How Far Did Rocky Go in His Training Run in ‘Rocky II’?

Rocky wasn’t just a boxer. He was a marathoner.

One of my favorite parts of any Rocky movie is the training montage. Specifically, I enjoy watching Rocky run the streets of Philadelphia (I and II) or on the beach (III) or in the snow (IV) or whatever happened in the fifth movie I’ve erased from my memories. Of all the Rocky training montages, though, the run in Rocky II is my favorite.

What’s always amused me about this scene is how absolutely little sense Rocky’s route makes: South Philly becomes North Philly becomes the Italian Market becomes North Philly again, and so on. Obviously, the montage isn’t meant to be taken seriously as an actual workout; it’s just a few scenes strung together so “Gonna Fly Now” can play and Rocky can finish at the top of the Art Museum steps.


But, I wondered, what if this roadwork were treated as one actual run? How far would Rocky go? Well, I decided to find out. I pieced together the routes Rocky could have traveled from scene to scene in this training montage and calculated distance. All distances were mapped out by using the USA Track and Field distance-measuring tool recommended to me by my friend and Philadelphia magazine managing editor Annie Monjar. She's a better runner than I am, so I trust her. However, I'm not sure she could take Rocky in a footrace, at least Rocky II-era Rocky. Let's see how far he went.

Scene 1: Rocky's house, 2313 South Lambert Street

In the second film, Rocky marries Adrian and they move to a house in South Philadelphia's Girard Estates section, a home that was recently up for sale. Rocky begins his run with a leap off the porch and over the railing. So far, so good.

Distance traveled: A few feet

Scene 2, Lehigh Avenue train right-of-way

Yeah, so Rocky goes from deep South Philly to... running on the train tracks adjacent to Lehigh Avenue on the Richmond/Fishtown/Kensington border! Not so safe, and also incredibly far from South Philly. Here's the route I imagined Rocky took: His house on Lambert to Passyunk, which he took all the way down to South Street. Then Fourth to Callowhill to Delaware Avenue (It wasn't Columbus Boulevard then!) Delaware Avenue to Beach Street to Richmond to Schirra and back to Beach, which dead ends to a spot to sneak on to the train tracks. (Today, all the tracks have been removed except one.) Rocky runs on the tracks until the bridge on Kensington Ave that carries the El. He exits shortly down onto East Gurney Street, where at least today there is a seemingly good spot to leave. One great aspect of being Rocky is the train engineers merely say "Go Rocky!" instead of "Get the hell out of here before I call the cops!

Distance traveled: 7.2 miles

Scene 3, Italian Market

Sure, pass by the Italian Market when you're just a few feet away from it, then double all the way back from Kensington to run through it again. I figure Rocky exited at East Gurney, took East Sterner to Lehigh Avenue, which he took to Broad. Then it's a quick run down Broad to Washington to 10th to League to Ninth Street, where Rocky is greeted by cheering fans—and a flaming barrel, obviously. Nothing is more South Philly than a flaming barrel.

Distance traveled: 6.11 miles this leg, 13.31 total

Scene 4, B Street Bridge at East Gurney

Yes, that's right: Now Rocky is back up here, just a bit west of where he ran the train tracks earlier. How'd he get there? I'm thinking he went down 9th to Callowhill to Front to Somerset back to Front to Tusculum to B Street at Gurney. Why didn't Rocky just do this part of his run while he was already up in the area? I don't know. Why did he write "Italian Stallion" on the back of his sweatsuit without putting much effort into it?

It is at this time that Rocky starts picking up neighborhood children who are following him during his run. Keep in mind the shape these children must be in when you see the final distance total.

Distance traveled:: 5.36 miles this leg, 18.67 miles total

Scene 5, Kelly Drive

This exercise has made me appreciate just how enormous Philadelphia really is. All the way from Kensington to Kelly Drive? Who would do such a thing on a run? Rocky crosses the B Street Bridge, takes it to Gurney to Somerset to Fifth to Lehigh all the way to Ridge to West Hunting Park to Kelly Drive. Now, I know what you're thinking: Might Rocky have to run through a scary cars-only tunnel on Hunting Park at the end? No one would actually do that, even a prizefighter. Well.

