Marathon season in Philadelphia starts next Sunday, September 15, when over 22,000 runners plan to take part in the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon.
The race, which officially sold out on Wednesday, kicks off at 8 a.m. sharp that morning. But the half-marathon is a weekend-long event that celebrates a Philadelphia tradition dating back to the 1970s.
“It started in 1978 as the Philadelphia Distance Run, and became the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in 2010,” explains Adam Zocks, vice-president and general manager for the event.
Since the event became a part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series—which holds similar races across the country—Zocks says the turnout has been up-and-down from year to year. 2013 is going to be an ‘up’ year.
“This will be the biggest turnout yet—the race sold out when we got to 22,500 competitors,” he says.
Next weekend begins with the Health & Fitness Expo to be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday (9/13) and Saturday (9/14) Over 60 exhibitors will be on hand showcasing the latest running gear and apparel. All runners must stop by the Expo at some point to pick up their race number, ‘swag bag’ and t-shirt.
On Sunday, September 15, the focus shifts to Benjamin Franklin Parkway, just west of 22nd Street—the start line. Competitors will run through Center City on Market Street before making a turn onto Arch to head out towards Kelly Drive. The race turns back towards downtown at the Falls Bridge, with runners traversing MLK Drive before reaching the finish line in front of the Art Museum.
While the 13.1-mile course is plenty challenging, Zocks and the Rock ‘n’ Roll staff are determined to make this a fun event, with bands, spirit squads and other entertainment located along the course. Once the race is complete, competitors and their families are invited to attend a free concert right at Eakins Oval, featuring Canadian rock band Walk Off the Earth.
“These events are all about having the entertainment along the course—taking the traditional event and making it more compelling, more exciting,” concludes Zocks. “But in the end it’s still all about running fast. We’ve got a lot of high-quality runners out there, as well as the everyday runners.”
Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.