Philadelphia Marathon Guide: Everything You Need to Know for Running and Cheering

Get ready for race day (and the brunch you'll eat after) with the help of our Philadelphia Marathon guide.

Read on for the only Philadelphia Marathon guide you need. / Photograph by Chris Waits via Flickr.

Note: The 2020 Philadelphia Marathon is cancelled. Read more here.

It’s the final countdown, folks: The AACR Philadelphia Marathon is a mere three days away — and the Half Marathon is just two! Thousands upon thousands of excited runners will be flooding the Art Museum area this weekend to run the race they’ve been training oh-so-diligently for, while thousands of other people — the beloved fans — will come ready to cheer with funny and thoughtful signs. Whether you’re running 26.2 or 13.1 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 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 Guide: FAQ

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

philadelphia marathon guide

Get your signs ready and pick a place to cheer using our Philadelphia Marathon guide. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Marathon

»When is the Philadelphia Marathon and when does it start?
The marathon will take place on Sunday, November 24th at 7 a.m. Arrive early to make sure you have enough time to get through security, gates are open as early as 5 a.m. The half marathon will be held on Saturday, November 23rd 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.

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, 215-751-9696 (only available for half marathon; closed on Sundays)
• 19th and Callowhill Streets, Philadelphia Parking Authority, 215-683-9813
• 23rd and Arch Streets, Central Parking System, 215-563-3650
• 22nd and Walden Streets, SP+ Parking, 215-568-4025

Paid garages near the starting line
• 222 North 20th Street, Standard Parking, 215-448-1391
• 1815 Cherry Street, LAZ Parking, 215-567-3744
• 16th and Race Streets (Sheraton Hotel), Standard Parking, 215-196-0293
• 1815 JFK Boulevard, Patriot Parking, 215-405-0790
• 1901 JFK Boulevard, Central Parking System, 215-568-4018
• 1700 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, The Windsor Suites, 215-569-0899
• 36 South 19th Street, Central Parking System, 215-561-1187

» 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 (12th and Arch Streets) on Friday, November 22nd, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. or on Saturday, November 23rd, from 9 a.m. to 5 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 usually mobbed. Running coach Marcy Gialdo pointed out to us that the ones along Pennsylvania Avenue near 24th Street can be less crowded.

During the race, Porta Potties will be located at all water stops (listed below).

Porta Potties and Water Stops for the Marathon

1. Pre-race water – Eakins Oval
2. Columbus Boulevard and Race Street – Mile 2.7
3. Front Street and Washington Avenue – Mile 4.3
4. 6th and Walnut Streets – Mile 5.1
5. 31st and Walnut Streets – Mile 7.1
6. 34th Street and Fairmount Avenue – Mile 8.3
7. Avenue of the Republic at Belmont Avenue – Mile 10.2
8. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive at Conor-Wood Memorial Fountain – Mile 11.9
9. Kelly Drive and Sedgley Drive – Miles 14.4 and 25.7
10. Kelly Drive and Fountain Green Drive – 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 Manayunk – 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 – Mile 2.7
3. Front Street and Washington Avenue – Mile 4.3
4. Juniper and Walnut Streets – Mile 6.3
5. 33rd and Market Streets – Mile 7.8
6. Reservoir Drive (Smith Memorial Playground) – Mile 10.4
7. Kelly Drive and Sedgely Drive – Mile 12.6
8. Finish Line – Benjamin Franklin Parkway

philadelphia marathon guide

Find out where to cheer in our Philadelphia Marathon guide. Photograph by Flickr/Chris Waits.

» 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 typically 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. Plus, you can check out the newly painted Philadelphia Marathon Mural at mile-marker 19 in Manayunk (on Quaker City Motor Sport)!

Philadelphia Marathon Guide: Where to Find Coffee Before and During the Race

At these early hours, coffee is crucial.

philadelphia marathon guide

Find out where to pick up coffee along the course in our Philadelphia Marathon guide. Photograph by Flickr/Rosa Hermosa

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 for your convenience.

Coffee Shops Near the Start/Finish Line
Starbucks: 1945 Callowhill Street. Opens at 6 a.m.
2040 Hamilton Street. Open 24 hours.
1707 Arch Street. Open 24 hours. (Go here if you’re walking from City Hall!)
Dunkin’ Donuts:
1500 Market Street Concourse. Opens at 6 a.m.
Dunkin’ Donuts:
1500 JFK Boulevard. Opens at 6 a.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. on Sunday.
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
7-Eleven — 917 Filbert Street. Open 24 hours.

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

2nd and South Streets
Dunkin’ Donuts — 308 South Street. Opens at 5 a.m.
Wawa — 520 South 2nd Street. Open 24 hours.

8th 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 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 Sunday.

32nd and Chestnut Streets
Starbucks — 3401 Walnut Street. Opens at 6 a.m. on Saturday and 5:30 a.m. on Sunday.
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 7 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. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Main and Cotton Streets
Volo Coffeehouse — 4360 Main Street. Opens at 7:30 a.m.
Valerio Coffee Roasters — 4323 Main Street. Opens at 8 a.m.

Philadelphia Marathon Guide: Maps

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

philadelphia marathon guide

Read up on the course via these Philadelphia Marathon guide maps. CesarOkada/

Full Marathon Map
Half Marathon Map

Philadelphia Marathon Guide: Where to Get Brunch and Beer After the Race

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

philadelphia marathon guide

Find out where to grab brunch in our Philadelphia Marathon guide. Photograph courtesy Sabrina’s Cafe/Facebook

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. Pro tip: Make your reservations now!

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

Bad Brother
Where: 726 North 24th Street, (215) 235-2460
Opens at: 10 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.

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: No, this is not your typical bacon and eggs brunch, but doesn’t pizza sound delicious after such a long run?

Sabrina’s Café and 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.

Photograph Courtesy of Philadelphia Marathon

So there you have it, folks! Your one-click Philadelphia Marathon guide. Here’s to many, many more weekends filled with running!

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