In late September, we profiled Center City resident Rebecca Schaefer who planned to take the famed “Gonna Fly Now” training montage in Rocky II and turn it into an event for Philadelphians, Rocky fans and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Inspired by a now-famous blog post by Dan McQuade, Rebecca pieced together the Rocky 50K Run, a race that will follow a course that’s as similar as possible to the one Sylvester Stallone traversed in the (first) sequel. She’s tweaked the course to make it legal (“They’re not going to let us run on any train tracks,” she laments) and to make it exactly 31 miles, or 50 kilometers.
The run is not a race, Rebecca is quick to point out on the event’s website, where she describes the Rocky 50K thusly: “No Fees, No Awards, No Aid, No Wimps.” There’s no charge to enter, nor is there a trophy, participation medal, etc. All that’s promised is a course on which to run.
And what a course it is, as evidenced by this map. The outing will start at 7 a.m. Saturday morning at Wolf and South Lambert Streets in South Philadelphia—the intersection nearest Rocky’s house in the movie—and proceed out toward Columbus Boulevard before moving into the Port Richmond/Kensington neighborhoods.
Just past mile 8, the run turns onto Broad Street where competitors will head up towards City Hall before ultimately taking 2nd Street back towards those Kensington neighborhoods for a second time a trip along the aforementioned train tracks “We’ll be running parallel to the tracks,” Rebecca clarifies.
The run finishes downtown, travelling over Kelly Drive, Chestnut Street and the Parkway before concluding (where else?) on the steps of the Art Museum.
Given the nature of the event, nothing is required of runners—meaning people can run the whole time, or join in halfway through the route, or even just for the final few miles. Those who will be at the starting line are encouraged to bring any used shoes—running shoes, dress shoes, etc.—for donations to Back on My Feet, a local running club dedicated to inspiring those experiencing homelessness.
Of course, the Rocky movies are not only legendary in Philadelphia—and Rebecca Schaefer has learned that firsthand in preparing this race. “I guess I just didn’t know how huge [the movie] is globally,” she admits. “We have 1100 people in our Rocky 50K Run Facebook group, which includes people from all over the world. Runner’s World magazine did a little blurb on the run. A Brazilian TV station even did a piece where they interviewed me.”
The nature of the event makes it difficult to track how many people will be part of the run, but Rebecca seems optimistic as to the turnout. “I’m not exactly sure what to expect,” she admits. “I plan to run the whole course, and then stick around to cheer on other people.”
“And of course, if people decide to take that celebration to a local watering hole, I’m happy to join them.”
The only thing that hasn’t been decided is the weather—and that is up in the air. At the beginning of the week, freezing rain was forecasted, but those chances have steadily decreased as the run gets closer. As of today, the forecast calls for the run to begin under cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-30s. Cold, to be sure, but nothing that would’ve stopped a guy who worked out in a meat freezer.
“In Rocky IV, he ran up a freakin’ mountain in the snow!” said Rebecca. “I don’t think a little rain is going to stop anything.”
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