Why we can't wait for the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon

One of the largest waves to start 2012's 19th annual Philadelphia Marathon with the Art Museum in the background. (Charles Fox/Staff)

For the last 20 years, the fitness-minded community around Philadelphia has come to enjoy a new, unofficial kickoff to the holiday season.

Sure, Thanksgiving may be more than a week away when it happens — but when over 30,000 runners take to the streets the weekend of November 15-17 for the 2013 GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon, we know the holidays are just around the corner.

This year’s Philadelphia Marathon weekend brings with it a new title sponsor and a celebration of 20 years of the current version of the 26.2-mile race through Center City, University Park and the famous finish on the Parkway.

The expected number of competitors in 2013 will cement the Philly Marathon’s place among the top-10 marathons in the United States--a remarkable achievement for a race that, relative to its counterparts in places like New York and Boston, is quite new.

Here on Sports Doc, the Philly Marathon holds a special place as well. Event coverage was a big part of our own unofficial kickoff last fall. We profiled the unforgettable Michael Fanelli, who ran his 100,000th lifetime mile during the 2012 Marathon. We met Hugh Campbell, a record-setting runner in his own right at the age of 88. And perhaps the highlight—Ardmore’s Michael McKeeman, who won the 2012 race the day after being profiled on this blog.

In the coming weeks, we’ll catch up with a few of these competitors — has McKeeman gone through with his Marathon retirement plans? Will Hugh Campbell run into his 90s? — while introducing you to the 2013 field as well.

Last year, we met Mark Sullivan, one of only two individuals to run every Philadelphia Marathon to date. Mark offered a mile-by-mile tour through the course. This year, he’s back in more ways than one — back on Sports Doc offering more helpful tips to competitors, and back on the Parkway for an impressive 20th consecutive Marathon.

You'll also meet people who've overcome physical hardships, overwhelming odds and personal tragedy to reach the starting line next month. Among them will be a first responder to April's tragedy at the Boston marathon, who plans to march the entire course in full uniform in Philadelphia.

Sunday’s Marathon may be the icing on the cake, but there’s so much more to the weekend. We’ll go inside the free, two-day health expo at the Pennsylvania Convention Center to be held on Friday and Saturday, November 15-16. We’ll learn more about Saturday’s Rothman Institute 8K and the Kids’ Fun Run. Finally, we’ll have profiles, features and other news leading up to our live coverage of the 20th Philadelphia Marathon starting at 7 a.m. on Sunday, November 17th.

See you at the finish line!

Stay tuned for more 2013 GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon coverage at philly.com/phillymarathon.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.