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Your Guide to Running in Philadelphia

July 9, 2020

Do you like to stay active when visiting a new city? You’re in luck — Philadelphia is a city built for runners. And joggers, walkers, sprinters and amblers of all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you prefer slow jogs to 4- minute miles, blacktop or soft ground, the sounds of a bustling city or to bird song, Philadelphia has a running trail for you.

“You can retrace the footsteps of the Founding Fathers, take in the skyline from numerous easily accessible vantage points or listen to the sounds of your own footsteps along the trails in one of our beautiful urban parks like the Wissahickon or Pennypack,” said Liz Pagonis of Philadelphia Runner, a locally-owned company with three locations in the city.

“There are over 50 organized running clubs to meet up with and even more races that embrace and celebrate running in Philadelphia like The Philly 10K, Philly Run Fest, Philadelphia Marathon, and the largest 10-mile road race in the country that runs right through the heart of the city – the Broad Street Run.”

Find the trail, group, or tour that’s best for you and your running style with the help of the recommendations below.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge's pedestrian walkway is also a great running path that provides stunning views of the city skyline. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

You like to run alone

Pagonis of Philadelphia Runner recommends these five routes:

  • Across the Ben Franklin Bridge – Run to New Jersey and back via the bridge’s pedestrian path which can be accessed via 5th and Race Streets. It’s a three-mile round trip journey offering stunning views of the Delaware River and the Philadelphia skyline, particularly at sunrise or sunset. For more info, click here.
  • Kelly Drive aka “The Loop” or “The East Falls Loop” – This almost nine-mile run begins at Lloyd Hall, One Boathouse Row. The first segment stretches along the Schuylkill River to the Falls Bridge. Turn left, cross the bridge and turn left again, to head back downtown. For the very ambitious: Stay on the path, passing the bridge. The trail stretches for almost 20 more miles to Valley Forge National Park. For more info, click here.
  • Along the Schuylkill River – To get in a 2-mile run along the river, start at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and follow the trail which is both on land and in the river thanks to the Schuylkill Banks boardwalk, until it ends in South Philadelphia. The trail will eventually be an uninterrupted 99-mile path stretching to suburban Pottstown, PA. For more info, click here.
  • Boxer’s Trail – Nature lovers will enjoy this 3.8 mile path that’s paved in some areas through Fairmount Park where legendary boxer Joe Frazier prepared for his epic battle against Muhammad Ali. Start and end your run at Reservoir Drive and North 33rd Street (near the Sedgley Woods Disc Golf course). For more info, click here.
  • Along the Delaware River – The Delaware River Trail runs about 1.5 miles along the Delaware River from Washington Green (Washington Ave at S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard) to the Race Street Pier (Race Street at N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard), bringing you by some of the Delaware River Waterfront’s many public spaces including Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, and Cherry Street Pier. For more info, click here.
  • Wissahickon Valley Park – A scenic, sprawling oasis in the northwestern section of the city with a whopping 50-plus miles of trails in its 1,800 acres. Start at Forbidden Drive (named Pennsylvania’s “Trail of the Year” in 2018), the gravel path along the Wissahickon Creek, before seeking higher ground to hike the steep wooded trails that cut through the Wissahickon Gorge. For more info, click here.

Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

You like to run with a group

Philadelphia is home to an incredibly active and welcoming running community, with many running clubs based in each of the city’s various neighborhoods. Most of the 50+ running clubs host weekly or monthly runs that are open to all faces and all paces, with no charge or advance reservation required. There are also special interest running groups, including those who enjoy a beer or two after all the exertion.

“Philly has running paths along two waterfronts, multiple parks with running trails and clubs that run in all of these locations,” said Seth Weiss, head of Philly Runners. “Wherever you’re staying in the city, whatever type of running surface you prefer and whether you’d like to run alone or with a club, Philly has something to offer you.”

To find a club that matches your interests, running style, and pace, consult this list from Philadelphia Runner or this list from Philadelphia Magazine.

Photo courtesy of See Philly Run.

You like to tour the city while you run

Local tour company See Philly Run combines Philadelphia’s abundance of historical sites and its many running routes to create an all-in-one experience for those looking to keep active while learning about the founding of the nation, the city’s Mural Arts program, or even if you want to recreate scenes from Rocky.

See Philly Run even offers custom experiences for attendees visiting Philadelphia for a meeting or convention, proving to be an excellent way for attendees to network, all while getting a workout and learning more about the city.

Penn Relays. Photo by S. Spitzer, courtesy of University of Pennsylvania.

You like to run competitively

NOTE: Many of the events listed below have been postponed or canceled as a result of COVID-19. Please check their individual updates for more information and updated dates, if applicable.

Philadelphia is also home to a number of annual running events and competitions, which are perfect to plan a trip around if you enjoy participating in (or spectating) alongside others from around the state, nation, and world.

  • Penn Relays – The nation’s oldest and largest track and field competition, featuring top competitors from around the world at the high school, collegiate, and Olympic levels. Held annually at historic Franklin Field each April.
  • Broad Street Run – A true Philadelphia tradition, the Broad Street Run is one of the fastest 10-mile runs in the country. The course is a point-to-point race along Broad Street, taking participants through many of Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods. Held annually in May.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Runners are greeted at every mile marker by bands that provide music as the runners make their way around the city: from Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, through Center City to historic Philadelphia, back across downtown, then up the Schuylkill River Trail to Eakins Oval once again. Held annually in September.
  • Philadelphia Marathon – Offering a marathon, half marathon, and an 8k run, Philadelphia Marathon Race Weekend has a course for every runner.  Even children can participate in the fun with the short distance Kids’ Run, complete with medals and refreshments for participants. The main event of the weekend features the full marathon, a 26.2 mile race that captures the very essence of Philadelphia along its path, as it winds through every neighborhood. Don’t miss the Health & Fitness Expo, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

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