Here are two runnners — in racing tank tops, too, maybe? — caught on Google Street View running through the tunnel! If they can do it now, Rocky could have done it in 1979. We'll extend this Kelly Drive run all the way to back of the Art Museum.

Distance traveled: 6.78 miles this leg, 25.45 miles total

Scene 6, Chestnut Street

You'd think Rocky — who earlier was running on train tracks — is just throwing caution to the wind again and running in the middle of Chestnut Street. But Chestnut had been closed to traffic from 18th to 8th in 1976, so this is actually pretty boring compared to the previous parts of his run. I enjoy how Rocky has yet to let any child pass him. He takes the Ben Franklin Parkway to 22nd to Chestnut and heads down to 15th Street.

Distance traveled: 1.76 miles, 27.21 miles total

Scene 7, Independence Hall

Rocky continues down Chestnut Street and runs through Independence Hall — before post-9/11 security measures, you could do this — and out onto the back courtyard. This scene is the source of the title for the entertaining documentary Rocky Jumped a Park Bench, which chronicles the places in Philadelphia used in the filming of the Rocky movies.

Did the kids jump the bench, too? These are some in-shape kids! Why didn't these kids become track stars in the ’80s and ’90s? And where are their parents? Is this why Philadelphia was so screwed up in the ’70s?

Distance traveled: 0.95 miles this leg, 28.16 miles total

Scene 8, Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Art Museum steps

Rocky's run ends here, obviously. He goes through the Independence Hall backyard to Walnut to Fifth to Arch to the Parkway and all the way up the Art Museum steps. I enjoy how he actually sprints away from his Pied Piper-like following at the end of this run, making sure they know that he's the professional athlete here and not them. And look how much energy he has left after his monster run!

Top boxers usually do a lot of roadwork to increase stamina; the LetsRun forum says Kelly Pavlik once won an award in a 10K the week of a fight. Ali ran about three miles every workout, per Norman Mailer's book. An episode of 24/7 showed Floyd Mayweather running an 8-miler. But this? This is ridiculous.

Total distance traveled: 2.45 miles this leg, 30.61 miles total

Over 30 and a half miles. Rocky almost did a 50K. No wonder he won the rematch against Apollo!

To help you understand exactly how much distance Rocky covered, I saved Rocky's running route at the USATF site.

This is one long run. I don't recommend anyone try it. But if you do, be sure to have a gaggle of children with you—and make sure you're fresh enough to celebrate at the end.

Big thanks to the people who helped me identify some of the locations in the montage: Brad Maule, Andy Cliver, Sandy Smith, Bryan Graham, Tom Dougherty and Brian Howard.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.

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  • rocoach

    Did you forgot to include his run back home afterwards?

    • Dan McQuade

      The scene ends at the Art Museum steps — it freezes and zooms in, like it’s the end of the movie — so I’m going to say he took SEPTA home. Assuming the 7 bus existed in 1979, that would pick him up at 21st and drop him close to his place.

  • KobraKai7474

    Great stuff. I was always curious exactly how far Rocky had run. For laughs, I’d love to also see how long the trip was if you actually put the random segments into a more coherent order (for example, assuming that he hit the Italian Market immediately after leaving home).

    • Mark Ratliff

      I had the same thought. ~19.6 miles, including running home.

      goo.gl/kdrWBY

  • plops

    this is insanely dorky and it made my day

  • tickticktick

    Just curious: If you take his beginning and ending points as set and just put the points shown in the most logical order to run them, how long is it then?

    • peterkruvczuk

      This idea has been thought of before. I did the LOGICAL run a while back, and plan on doing it again. Depending on your route (and whether or not you want to skip Kensington, which is a good idea), you’re looking anywhere from a 13-18 mile run. I included the Zoo in my first run to loop around to Kelly Drive then up the steps like in Rocky 1. Did it in the snow too…

  • Kelcey Z

    Lol. this is great Dan

  • Lovetron

    Awesome!

  • Randy
  • Mike Cunningham

    There should have been a special tribute to the kid with the red jacket who tried to catch up to Rocky when he put on the after burners. My favorite part of the scene. That and Sly’s “Hollywood Mullet”

    • Lucky Stonington

      I believe the red jacket kid might be Christopher Gourley from the Fairmount section of Philly. They let the St. Francis Xavier school out for the day to film the scene.

