Disclaimer: I received free entry to the in24 Philly 8 Miler and 5K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
This past weekend I participated in the in24 Philly Race Weekend. Specifically I ran two out of the four weekends races: The Midnight Madness 8 Miler and Justice For All 5K. Even more specifically these were my first two runs as a BibRave Pro! As the disclaimer above reads I was able to run both these races for free by being a BibRave Pro. Definitely check them out.
Before I get into the races themself let me just explain the in24 weekend first. It is a period from 10:00 AM Saturday to 10:00 AM Sunday that consist of 4 different races. The major race of the weekend is a 24 hour ultra marathon. The goal is for each runner to see how many miles you could do in that time, the Male winner ran 133 miles and Female winner ran 118 miles.
What made running the other races that weekend so fun is that they were all taking place at the same location. So by the time I got to the starting line of my first run, the Midnight Madness 8 Miler, runners had been running the course for 14 hours already! The starting line was set up like a mini camping area. Runners had tents set up with EZ up’s and lawn chairs stationed by their tents. And inside the building there was a room set up for runners to sleep during the 24 hour period. For someone like me who only ever runs 5K’s, 10K’s, and Half’s this was a new experience for sure.
Personally this weekend was a whirlwind of fun. Since I was running 2 races within a 9 hour period with a 6 hour break in between I decided to get a hotel room close to the race. I knew the only sleep I would get would be after the 8 Miler and before the 5K so I needed to plan accordingly.
Now on to the races….
As far as pre race activities go for both of the races I did not participate in the bib pick up. I picked up each of my bibs as I got to the starting line for each race. Bib pick up was held at Philadelphia Runner the day before. I have been a part of that process many times before so it was nothing new to me. You go into the Philadelphia Runner store and usually a table is set up in the back to get your bib. Pretty straight forward and easy process. Since I had plans Friday I chose to pick up mine at the races. This was a simple process. I walked up to a desk, signed a waiver and got my bib and shirt.
The 8 miler was by far the most unique race experience I have ever run in Philadelphia. I say that because it took place at midnight during this race weekend. The course itself was the same course that every major Philadelphia race runs; up Kelly Drive, cross over East Falls Bridge, run back down MLK Dr to the finish. This is called the “Schuylkill River Loop” to locals. It is called that because you are running around the Schuylkill River the whole time. So while I have run this route a million times before this time was a lot more fun because it was midnight.
A beautiful area of Philadelphia is called Boathouse Row, if you have never heard of it check it out. It is essentially a row of houses where most major universities house their rowing teams and equipment. What makes it so beautiful is at night every house lights up. Google “Boathouse Row at Night” and you will see what I mean. During the final miles of the race you saw Boathouse row all lit up with the city lights behind it. Even as I type the description it brings a tingle to my arms remembering what an amazing site it was. I attempted to get a picture of this (below) but unfortunately between being really sweaty and trying to maintain running it didn’t come out as well as it should have. Run this race to experience it yourself.
The race management group also did a great job keeping the course safe. Since it was run at midnight it was very easy to get lost in the dark. They did warn all runners that there was a 1/4 mile area that was unlit, so to be careful, but honestly I didn’t experience that much of an unlit path. There were times where it got dark, but not for too long. During stretches of the course that were not lit with street posts they had their own lights on the course. They were also handing out glow sticks and gave away free reflective armbands, so they did their part of keeping everyone safe.
The course was well prepared with water and aid along the way. Since this was the same course as the ultra marathoners they were prepared for more runners than expected. At one point I got a whole water bottle, which is something I have never gotten at an aid station. It was perfect timing because it was around that time that my hydration vest was running low. So I slowed down and poured the bottle of water into my vest and went back on. Even though it was midnight, it was somewhere around 85 degrees and very humid so my water went fast.
Finally I crossed the finish line of the 8 Miler (my GPS read 8.58 miles) and it was time to rush back to the hotel to get what little sleep I could for the 5K later that day. I got back to the hotel sometime around 2:30 AM. However since I had just ran 8.5 miles and hadn’t eaten since 5:00 I needed some sort of food. Thank God for Domino’s. They used to be a saving grace in college after staying out all night, who knew they’d come in handy during a 9 hour period of running? Oh the irony. So I got into bed with my personal pizza and re-fueled. I recently wrote about how I am dealing with an injury so this allowed me some time to ice that injury before the next race. Luckily it didn’t flare up so I felt pretty good. Regardless I didn’t want to take any chances.
Finally I got to bed sometime around 3:45 AM. The 7:15 AM wake up call for the 5K came way too early. So early that part of me thought I could just sleep right through it. But no, that’s not why I am here. I woke up groggy and got off to my race. However between checking out of the hotel and getting the car from the garage I made it to the 5K starting line with about 10 minutes before the race.
The 5K was the final race of the in24 weekend. As the ultra marathoners were finishing their 24 hour race period the 5K was happening as well. The majority of the races during this weekend took place on the same 8 mile loop. So the 5K did not run on the majority of that loop but it did cover a good amount of it.
What made this race fun was, as I said above. while the 5K was taking place the ultra marathoners were finishing a grueling 24 hour period. So the 5K itself was a standard race for Philadelphia but watching people work so hard towards completing such a hard fought goal made it extra special.
The course was your standard 5K course in Philly. Start by the art museum, run up MLK Drive turn around and head to the finish. Unlike other 5K’s I have ran this one ran right in front of the art museum steps, if you have ever seen the move “Rocky” you know the steps I am talking about. Tourists refer to these steps as the Rocky Steps. (Hint: If you want to sound like a local they are actually called the Art Museum Steps).
I finally finished the 5K and it was time to go home (at last). It had been a long few days and I couldn’t wait to get home and get cleaned up.
So there you have it, I completed 11.7 miles worth of racing in a 9 hour period starting at midnight. This was by far one of the most unique race experiences I have ever had. Honestly I would have never done this if it wasn’t for getting an opportunity through BibRave. I think it’s an awesome community that originally connected me with runners all across the world but now is pushing me out of my comfort zone. It was an amazing weekend!