Philadelphia Marathon 2014 Spectator’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Photo by M. Edlow for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

Photo by M. Edlow for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

The Philadelphia Marathon, held on November 23rd this year, will fetch nearly 30,000 runners, 60,000 spectators and thousands of volunteers. So, yes, it will be a busy, crowd-filled day. If you’re planning on watching, clapping and cheering your brains out, here’s an at-a-glance look at what you need to know.

Race Date and Start Time

Sunday, November 23rd at 7 a.m.

Start/Finish Line Location

22nd Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Here’s a map.

Getting to the Start/Finish Area

Your best bet is to leave your car at home (though if you must drive, look below for places to park), as there will be street closures throughout the city along the marathon route. If you can, take public transit. Via subway, get off at City Hall and walk from there; it’s only about 3/4 of a mile. If you’re coming from the ‘burbs, take regional rail to Suburban Station and hoof it. The Philly PHLASH buses will also be running along the Downtown Loop and will be offering $2 rides (free for runners) from stops across Center City.

Where to Park Near the Start/Finish Line

Street parking is a crapshoot, but you’re more than welcome to try. (Note: There will be no street parking allowed on the Ben Franklin Parkway.) Here’s a list of parking garages and lots to try:

Parking Lots
23rd and Cherry streets, Patriot Parking, Inc. Cost: $10
22nd and Walden streets, Central Parking System. Cost: $13
19th and Callowhill streets, Philadelphia Parking Authority. Cost: $8
23rd and Arch streets, Central Parking System. Cost: $12

Parking Garages
222 North 20th Street, Standard Parking. Cost: $15
1815 Cherry Street, LAZ Parking. Cost: Starts at $13
16th and Race streets (Sheraton Hotel), Standard Parking. $22
1815 JFK Boulevard, Patriot Parking, Inc. Cost: $10
1901 JFK Boulevard, Central Parking System. Cost: $12
36 South 19th Street, Central Parking System. Cost: $11 for four hours
1700 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, The Windsor Suites. Cost: $9

Where to Find Coffee Near the Start/Finish Line

Priorities—am I right? If you need caffeine before you can even think about cheering, here’s where you’ll find coffee near the starting area before the gun goes off:

• Starbucks — 1945 Callowhill Street. Opens at 6:30 a.m.
• Wawa — 2040 Hamilton Street. Open 24 hours.
• Wawa — 1707 Arch Street. Open 24 hours. (Go here if you’re walking from the train!)
• Dunkin’ Donuts — 1600 John F Kennedy Boulevard (4 Penn Center). Opens at 6 a.m.

Note: Most local coffee shops in the area open at 7 on Sundays.


Here are all the maps you might need:

Philadelphia Marathon Course Map
Philadelphia Half Marathon Course Map
Marathon and Half-Marathon Split Map

Best Places to Watch

You can park yourself anywhere along the route, of course, but here are three spots where you’re sure to find bunches of enthusiastic fans.

1. For the Energy: Chestnut Street between 6th and 17th streets (Miles 5-6)
When I ran the Philly Half a few years back, this was my absolute favorite part of the race. Runners make the turn from 6th on to Chestnut to head west, and from there it was just wall-to-wall spectators. The energy and excitement are electric; you can’t help but join in.

2. For the Beer: East Falls and Manayunk (Miles 17 and 19-21)
If you’re cheering for a full-marathon finisher, this is where the party’s at. The fun gets started near the Falls Bridge and pretty much carries through to Manayunk. There’s a cheer station (see below) in East Falls where people go all out—music, dancing, signs—and in Manayunk along Main Street, there are always people handing out (what else?) cups of beer.

3. For the Solitude: Kelly Drive (Miles 14 and 25)
If you want fewer crowds, position yourself along Kelly Drive, just past Boathouse Row. It tends to get really quiet along this stretch, and runners can use all the help they can get. Plus, on their way back toward the finish line, you’re the one-mile warning; runners will be psyched to see your smiling face.

Cheer Stations Along the Course

Want to party with the official cheer sections? Here a list of cheer stations along the Philadelphia Marathon course. (We recommend getting down with our pals from Philadelphia Runner at Main and Cotton streets at Winnie’s LeBus in Manayunk, or Lululemon—they’re bringing a DJ!—at Kelly Drive and Ferry Street in East Falls.)

Where to Brunch and Grab a Beer After the Race

You’re in luck! We covered that in detail right over here.

Additional research for this post by Elena Hart.

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