  • Carolyn Muldoon

    I’m gonna need to talk to somebody ASAP about making this a relay race. Six runners, 5 miles each, shut down the entire city…LETS GET ‘ER DONE!

    • Phil

      That is an excellent idea

    • bullmk@gmail.com

      Carolyn – any interest in actually making this happen? I know some sponsors that would jump at this….and a whole city worth of people that would be interested based on the concept alone.

    • bib

      That would be awesome! I would fly to Philly just for that reason. The Rocky Run here I come!

    • Rebecca

      Hi everyone! I am doing some research into turning this into a real 50k. If there’s enough interest, I could consider adding a relay to it. If you’re interested in getting more info, here’s the Facebook group that I’ve created for it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/218173931684311/

      • JustinB1021

        See if you can’t get a hold of Christopher McDougall the author (and a runner in) Born to Run. This is something I think he would have a lot of interest in.

        • Rebecca

          Great idea! Thanks, Justin!

    • Final_Word

      Dumb.

    • http://www.mallemarok.com/ iris @mallemarok

      headbands and wristwrap MANDATORY. Rip in sweatpants optional.

  • nahmean

    This is excellent work!

    But…. I don’t wanna question your route, and maybe I’m being a huge dork here, but unless they reversed the direction of 9th street at some point, he’s running south against traffic through the Italian Market.

    • Randy

      You should always run facing traffic

    • Dan McQuade

      Hmm, darn, that seems right. Let’s say he enters from Hall or Montrose, then flips around when he reaches Washington.

  • Dan Doyle

    Someone forgot to edit out the kid on the Art Museum steps wearing the Steelers jacket, just wrong, really wrong.

    • Michael P. Crilley

      Not wrong at all… IIRC this movie was filmed during the season the Steelers won SuperBowl XIII (and in theaters following the win), while the hometown Eagles were on their way to losing either in the playoffs or the Bowl three years straight.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Eagles_seasons

      • Dan Doyle

        Still wrong, because it’s filmed in Philly nitwit!

  • Cassidy

    This is beyond fantastic, Dan.

  • Michele Isanski

    anyone who lives in philly knows it’s impossible to run but we love the scene anyway. And what cracks me up is where are these kids parents….they went all over Philly with a strangers.

  • Cheesesteak

    East River Drive, though.

  • http://sportingnerds.com Sco Jo

    Heh. Hilarious. I hope Rocky broke this run up over several days and just happened to wear the same sweatsuit every time. This would make a fun Philly Marathon event.

  • castor troy

    made me laugh, a really good article. thanks for this!!!

  • Rick Reitz

    Then he still has to go home.

  • Steve Goldberg

    Yeah but in Rocky III he was totally shredded

  • Robin Becker

    This is just too funny! I love it!

  • edcasey

    Why DIDN’T he put a little more effort into his sweatshirt customization?

    It’s like Rocky has never even heard of Zazzle or Redbubble or whatever.

    • bicyclebill

      Of course Rocky had never heard of Zazzle or Redbubble. It’s 1979, and Al Gore hadn’t gotten around to inventing the Internet yet.

      -”BB”-

  • Jay

    The awesome thing is that it’s at least somewhat light when he leaves his house, and by the time he finishes his 30+ mile run, the sun has just barely risen above the skyline. So not only crazy long, but also crazy fast.

  • Jimmy O’Connor

    I think I’ve seen this before….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgnJ8GpsBG8

  • Mark

    sounds like someone has an idea for a new race!

  • Bob Costas

    Rocky has enough sense to stay away from Point Breeze.

  • http://www.chickenunderwear.com Chicken Underwear

    and the kids ran too!

  • Britt Nemeth

    I am really glad that someone spent the time and energy figuring this out for us all! Brilliant.

  • familyjoel

    So whats the heel drop measurement on Chucks? LOL!

  • legionnaire

    This article is fantastic. If you look at his general pacing he seems to be running some serious negative splits, too! (even while hurdling park benches and running up flights of stairs)

  • Liz Spikol

    I was told that the kids had been recruited from my high school, Friends Select, to be in the film. That makes sense because the school is on the Parkway. But maybe they just told us that so we had something to look forward to other than algebra.

