Ever Since Watching Rocky, I’ve Dreamed of Running the “Steps”
In the City of Brotherly Love
Famous for its LOVE statue (sadly renovated during my visit), the the 40th annual Rock ‘Roll Series Half Marathon is a road running event which takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States on the third Sunday of September. The race welcomes nearly 18,000 runners, walkers, and wheelchair athletes for its out-and-back 13.1-mile course, which starts and finishes near the Eakins Oval, which lies just a stone’s throw from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Takeaways from this race experience:
- Average Temperature – the average low is 61°F and the average high is 76°F.
- Time Limit – each runner/walker will have a course time limit of 4 hours to complete the race; that means they’ll need to finish within 4 hours of crossing the starting line according to their personal chip time (not within 4 hours of the starting gun time).
- Course map – view here
- CBS Philly Coverage – I was grateful to receive such amazing coverage for this challenge on CBS Philly.
- Fast, flat and few hills – Participants will experience very few changes in elevation, as the course starts at 35 feet above sea level and rises to its highest point at about 55 feet.
- The Race Route -racers follow a roughly four-mile loop through Philadelphia’s downtown district that takes them past local landmarks like City Hall, the headquarters of the American Philosophical Society and Philadelphia’s Washington Square, where runners then turn left and head along Arch Street back toward the Oval for the next stretch of the course along the river. Along this path, the race shows off some of the city’s most scenic areas, as runners make their way along the both the southern bank of the Schuykill River, along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and then along its northern bank after crossing over the river at the Falls Bridge, after which they follow Kelly Drive back southward toward the Museum of Art to the race finish line, just past the Oval.
- The Rocky Steps and Statue – you can’t make a trip to Philly without seeing the famous steps and statue from Rocky! Fortunately, as racers sprint their way to the finish line, both iconic spots can be seen in the final .1 mile of the course. After you grab your bling, turn left and you can run up the Rocky steps and then wait in about a 15-minute line to have your picture snapped in front of the statue. A must for all finishers!
- Bling, bling, bling! – the Rock ‘N Roll Series finishing medals never disappoint and always seem to be worth collecting for medal junkies.
Top 5 Things to Experience in Philly Before or After the Race (all of which are free):
- The Liberty Bell – You might wait about 15-20 minutes in line to see the bell, but this experience is a must for all visitors. The bell became famous after an 1847 short story claimed that an aged bellringer rang it on July 4, 1776, upon hearing of the Second Continental Congress’s vote for independence.
- Reading Terminal Market – a foodie’s paradise, and one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building, the Market offers an incredible selection of locally grown & exotic produce, locally sourced meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and confections.
- Independence Hall Tour – The guided tour of Independence Hall, led by National Park rangers, begins in the courtroom where lawyers from opposing sides shared tables and law books. George Washington’s “rising sun” chair dominates the Assembly Room which is arranged as it was during the Constitutional Convention. In the adjacent West Wing, the original inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence and an original draft of the Constitution are displayed.
- Spruce Street Harbor Park -The beloved pop-up park invites visitors to lounge on its signature hammocks, enjoy food on its floating restaurant, cool off with drafts from the beer garden and hang out and play games – bocce, ping pong, shuffleboard and more – along its waterfront boardwalk. Along with a ton of beverage and food options, visitors can enjoy the vibrant, colorful LED lighting that hangs from the treetops to illuminate the park at night and a packed schedule of entertainment set to unfold throughout the season.
- Jim’s Steaks – with all due respect to Tony’s Luke’s, Pat’s and Geno’s, a local recommended Jim’s Steak’s where my girlfriend and I waited for about 30 minutes in a line that wrapped around the corner on a Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. While I didn’t get to sample the other places mentioned above, the unbelievable smell of the grill-cooked beef and sizzling onions will assure customers that the steaks are worth waiting for and keep you patient and focused on the eventual reward.
The City of Brotherly Love was way more welcoming than I ever imagined. I always heard how tough and rough the people are in this city, and maybe that is ture, but not from my experiences. As usual, the Rock ‘N Roll Series team and race lived up to the hype and expectations of their brand. They put on a great show and deliver on their race bling.
And I promise during my next visit, I will sample a few other cheesesteak joints (save your emails), hit up a Philly baseball or football game, and hopefully see the original LOVE sign in LOVE Square!