Monday, December 8, 2014

Rocky 50K in Philadelphia

Rebecca telling everyone to quiet down because people are sleeping

Sure, it was only two weeks since my 50 mile at JFK, but I wasn't about to pass up a free, local ultra. In college I'd never pass up an opportunity for free food (okay, I'm technically still in college and I still don't pass up such opportunities). Anyway, now that I run a lot, I'm never going to pass up the opportunity for a free race. But this was so much more than a free race. It was a community event for a good cause, a chance to meet a bunch of fellow crazy Philadelphians, a fun way to see more of my new city, an opportunity to take part in a budding Philly institution (this was the Rocky 50k's second year), etc. 

As you might surmise from the name, this run is named after Rocky Balboa from the Rocky series, and it traces his absurd route from the training montage in Rocky II, in which the Italian Stallion is seen running from his home in South Philly, along railroad tracks in North Philly, back through the Italian Market in South Philly, back in Northeast Philly, out west, in Old City, etc., finally ending with a rush up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. See below.

Last year a writer for Philadelphia magazine traced the route on a map, and the awesome local Rebecca Schaefer decided to put the run on for real last December. It was apparently successful, and so it was back for Round Two this year. After some legal scuffles with MGM, that is.

About a hundred of us met in South Philly near Rocky's "home" before 7 a.m., and at the count of three we were off. Almost right away a fellow sandal-runner I'd met briefly during the Steamtown Marathon caught up with me, and we chatted for most of the first half, along with some of his friends from Pineland Striders, a South Jersey running club. This aspect of the run proved to be the best: The whole time I was around at least one other person, which made the whole absurd thing a lot more enjoyable, especially when my foot was hurting to the point where I contemplated dropping out and, of course, when it started pouring from mile 20 to the finish.

Passing Geno's. I'm on the right. Photo by Everett Scull
A photo posted by Tim Gorichanaz (@timgorichanaz) on

The fire hazard is real.
The route took us all over the place. Past Geno's famous cheesesteak joint, past the flaming barrel in the Italian Market, all over North Philly (twice), through Fairmount Park, including the cemetery where Adrian's fictional gravestone is, through Center City and Old City and up the Ben Franklin Parkway to the museum. All along the way, there was a nice mix of people who knew what we were up to and people who were wondering what the hell we were up to, which got us cheers and jeers and question marks.

A photo posted by Tim Gorichanaz (@timgorichanaz) on

A photo posted by Tim Gorichanaz (@timgorichanaz) on

Anyway, two new friends and I kept it together for the final 10 miles or so and brought it in to the top of the museum steps. I had to dig for some perseverance during the final miles, but it was such a rush finishing, as usual. Once we stopped running it was super cold, though (given the rain), and then I had to bike home, which was funny. I guess I finished around five-and-a-half hours, which isn't half bad given I was taking it super easy and we had to deal with the heavy rain and lots of stoplights. First road ultra in the books!

I was overjoyed to be part of such an awesome new tradition... The whole thing brought my appreciation of Philadelphia to another level. Can't wait for next year!
A video posted by Tim Gorichanaz (@timgorichanaz) on

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