  • http://bluecollargospel.com/ Ian McConnell

    this was a fantastic late afternoon detour…thx!

  • Rebecca

    I’m hoping to put on a relaxed race covering the 50k distance. If anyone is intersted, join the Facebook group where I’ll put in updates. Thanks! https://www.facebook.com/groups/218173931684311/

  • John from St. Louis.

    When I was reading this, I had Ray Magliozzi’s voice from NPR’s “Car Talk” in my head. Though they are from Boston, it played nicely.

  • Stew Vick

    Love your blog on this. I reposted parts to my blog this is great.. http://blog.helpmehelpyoumakemoneyfromhome.com

  • Christine Beil

    this is awesome! Loved it!

  • Carrie

    Love this, Dan. Still, I’m going to hold out for the original, largely because of this story, from Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown, recalling the serendipity of being under the radar and his new contraption being able to capture the running with Wobblevision:

    For the weeks Rocky shot on the streets of Kensington, South Philadelphia and the Parkway, it was off the local radar. That no one knew or cared about it almost surely contributed to the film’s outsider authenticity.

    Heaven smiled one gray morning on Ninth Street, where Brown, wearing his Steadicam rig, stood in the back of a moving van filming Stallone in his sweats and watch cap as he trotted past the dawn patrol at the Italian Market.

    “For real, there were those burning barrels of trash that people warmed themselves on. And there was Stallone, totally unknown,” Brown says, recalling the shoot. “And, for real, some soul throws him an apple and he catches it. On camera. What a moment of unique high energy.”

    To Brown’s eternal relief, the shot – taken on potholed pavement – was razor-sharp.

    (this is from a piece I wrote on Rocky’s silver anniversary)

  • Chris

    Interesting (and amusing) article, but false premise. The crowds following rocky get bigger and bigger with each “leg” (and they change. They’re different kids), and the weather changes (from partly cloudy, to sunny, to overcast and back again), as well as the times of day shown not making sense for this route. But most important is the crowds – it’s clearly meant to imply that this is Rocky training over a long period of time and these are separate runs, much like the gym sequences earlier in the montage.

  • Larry Adams

    I’d love to come run this.. tell me someone has thought of a Fata$$ for this event.

  • Andrew Payne

    I wonder how many runners will jump the bench before one gets messed up.

  • Ken

    Didn’t Rocky’s run start at 1818 Tusculum Street in Kensington? I only asked because they did a lot of the filming across the street from my Aunt’s house (she lived at Ruth and Tusculum). She had a front row seat to the production as it was filmed.

    • Randy

      see my first two maps, from “Rocky” above

  • josephbagadoughnutz

    you all need jobs

  • Numbers6

    They can do a Director’s cut edit and put the scenes in a more logical order?

  • mikey7sss

    but how far did he run in RUSSIA …. he went all the way up a mountain don’t forget

    • Joel Quebec

      That would be a secret since it was in Cold War Russia. Someone would have to kill you if they told you.

  • bib

    Really people? 30 miles? That is not that much. I have run marathons, mega marathons, and excelled in triathlons. A marathon is 26.2 miles and people run those everyday. A well tuned athlete has no problem running 30 miles. But I could understand how a lazy person might have trouble wrapping their heads around such a subject thus writing an article out of jealousy and disbelief. I have done runs just like the aforementioned variety where I am doubling back and doing cross routes. Keep eating your fast food and enjoying your sedentary lifestyle!

    • poe

      You did a great job here… missing the point entirely and being a shining example of a total douche.

      • CLWord77

        And that leaves the rest of us that run scrambling to distance ourselves from this knob.

    • Final_Word

      You’re a douche too so don’t forget to add that into your analysis.

    • Sean

      Wow, you managed to do all that with your head shoved so far up your own arse!! Awesome!!

    • Playtrombone64

      Oh go piss off you self-righteous SOB.

