Why the Philly Marathon is a great qualifying venue for Boston

The Philadelphia Marathon offers a perfect opportunity to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time.

You can take a jet to Boston and that’s certainly a faster way to get there than a train, car or bus.

Likewise, if you want to get (in)to the Boston Marathon, the quickest method could very well be participation in Sunday’s Philadelphia Marathon.

Boston, you see, is the only major 26.2-miler which requires a qualifying time – based on a runner’s age group.

And Philly, with its relatively flat, straight course plus large spectator crowds and convenient location, offers Bucks County runners an optimum chance to achieve their goals.

Langhorne’s Pete Lederer, whose streak of consecutive Boston Marathons is approaching the 20-mark, says Philadelphia is certainly a runner-friendly endeavor.

“Philly is a GREAT course to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time,’’ Lederer said. “It has so much going for it for local runners.

“It was my first marathon and my first Boston qualifier with no time to spare as I just made it by 17 seconds. The course is mostly flat with just a few small hills that can help your legs and mind by providing a terrain change. There are pacers that help keep you on track.’’

Area runners will tell you the weather and the nearby proximity  plays a role in their decision

“The temperature is almost always cool,’’ Lederer pointed out, “whereas even two or three weeks earlier we tend to get warm days (such as 73 degrees for this year’s New York City Marathon). It (Philadelphia) is one of the easier big city marathons from the standpoint of logistics. You can park nearby, and the race starts and finishes in the same area. Friends and family can cheer you on in multiple places along the course. I’ve run Philly four times now and I’ve been fortunate enough to have each of those be a Boston qualifier, with my best time being 2:56.’’

Janet Lewis made Philadelphia her first marathon back in 2007. She ran with a pace group and achieved the Boston standard by several minutes.

Like Lederer, Lewis appreciates the logistics of the Philly event.

“There’s enough parking, a common start and finish and the course is fast, but has some challenges so you aren’t lulled into boredom,’’ said Lewis, a former standout runner at Neshaminy High School now residing in Abington. “The final miles along the (Schuylkill) River are flat, which helps when you are so tired at the end.’’

Cheering sections are helpful. You wouldn’t have that if you ran in Los Angeles or Sydney, Australia.

“I love that friends and family can come out and see runners in a few places, if they would like,’’ Lewis said. “The fan support is always strong.’’

Council Rock High School graduate Terry Permar ran the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon in under three hours to become one of only a handful of American runners to crack the three-hour barrier in five separate decades.

He’s run Philadelphia on three occasions and used those times as Boston qualifiers.

Permar said the main attraction point for running Philly is because it’s a “fair course,’’ offers a convenient location and favorable weather conditions.

“It’s a fair course, not as flat as advertised,’’ said Permar, a Council Rock High School graduate. “For me, the spectators are not really a factor. For some reason, the third Sunday in November is usually pretty good weather for marathon racing.

“I chose to run Philly in 2013 at age 59 when my goal was to run a sub-three in five decades. A 2:58.27 accomplished that mission.’’

Courtney Woodfield actually ran Boston before she did Philadelphia. She wanted to see if she could run faster on the local course and she did that, recording a 3:20 last year, good for fifth place in her age group.

That speedy time earned her fifth place in her age group and qualified her for the Abbott World Major Marathon Wanda Age Group World Championships which took place in London last month.

“The Philadelphia Marathon is recognized internationally as a world class, competitive race,’’ the Newtown resident said. “Compared to other smaller and larger marathons I have run, I thought it was the perfect combination of having enough runners and crowd support to make the miles fly by, but not so crowded on the course that you couldn’t find your own place and pace from the start.’’

Just being in familiar surroundings and taking in all the sights and sounds can help make for a memorable experience.

“I’ve lived in Philadelphia in the past,’’ Woodfield said. “I also enjoy the race route, it really is a tour of the city!’’

Jim Larson of Langhorne will be running Philadelphia this Sunday and looks forward to the competition.

The Bucks County Roadrunners Club veteran ran it last year, finished in 3:28.45 and qualified for Boston.

“It is motivating to see family and friends from BCRR along the course and in the race,’’ he said. “I really like the course around the different parts of the city and it has enough hills to keep it interesting without being too steep.

“Running along the river on Kelly Drive is classic Philly and it is good to see runners coming from the other direction. I don’t like racing in the heat, so the cooler temperatures in late fall are a big reason for me to use it as a qualifier.’’

Race calendar

Friday

Dashin’ Thru The Lights 2-Miler, 5 p.m., Yardley. Contact www.runningintheusa.com

Saturday

Girls on the Run, 9:30 a.m., New Hope. Contact www.gotrhunterdon.org

Thursday, Nov. 24

32nd annual Bucks County Roadrunners Club Thanksgiving Day 5-Miler/5K/1-Miler, 9 a.m., Langhorne. Contact www.runningintheusa.com

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About Wayne Fish 1873 Articles
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.