The Philly Marathon is this coming weekend and I have cheered at this race more than any other. I was recently chatting with a few folks that will be cheering for friends and family this year and trying to explain my location strategies for maximum viewing potential.
While I was drawing with my fingers on the table and explaining my route, I thought it might be easier if I just wrote a blog post! And here we are!
When I’m cheering, it’s usually for a friend staying with me, so I end up being there super early to escort them to the starting area.
If time is on your side and you’re chilling on the streets of Philadelphia (please sing along with me), my suggestion is to visit the Starbucks located at 16th and Arch Street. It opens at 6:30, which is a half hour before the elites begin and leaves you plenty of time to grab something yummy before staking out your spot on the street.
Make sure you’re standing near cool people, get comfy (dress for the weather and have comfortable shoes on), and get ready to CHEER!
I start off right by the purple star, just past LOVE Park. There’s some construction in the area but you should be able to grab a prime spot to catch your runner just after they hit the mile mark of the marathon.
I like telling my runner what side of the street I’ll be on so they know where to look for me. For the first area, I like being on the runner’s right. That way I can easily cross through to my next cheer zone AND I don’t have to run across the street in front of athletes.
Also, remember that this is a big race with lots of corrals. Tracking your runner is always a great way to know where they are on the course. You can also look at their bibs for corral placement so you know that when you see your runner’s corral color, you know it time to look for them in earnest.
Mile one you’ll see lots of smiles and everyone is looking strong! As both a spectator and someone who’s run the half course I can tell you that the energy here is fantastic.
After your runner passes, you can cut through the couple of blocks to line up with the yellow star. I usually walk down a bit so that I’m just past the 10k mark.
You can hang anywhere from miles 5.5 to just before 7 and it’s minimal walking so you do you!
The crowds are THICK in this area, sometimes a few people deep. Bring a bright sign, a cowbell, and your best yelling voice. While you’re waiting for your runner, you can cheer on other runners because they’ve got their names on their bibs. Show them what the city of brotherly and sisterly love is all about!
After you see your runner during this stretch, you have a couple of different options. If you’d like, you can go shopping for a bit. Depending on how speedy your runner is, you might have some time to get some food before they come through the finish line.
Or, if you’re crazy, like I know many of you are… you can make the long trek to cheer for the runners along Kelly Drive (red star).
This is where the course gets a bit quieter. It’s hard to get out there and cheer and there’s nothing that’s too accessible for a cheerer. BUT THAT DOESN’T SCARE YOU, DOES IT?
No. I didn’t think so.
So what you’re going to want to do is head toward the finish line… and just keep walking. That’s right, keep on going. The marathoners are doing it and that means that you are too, if you want to cheer for them.
When I was cheering in 2013 my Fitbit informed me that from start to finish, I traveled 10 miles. TEN. This isn’t for the faint of heart! A lot of people bring/rent bikes to cheer, by the way, and that’s always a great option.
This section of the course is an out and back so if you’d like, you can see your runner on the way out, cross the street (safely) and see them on the way back too. Or, if you’re like me, your runner can see YOU as they run by.
Try really hard not to be like me.
Thankfully I caught her on the way back, at around mile 24.
Runners at this point might be in survival mode. I usually adjust my cheering to fit the situation. If someone looks like they’re hurting, I’m more subtle in my cheering. If someone is looking strong, I’ll tell them just that. That stretch of road can feel like forever to a runner so I always want to be compassionate.
If you station yourself at mile 24, then you miss out on seeing your runner cross the finish. I *just* missed Kyle! Sure, I could have run there but I didn’t. Having experienced both, I think that I’d rather see my runner come across the finish line (or be right before it).
But honestly, I think that anything you do, you can’t lose because your runner will just be so happy to see you every single time. It really does make a difference that you’re out there, supporting them!
I’m still trying to see if I’ll be able to make it into the city this Sunday to cheer on those running the marathon, but if not, I’ll be hooting and hollering from here. Guaranteed!
What races do you like to cheer at? Have you ever done the Philadelphia Marathon? (Or any marathon? Not me!) BibRave Pro buddy, Joe, is running his first this weekend!