    • Melissa Swanson Ⓥ

      Dude, way to make ultrarunners look wonderful and kind and not at all like arrogant douches. :/ I’m an ultrarunner myself and have done 50Ks as races and as training runs for 50 milers BUT it’s not an easy distance to do and is pretty impressive, IMO. Just like marathons. Or any run.

      Also, non-runner doesn’t = lazy and fast food lovers. Just like runner doesn’t = perfect eating and impeccable humans in all ways. There are other ways to be active! Not everyone likes running like we obviously do. :)

      I didn’t see this as jealous or anything negative. It was funny! It was written as a bit of fun. My first thought was “this route sounds like me when I’m trying to make a really long run and just end up doing stupid loops everywhere… or me when I’m lost.” LOL.

      • CLWord77

        He’s a fraud. I just looked him up on Athlinks. Not even a 5K to his name.

        • Melissa Swanson Ⓥ

          I know this isn’t the point, but what a cool site! :D I can’t believe they have all my race info compiled in one spot like that. They’ve got stuff I’ve completely forgotten running. So thanks for mentioning it! It is pretty sweet. :D

    • septa_rida

      Nobody likes marathon runners.

    • CLWord77

      Cool story, bro. Now go away and quit giving the rest of us runners a bad name.

    • CLWord77

      Fun fact… because this guy linked his FB account to his Disqus, I was able to look him up in the Athlinks.com database, the largest clearinghouse for running results in the world.

      Not one single race comes up under his name – not a Tri, not a Marathon, not even a 5K comes up under the name Joshua Bozsan.

      And really… who calls them “Mega Marathons”? Definitely not someone that runs them. The preferred nomenclature is “Ultras”.

      Between your lack of results and your lack of familiarity with the lingo, I’d say you’re pretty much a fraud.

      • Randy

        Look him up under “Kip Litton,” maybe?

        • CLWord77

          NICE. You win the internets today.

    • bobdakers

      Bobdakers
      What’s a mega marathon?! You’re a mega pap.

    • olu

      I’m having trouble wrapping my head around why you would need to post anonymously about anyone who doesn’t run 30 miles at a time (like you of course) is nothing more than lazy and jealous.

  • Scott_Beggs

    And he’s still gotta get home…

    • Final_Word

      Taxi. Bus. Hitchhike.

  • James

    Almost like Tony Soprano’s route driving out of the Lincoln Tunnel and going 20 miles out of his way to go home

  • Dan Burk

    I am sure this is mentioned in comments, but what about the miles it would take to go home… or did he catch a cab? Kind of defeats the purpose…

  • King Kong Mosca

    You betta believe it, ROCKY is the KING!! Just look at him in the end, he still had another 5 miles in him.

  • Nelson Romero

    Did you have to spoil the end of Rocky II?

  • Sarah Ongiri

    And all in a cotton sweatsuit…..tech wear be damned

  • RShems

    I am in for a relay race!

  • Joel Quebec

    I’m thinking it wasn’t meant to be viewed as a one-day run, but a series of runs through out his training. Some athletes wear the same outfit for each training session or match. Smelly but true.

  • Christopher Malenab

    and this is why he is Rocky …

  • FatCheesesteakers

    Rocky sucks, Philly sucks. Forrest Gump ran way further for no reason at all and he is a retard with scoliosis.

    • Polish Rifle

      Some funny sh*t right there.

    • olu

      Philly does suck somewhat because of the prevalence of negative and ignorant bungholes…having said that you would fit right in.

  • Economist2011

    And judging the pre-dawn light present in most of the shots…he probably ran it under an hour or two.

  • Joseph Scharfbillig

    So what is the shortest possible route between all of these points, assuming the movie was edited and the cuts were assembled out of order?

    • CallMeSkillet

      A straight line is always the shortest way to get from point A to point B.

      • picky

        actually the great circle arc is the shortest geometric distance between two points on the surface of a spherical object like the Earth.

  • http://w2ogroup.com/blog LionelGeek

    Go Rocky Go! :)

  • SamR

    Well done.

  • Gregg Brennan

    And you got paid to write this piece? I’m obviously in the wrong line of work.

  • Andreas

    I am from Germany and just saw Rocky2 with my Kids. by Chance I stumbled over this article and it gave me a good laugh!

