The Insider’s Guide to Crushing the Philadelphia Marathon

Photo courtesy GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon

Photo courtesy GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon

Shooting for a PR on Sunday? “You can do it,” says local running coach ­Marcy Gialdo, a two-time Philly Marathoner. “You just have to know the ins and outs.” Gialdo spills her tried-and-true know-how for the Philly Marathon, from the best and worst parts of the course to where to find the Porta-Potties with the shortest lines (crucial!). Runners, consider this your official playbook.

1. Get there by 6 a.m.
You’ll need at least an hour to get yourself oriented, bathroomed, and to your corral. Arrive early, but find a place to sit. You don’t want to burn energy by standing around.

2. Head to the secret Porta-­Potties.
Psst! They’re along Pennsylvania Avenue near 24th Street—way less crowded than those in Eakins Oval.

3. Run the straight-and-narrow.
The Philly Marathon has a lot of turns, Gialdo says, and “taking the outside turn can push your 26.2 miles to 27.”

4. Expect the unexpected hill.
It’s between miles seven and eight: “There’s a long, slow incline in West Philly along 34th Street,” Gialdo says.

5. Don’t call it quits halfway.
You’ll be tantalizingly close to the finish line when you reach the Art Museum, with half marathoners peeling off to the right. Stay left, dammit.

6. Note: Kelly Drive is really, really quiet.
Now is when you’ll face your mental demons. Focus on your pace, or chant that “I can do it!” mantra you practiced during your training.

7. Your reward: East Falls.
“East Falls’s cheer station has music and fun signs,” says Gialdo. “It’s the best part of the course.”

8. Avoid the beers in Manayunk.
They’re handed out like water. Don’t even think about it.

9. Boathouse Row isn’t the end of the race.
You might be tempted to turn on the turbo here, but be warned: You still have a mile left.

10. Soak up the finish-line energy.
If you’re running with headphones, take them off as you round the north side of the Art Museum. Those whoops and cheers? They’re for you.

This article first appeared in the November 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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