Runners excited about Philadelphia Marathon return

The Philadelphia Marathon returns this Sunday.
      In hockey parlance, it’s a hat trick.
      The first big race to return was the Philadelphia Distance Run in September, followed by the Broad Street Run in October.
      Now, to complete this trifecta, comes the Philadelphia Marathon in November – this Sunday to be exact.
      While health-safety measures might cut into the field a bit, a rather large turnout is expected for the popular 26.2-mile event in and around the City of Brotherly Love.
      In addition to the marathon there’s also a half-marathon and 8K spread out over the weekend. Some people are bold (and perhaps wacky) enough to run all three.
       The Philadelphia Marathon is rated one of the top 10 marathons in the country and while it might not have quite the glamour of a Boston or New York, it does draw some top runners, both nationally and the Delaware Valley.
      One of the cool things about Philly is the course, which includes segments through historic parts of the city plus scenic stuff along the Schuylkill River.
      Ron Jones, a 3:02 marathoner back in the day, remembers how special it was to complete his first Philadelphia Marathon.
      “I can still remember how great I felt crossing the finish line,’’ he said. “This race has been special to both the elite and average runner. Seeing Philadelphia while running gives you a different look of the city than driving, which is how we usually see the city. I still enjoy watching people who stay in shape doing a sport that can be enjoyed by the young and old.’’
      Many people run Philadelphia because it’s a relatively flat, fast course which is ideal if one is trying to qualify for Boston.
      Brock Butler has run the marathon in the past and will do the half this weekend.
     “Just like Broad Street and PDR, all the local runners I train with have stories about racing on Philly Marathon weekend,’’ Butler said.  “It’s basically assumed you’ll run at least one of the races each year. So when other race opportunities came up for the same weekend this year I automatically declined — I knew I’d either be racing or supporting and probably both.’’
      Langhorne’s Steve Hallman, who holds the unofficial title of Bucks County’s fastest marathon runner, isn’t doing Philly this year but he’s glad it’s back.
      “Obviously I’m really excited for the marathon to return for to the city,’’ Hallman said.  “I know we have a bunch of (Philadelphia Track) club members running this year that were looking forward to seeing. Knowing the race director and the elite coordinator, and how much effort they have been putting into these past couple races, PDR and Broad Street, we should really see some fast times. Even though I am not running, I will still be involved, I’ll be working the elite fluids stations.  Which is what I did for PDR, a lot of fun being on the other side of race. And appreciate it more just how much time and effort go into putting these types of races together.’’
      Joe Boyce ran the first two races of this Triple Crown but he’s leaving the final leg to some friends.
      “Jim Larson and Tony Pereira are running it,’’ Boyce said. “This might be the only year that we’ll see PDR, Broad Street, and the Philly Marathon all run in the fall. It makes it a just a little bit more special. I can almost say I’m doing the triumvirate. I ran PDR and Broad Street, and will be volunteering at the Delco Runners Club water stop at Kelly Drive and Fountain Green, mile 15.8 and 24.8. Running is fun and grueling. Volunteering is just fun and always rewarding to help fellow runners.’’
      Race calendar

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Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.