Philadelphia Marathon times should improve with flatter course

Posted: November 19, 2010

Although Karl Savage is not running in Sunday's Philadelphia Marathon due to an ankle injury, the Roxborough man knows the course and the race as well as anyone.

Savage finished third last year in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 2 seconds, and the 31-year-old expects the times to be even better this year.

"They changed the course this year, taking out one of the hills, so the times should be lower," said Savage, who instead will run in the half marathon that goes off at the same time as the 26.2-mile race.

"This course is mostly flat and fast," Savage said, "so runners in good shape should really do well."

City Representative Melanie Johnson, the executive director of the Philadelphia Marathon, said that construction on Kelly Drive forced the elimination of Lemon Hill from the course. But Johnson said she does not expect the change to alter the enthusiasm of the competitors.

"These are incredible people," she said of the 11,000 runners expected to take off at the start/finish line at 22d Street on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. "It's going to be another great day for the city."

The 17th annual Philadelphia Marathon is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday. The half marathon has 9,000 registered runners, and 3,000 runners are expected to take part in Saturday's Rothman Institute 8-kilometer run.

More than 50,000 spectators are expected to line the course to watch the marathon runners, organizers said. The male and female winners will receive $3,500 each.

John Crews of Raleigh, N.C., won last year's event in 2:17:15, and Jutta Merilainen of Ontario, Canada, was the top woman finisher, in 2:46:44.

The marathon course runs through Center City to Penn's Landing, University City, and Manayunk before winding along Kelly Drive and back to the Art Museum.

Here is a schedule of the weekend events:

Friday and Saturday: Health and Fitness Expo, noon-9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m Saturday, at the Convention Center, Hall D, 12th and Arch Streets. It is free and open to the public, and there will be activities, vendors, and seminars about health and fitness.

Saturday: Rothman Institute 8K run, 7:30 a.m., starts and finishes at 22d Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, near the Art Museum.

Saturday: Kids Fun Run. On-site registration begins at 9 a.m. Races begin at 10:30 a.m. at 22d Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Fun Run is for runners 4-12 years old who are accompanied by an adult. The entry fee is $15.

Sunday: Marathon and half marathon, 6:55 a.m. for wheelchair and handcycle competitions; 7 a.m. for marathon and half marathon, 22d Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Online information on the finishers will be updated as the race progresses, and the results will be posted online 24 hours from the time of the final finisher.

For more information,

go to

Races to Close City Streets

Here are the street closures that will be in effect from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday due to the Rothman Institue 8-kilometer run:

Eakins Oval/Ben Franklin Parkway, Art Museum to 22d Street.

Ben Franklin Parkway, 22d Street to 16th Street.

Martin Luther King Drive to Montgomery Drive.

Here are the streets that will begin to close at 6 a.m. on Sunday for the Philadelphia Marathon and will reopen as runners pass through. All race routes will be open after 4 p.m.

21st Street, from Spring Garden Street to Arch Street.

22d Street, from Spring Garden Street to Arch Street.

Eakins Oval/Ben Franklin Parkway, Art Museum to 22d.

Ben Franklin Parkway, 22d Street to 16th Street.

Arch Street, 16th Street to Fourth Street.

Fourth Street, Arch Street to Race Street.

Race Street, Fourth Street to Columbus Boulevard.

Columbus Blvd. (Southbound lanes), Vine to Washington Avenue.

Southbound I-95, at Washington Avenue.

Washington Avenue, Columbus to Front Street.

Front Street, Washington to South Street.

West on South Street to Sixth Street, Sixth Street to Chestnut Street.

West on Chestnut Street to 34th Street.

North on 34th Street across Girard Avenue on Lansdowne Drive.

West on Lansdowne Drive to South Concourse Drive.

West on South Concourse Drive to Avenue of the Republic.

East on Avenue of the Republic to Centennial Circle.

Old Lansdowne Drive to the Sweetbriar Loop.

East on Black Road to Martin Luther King Drive.

North on Martin Luther King Drive to Montgomery, then to Eakins Oval.

North on Kelly Drive to the Falls Bridge.

The Falls Bridge to Martin Luther King Drive.

North on Kelly Drive to Ridge Avenue.

Ridge Avenue to Main Street.

Main Street, Ridge Avenue to Green Lane.

Main Street, Ridge Avenue to Calumet Street.

Ridge Avenue, Calumet Street to Kelly Drive.

Expect significant delays when trying to cross roads on or adjacent to the course. Police will allow traffic through intersections on the course when possible, depending on the flow of runners. Cross traffic throughout the marathon will be pulled through the gaps in the race. Police personnel will be stationed at these areas, but delays can be expected.

Contact staff writer Gary Miles

at 215-854-4487 or

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