hoping Philadelphia will be her first step back to the 2016 trials.

Ardmore’s own Mike McKeeman finished second in the 2006 marathon—and let’s just say he’s looking to improve his finish this time. You’ll hear Mike’s story of training with Olympians and elite coaches in hopes of attaining his goal.

But marathon weekend is more than just Sunday’s race. Saturday’s Rothman Institute 8K will feature Hugh Campbell, 88 years young, who earlier this year shattered the 5K national record for runners age 85-89. Hugh will share his tale of taking up running two years ago, at the age of 86, and reaching such lofty heights.

We’ll feature the incredible story of Amy McDonaugh, a mother of three who is legally blind and won a Cincinnati Marathon in the spring of 2011. Since then, Amy’s been racking up 5K, 8K and half-marathon victories and will go for top honors in Philadelphia next weekend.

You’ll be inspired by Chip Bearden, who overcame considerable obstacles to finish the Philadelphia Marathon two years ago and now hopes to return at full strength for this year’s event. And you’ll be moved by South Philly’s Linda Reilly, who runs for the hopes of an entire community—and for two very special men in her life.

Finally, we’ll take you to the end—or perhaps a ‘mile’stone—of a journey with Mike Fanelli of San Francisco. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Fanelli began running at Bishop McDevitt High School in the early 1970s and has kept meticulous records of his running ever since. Now, Mike is returning home for a crowning achievement. At some point during next week’s race, Mike Fanelli will run his 100,000th lifetime mile.

Through it all, running coach Mark Sullivan will be there to guide you through the course the marathon runners will take on Sunday. Sullivan is one of only two people to compete in every Philadelphia Marathon since 1994 and will offer pointers on several course landmarks through our interactive map.

And so honestly, I found myself a little jealous of these competitors after hearing their stories, their setbacks and their triumphs. For all my great memories—and hopefully, great experiences still ahead of me in team sports, one fact will remain—there’s going to be a winner, and there’s going to be a loser. Next Sunday, Philadelphia will celebrate 28,000 winners.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Whether you are a weekend warrior, an aging baby boomer, a student athlete or just someone who wants to stay active, this blog is for you. Read about our growing list of expert contributors here.

J. Ryan Bair, PT, DPT, SCS Founder and Owner of FLASH Sports Physical Therapy, Board Certified in Sports Physical Therapy
Brian Cammarota, ATC, PT, DPT, CSCS Physical Therapist at Good Shepard Penn Partners, Partner at Symetrix Sports Performance
Desirea D. Caucci, PT, DPT, OCS Co-owner of Conshohocken Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Michael G. Ciccotti, M.D. Head Team Physician for Phillies & St. Joe's; Rothman Institute
Julie Coté, PT, MPT, OCS, COMT Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Peter F. DeLuca, M.D. Head Team Physician for Eagles, Head Orthopedic Surgeon for Flyers; Rothman Institute
Brittany Everett Owner, Grace & Glory Yoga Fishtown
Joel H. Fish, Ph.D. Director of The Center For Sport Psychology; Sports Psychology Consultant for 76ers & Flyers
R. Robert Franks, D.O. Team Physician for USA Wrestling, Consultant for Phillies; Rothman Institute
Ashley B. Greenblatt, ACE-CPT Certified Personal Trainer, The Sporting Club at The Bellevue
Jon Herting, PT, DPT, CSCS, HFS, USAW Physical Therapist, Partner at The Training Room
Eugene Hong, MD, CAQSM, FAAFP Team Physician for Drexel, Philadelphia Univ., Saint Joe’s, & U.S. Lacrosse
Brian Maher, BS, CSCS Owner, Philly Personal Training
Julia Mayberry, M.D. Attending Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon, Main Line Hand Surgery P.C.
Gavin McKay, NASM-CPT Founder/Franchisor, Unite Fitness
Heather Moore, PT, DPT, CKTP Owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, North Wales and Hatfield, PA
Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC Athletic Trainer for US Soccer Federation; Aria 3B Orthopaedic Institute
Thomas Trojian MD, CAQSM, FACSM Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at Drexel University
Robyn Weisman, ACE-CPT B.S., Exercise Science & Physiology, Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness and Lifestyle Coach
Sarah M. Whitman, MD Sports Psychiatrist; Clinical Assistant Professor, Drexel University College of Medicine
Latest Videos
Also on
letter icon Newsletter