  • Bridget

    Awesome article!! I am running the 2013 Philadelphia dressed as Rocky Balboa from Rocky IV in FULL rocky gear: 1980′s leather boxing boots with tassels, tube socks, striped boxing shorts, boxing robe, hand wraps, no joke! I am looking for sponsors (Students Run Philly Style Charity). Please check out the link or contact me for more info. Thanks! Bridget

    https://studentsrunphillystyle.myetap.org/fundraiser/philamarathon2013/individual.do?participationRef=3865.0.645615663

  • Bridget

    *2013 Philadelphia Marathon

  • Bridget

    I am running the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon dressed as Rocky Balboa from Rocky IV for charity. In boxing boots! Please check out my sponsorship page!

    https://studentsrunphillystyle.myetap.org/fundraiser/philamarathon2013/individual.do?participationRef=3865.0.645615663

  • Dani Gimeno

    How Rocky came back to his house? Running or taking the bus?

  • Johnny Domino

    I think that “Italian Stallion” is in the same font as the “83″ on the kid’s jersey in “Invincible”.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Rocky is a beast!!!

  • Neil Schur

    Love this. I was one of those kids running in the movie – but just at the Art Museum. My friend’s parents spotted a tiny ad in the paper and threw us in the car. Great day. Great to be part of Philadelphia history. Not quite the signing of the Declaration, but pretty close….

    • Martrese

      I wondered who/where those kids are today!

  • Erdessy

    Some of those kids were miles away from home when they got to the art museum. They were probably lost and then cried because they don’t know how to get home…. Shame on Rocky for scaring the little guys.

    • olu

      I’m scared that you seem to think the events in the movie were real…

      • Erdessy

        Don’t be scared olu, it’s called sarcasm…

        • olu

          No worries, I was being sarcastic too (obviously).

  • Gregor Anderson

    My response to this is “who gives a fuck” it was a good film for kids, did it have to be realistic to the last detail, NO

  • http://www.facebook.com/adimike55 Adrian Hickman

    Even better, question route that Rocky’s ambulance takes to the hospital. It is the longest, most convoluted ride to the hospital ever.

    And a few years later, CBS ran some mini-series with Jacklyn Smith as a New York Lawyer.

    They show her stepping off a curb and getting hit by a car. Then then show an ambulance rushing her to the hospital, but the shot of the ambulance is actually from the opening of ROCKY II. It shows the ambulance heading north up Broad Street towards City Hall and trailing behind is a WCAU-TV news van.

  • wolverine91068

    being this anal about a fictitious movie is funny itself. when i watch dramas like this i never say”wow how did they get from one side of town to the other side so quickly”its a good movie franchise with a moral message.i got better things to spend my time on than worrying how accurately a fictitious movie character ran around a city.not an important issue really.

    • JJT

      Pretty sure this exercise was just for fun and anyone who was curious. Thanks for being a dick about it though.

  • Marypants

    Great article. So funny! I can’t watch that Rocky scene without crying every time (darn it)!

  • Josh

    But how did he get home? Did he run home or did Paulie come pick him up?

  • CM

    Next, how far did he run or hike in the Russian mountains.

  • hotdamn!!_stanley

    you got to ‘run’ with fatcheesesteakers….he’s a riot…i quote him….”Rocky sucks, Philly sucks. Forrest Gump ran way further for no reason at all and ,….he’s a retard –with scoliosis

  • Samir Rachid

  • Vincenzo Diotalleva

    This is awesome. One thing though, the ‘backyard’ or courtyard of Independence Hall is actually the front yard. The common popular view from the Liberty Bell side is actually a view of the back. It’s sorta like Independence Hall is twerkin it in every touristy photo ever.

  • jasy08

    I to was part of this run. For us kids it started down the Parkway to the top of the steps. I agree that it was all at different times. Weather wise and the kids change. I was in 7th grade at the time and this year is my 30th Reunion from High School.

  • KC Reif

    The kid in the red jacket is my dad. He loves talking about it.

  • minos minos
  • Gary Kelly

    I laughed all through the article, you must have had a lot of time on your hands that day.

  • lalaw67

    I’m surprised he could make it out of the house with those heavy-ass sweats on!

  • Brandon

    …and run with the same group of children?