Philadelphia Marathon

The Complete Philadelphia Marathon Guide for Runners and Spectators

Whether you’ll be sipping hot cocoa on the sidelines or pounding the pavement for miles upon miles, here’s everything you need to know to get prepped for marathon day.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Marathon

It’s the final countdown, folks: The Philadelphia Marathon is a mere five days away — and the Half Marathon is just four! Thousands upon thousands of excited runners will be flooding the Art Museum area next weekend to run the race they’ve been training oh-so-diligently for, while thousands of other people — the beloved fans — will come bearing only their well-rested voices and thoughtfully crafted signs in support. Whether you’re running the marathon or half marathon yourself or just plan on cheering your heart out for your devoted running friends, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about the big weekend.

Just as we’ve done in years past, we’ve compiled a downright exhaustive Philadelphia Marathon race-day guide, covering all of the important need-to-know info for runners and spectators alike. From where to score pre-race coffee at the crack of dawn to where to find Porta Potties along the way and, of course, where to chow down and throw back a cold one post-race — it’s all here. After reading this, you’ll be fully prepared for what lies ahead. Now, let the countdown to race day begin!

Philadelphia Marathon FAQ

All your lingering (or last minute) questions, answered. 

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Marathon

»When is the Philadelphia Marathon and when does it start?
The marathon will go down on Sunday, November 19th at 7 a.m. Runners should aim to get to their corrals by 6 or 6:15 a.m. The half marathon will take place on Saturday, November 18th at 7:30 a.m.

»Where is the start/finish area?
All races start at the intersection of 22nd Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, right by the Art Museum, and finish on Kelly Drive at Eakins Oval.

»How can I get to the starting line?
Friends, we can’t stress this point enough: Take public transportation to the race. It’s for your own good. You can stay up to date on SEPTA’s scheduling here. If you can’t take public transit, avoid parking in the Art Museum area. Trust us, that place is a nightmare, even without thousands of people awaiting a marathon.

City dwellers should plan to take the subway (BSL or MFL) to the City Hall stop and walk to the starting line from there. It’s about a 20-minute walk, which sounds like a great warm up, right? Buses are another great option, depending on where you’re coming from. Suburbanites, you should be able to take the regional rail to Suburban Station and walk from there. That said, it is veryyyy important that you check the weekend schedule for whatever line you take into the city to ensure that you have plenty of time to get to the starting line before the gun goes off.

If you’re of the brave folks that decide to drive, know that there will be no on street parking available in the starting-line area on Saturday or Sunday before the races. And parking in nearby Fairmount is extremely frustrating, even on its best days — so that’s not really an option, either. To help you out, we gathered a list of paid lots close to the race below, but parking in a slightly father Philly neighborhood — South Philly, maybe? — and hopping on the subway might just be your best bet. Sure, it’s not the most convenient route to the starting line, but it might be the most stress-free — panics over full lots and road closures are no way to start a marathon.

Paid parking lots near the starting line
• 23rd and Cherry streets, Patriot Parking, 215-569-4006
• 19th and Callowhill streets, Philadelphia Parking Authority, 215-683-9813
• 30th Street and JFK Boulevard, Parkway, 267-765-3665
• 23rd and Arch streets, SP+ Parking, 215-568-4025

Paid garages near the starting line
• 222 North 20th Street, SP + Parking, 215-448-1391
• 1815 Cherry Street, LAZ Parking, 215-694-3089
• 16th and Race streets (Sheraton Hotel), Standard Parking, 215-448-2000
• 1850 Cuthbert Street, Patriot Parking, 215-405-0790
• 1901 JFK Boulevard, SP + Parking, 215-557-3721
• 36 South 19th Street, SP + Parking, 215-561-1187
•1700 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, The Windsor Suites, 215-569-0899

» When and where is bib pickup?
To nab your race packet and bib, runners should head to the Health and Fitness Expo at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (1101 Arch Street) on Friday, November 17th, from noon to 9 p.m or on Saturday, November 18th, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. While you’re there, you might as well look around — the Expo will be full of fun stuff like vendors showcasing running apparel and accessories, health and fitness tips, and lots of free samples. Plus, there will be tons of Philadelphia Marathon merch on sale. Non-runners are welcome at the expo as well, so bring your friends!

