This year was my 2nd Love Run Half Marathon. As an ambassador for them I am always excited to run this race, as it is the one race that truly kicks off running season in Philadelphia. The city has their major races, and with Love Run only being 4 years old, it has skyrocketed to one of the best races Philly has to offer.
This year was going to be a bit different for me. Since my fiancé had her bridal shower in the afternoon I would be running without her course support, and it meant I had to get changed and make the end of her bridal shower in time. So instead of my normal post run free beer that the race offers, I grabbed my medal and ran to my car to get cleaned up. I had to go from running shoes to dress shoes in a few hours and had no time to waste. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the course.
The race directors always do an amazing job with the race expo. If you can’t find it at the expo, you probably can’t find it anywhere. Last year the expo was held outside in a tented area. This year they moved it to a large convention hall. I can’t be specific about this, but it felt like a much larger expo this year. There were tons of vendors and things to do. They had stations set up at almost every turn for you to get a picture with official Love Run themed props. Whether it was back drops with mile markers on them or picture frames with the Love Run logo. Either way you’d be hard pressed to leave the expo without letting social media know which race you were running.
And the swag is always top notch. Runners received a long sleeve tech shirt, personalized bib as well as coffee mug. Every year runners get a free coffee mug with the Love Run logo, and I have happily been building that collection.
The course was interesting this year. Due to some conflicts with other races, the city of Philadelphia allowed the Love Run to race in more of center city than in years past. For most races in Philadelphia the runs are not done in center city. You may start out there, but it doesn’t last long. I imagine because it is very costly to shut down a major metropolitan area. Instead most races spend about a mile in the city and then head northwest to the more quiet part of Philadelphia, Fairmount Park section. However the first 4 miles of the race explored the city streets. So new for 2017 runners could run down the streets of Philadelphia and enjoy a view unlike any other race Philadelphia has to offer.
After those 4 miles runners headed out to Fairmount Park. Mostly the course was flat, however around mile 7.5 there was a pretty steep hill. Just a week removed from running the Half in Portland, this was no issue for me. This hill was maybe 100 yards long, whereas the hills in Portland were miles long. So I attacked that hill with plenty of aggression and ran hard up the whole thing. I’d like to thank Portland for getting me ready.
Miles 8 and 9 ran through the park section and back to MLK Drive that connects center city Philadelphia with Fairmount Park. There’s not much to say about MLK Drive. It’s a long road that most races run along due to the length as well as how secluded it is. So miles 9 through 13 headed back to center city. Right before mile 13 was the traditional small hill you have to climb to get to the finish line. This is where 90% of most races finish in Philadelphia so it is a welcomed site, because I know I am on why may to the finish.
The finish line was a great time. It widens out and runners are running across a 4 lane road with plenty of room to finish strong. This is also a centralized area for spectators so it becomes deafening as you are making your way to the finish line.
Once at the finish line each runner receives a great medal as well as plenty of post race treats. Water, bananas, heat blankets and even a free beer! (Of age of course).
The race is always well organized. I didn’t count how many aid stations were on the course, but anytime I needed a drink of water (or Gatorade) there was an aid stop anytime I needed it. Along with this the course is well mapped out and easy to run your own pace to not impact your goals. And you’d be hard pressed to find another local race with better swag.
I thoroughly enjoy running the Love Run every year. It is only in its 4th year, however the race directors know what they are doing. Runners are bound to enjoy themselves and I highly recommend running this race.
Have you run this race before? Or interested in running it? Check it out on BibRave.