» Where will the Porta Potties be? And will there be water stops (and toilets!) along the course?
These are, perhaps, the most important questions pertaining to the race. There will be toilets at the start/finish area, but the Porta Potties in Eakins Oval are always mobbed. Running coach Marcy Gialdo pointed out to us that the ones along Pennsylvania Avenue near 24th Street are usually way less crowded.

During the race, Porta Potties will be located at all 22 water stops (listed below). For those who need a little extra refueling, there will be Carb Boom! energy gels offered at miles 10, 17 and 22.

Porta Potties and Water Stops for the Marathon

1. Pre-race water: Eakins Oval
2. Columbus Boulevard & Race Street: Mile 2.2
3. Columbus Boulevard near Christian Street: Mile 3.4
4. 6th and Walnut Streets: Mile 5.1
5. 31st and Chestnut Streets: Mile 7.1
6. 34th Street and Fairmount Avenue: Mile 8.3
7. Avenue of the Republic:  Mile 9.8
8. Disabled Rowers’ Boathouse, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Black Road: Mile 11.9
9. Kelly Drive and Sedgley Avenue: Miles 14.4 and 25.7
10. Kelly Drive and Fountain Green: Miles 15.5 and 24.6
11. Kelly Drive and Ferry Street: Miles 17.8 and 22.3
12. Main Street and Ridge Avenue: Miles 18.7 and 21.3
13. Main and Cotton Streets, Winnie’s LeBus: Miles 19.8 and 20.2
14. Finish Line, Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Porta Potties and Water Stops for the Half Marathon

1. Pre-race water: Eakins Oval
2. Columbus Boulevard and Race Street
3. Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue: Mile 4.1
4. 13th and Locust Streets: Mile 6.1
5. 33rd and Market Streets: Mile 7.8
6. Reservoir Drive (Smith Memorial Playground)
7. Disabled Rowers Boathouse (MLK Drive): Mile 11.1
8. Kelly Drive and Sedgely Drive: Mile 12.6

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Marathon

» I’m going to watch the race. Where should I stand and cheer?
Supportive (and loud!) spectators are what makes the Philadelphia Marathon so awesome, so yay for you! There are cheer zones located all over the course, but the water stops are definitely the hot cheering spots. To help you plan, check out this list of cheer zones (with approximate times!) suggested by the race here.

Want our recommendations for the best spots to cheer? We’re so glad you asked!

For the Beer: East Falls and Manayunk
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 usually a cheer station 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.

For the Solitude: Kelly Drive 
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.

If huge mob-like crowds aren’t for you, we suggest steering clear of the start and finish line for two reasons: 1) The runners are plenty amped on their own, so they really don’t need you there; and 2) It’s just so stinkin’ packed. Better to plant yourself along the course — just be sure to tell your runner where you’ll be, so they know where to look for you — and meet up with them afterward. If you are dying to get that finish-line photo, stand somewhere in Center City and watch them whiz by in the first part of the race, then elbow your way to the finish line and plant it there until they cross.

» I’m going to get really tired of clapping. What else can I do to cheer on runners? 
Glad you asked! We have a list of 10 ideas to help you be the awesomest spectator ever. Study up.

Where to Find Coffee Before and During the Philadelphia Marathon

At these early hours, coffee is crucial.

Whether you’re getting up at the crack of dawn to cheer on 30,000 runners or you’re running the dang thing yourself, coffee is downright mandatory. Can I get an AMEN? To take the groggy early morning guesswork out of the situation, we sorted out the coffee shops along the course that will be chipperly serving up some chicory, for your caffeine-fueled convenience.

Coffee Shops Near the Start/Finish Line
Starbucks: 1945 Callowhill Street. Opens at 5:30 a.m. Saturday; 6 a.m. Sunday.
Wawa: 2040 Hamilton Street. Open 24 hours.
Wawa: 1707 Arch Street. Open 24 hours. (Go here if you’re walking from City Hall!)
Dunkin’ Donuts: 1500 Spring Garden Street. Opens at 6 a.m.
Dunkin’ Donuts: 1600 John F Kennedy Boulevard. Opens at 6 a.m.
7-Eleven: 1 Franklin Town Boulevard. Open 24 hours.

Coffee Shops Along the Course
Love Park
Starbucks — 1600 Arch Street. Opens at 6:30 a.m.

10th and Arch Streets, Friendship Gate
7-Eleven — 917 Filbert Street. Open 24 hours.

Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue
Dunkin’ Donuts — 1100 S Christopher Columbus Boulevard. Open 24 hours.

2nd and South Streets
Dunkin’ Donuts — 308 South Street. Opens at 5 a.m.
Starbucks — 347 South Street. Opens at 5:30 a.m.

6th and Walnut Streets
Starbucks — 200 West Washington Square. Opens at 6 a.m.

Broad and Chestnut Streets
La Colombe — 1414 South Penn Square. Opens at 8 a.m.
Dunkin’ Donuts — 1509 Chestnut Street. Opens at 5:00 a.m.

21st and Chestnut Streets
7-Eleven — 2200 Market Street. Open 24 hours.
Dunkin’ Donuts — 2001 Chestnut Street. Opens at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday and 5:30 a.m on Sundays.

32nd and Chestnut Streets
Starbucks — 3401 Walnut Street. Opens at 6 a.m.
Dunkin’ Donuts — 3437 Walnut Street. Opens at 5:30 a.m.

West Memorial Hall Drive, Please Touch Museum
Dunkin’ Donuts — 1501 North 52nd Street. Open 24 hours.

Kelly Drive and Sedgley Avenue
Cosmic Cafe — 1 Boathouse Row. Opens at 8 a.m.

Kelly Drive and Ferry Street
Trolley Car Cafe — 3269 South Ferry Road. Opens at 7 a.m.
Dunkin’ Donuts — 4268 Ridge Avenue. Open 24 hours.
Vault and Vine — 3507 Midvale Avenue. Opens at 7 a.m.

Main and Cotton Streets
Volo Coffeehouse — 4360 Main Street. Opens at 7:30 a.m.
Starbucks — 4415 Main Street. Opens at 6 a.m. on Saturday and 6:30 a.m. on Sundays.

Philadelphia Marathon Maps

Because we would never want you to get lost, here are all the Philadelphia Marathon maps you will ever need.

Full Marathon Map
Half Marathon Map

Where to Get Brunch and Beer After the Race

Is there any other way to refuel after an epic marathon finish? We think not. 

After running for literally miles upon miles, you deserve an ice-cold alcoholic beverage and a hearty brunch. Below, you’ll find spots within hobbling-distance from the finish line that serve both.

The Belgian Cafe
Where: 601 North 21st St., 215-235-3500.
Opens at: 11 a.m.

The Bishop’s Collar 
Where: 2349 Fairmount Ave., 215-765-1616.
Opens at: 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Where: 726 North 24th Street, 215-232-3232.
Opens at: 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Where: 2028 Fairmount Avenue, 215-763-5500.
Opens at: 9 a.m.

Hickory Lane
Where: 2025 Fairmount Avenue, 215-769-2420.
Opens at: 10 a.m.

Jack’s Firehouse
Where: 2130 Fairmount Avenue, 215-232-9000.
Opens at: 11 a.m.

The Kite and Key
Where: 1836 Callowhill Street, 215-568-1818.
Opens at: 11 a.m.

La Calaca Feliz 
Where: 2321 Fairmount Avenue, 215-787-9930.
Opens at: 11 a.m.

London Grill
Where: 2301 Fairmount Avenue, 215-978-4545.
Opens at: 10 a.m.

McCrossen’s Tavern
Where: 529 North 20th Street, 215-854-0923.
Opens at: 10:30 a.m.

Pizzeria Vetri
Where: 1939 Callowhill Street, 215-600-2629
Opens at: 11 a.m.
(Note: This is not your typical bacon and eggs brunch, but doesn’t pizza sound delicious after such a long run?)

Sabrina’s Café & Spencer’s Too
Where: 1804 Callowhill Street, 215-636-9061.
Opens at: 8 a.m.
(Note: Sabrina’s is BYO, so come prepared!)

Urban Saloon 
Where: 2120 Fairmount Avenue, 215-232-5359.
Opens at: 11 a.m.

So there you have it, folks! You’re one-click survival guide for Philadelphia Marathon weekend. Here’s to many, many more!

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