Penn Relay Distance Classic (20K) Race Review

Today of all days, I had absolutely ZERO desire to get out of bed at 615 AM to go run a 20K.  Tired from waking up at 500 AM for work during the week and not being able to go to sleep last night doesn’t bode well for a 730 AM 20K race.  But hey, I needed a long run, parking was free and that’s about where the fun stops.

The Penn Relays have been going on since 1885 and typically start with the distance classic which is usually a weekend or 2 before the actual Penn Relays (this year, they’re April 26-28 or so).  I actually forgot about the race until Wednesday when I went to check something online and realized it was actually today.  Woops.  I was wondering if this was actually going to happen as we got pouring rain all day yesterday (seriously from the time I woke up yesterday until after midnight).  But the sun was out and the Schuylkill River was high and looked like any more rain could send it flooding over the edge.  I arrived around 7 and had to find parking.  About 1/3 of a mile away was free street parking which is always a plus in Philly.  I picked up my bib and shirt and had to run and put it in my car before running back to the start in front of Franklin Field.

The course took us to the Art Museum and down West River Drive, over the East Falls Bridge, part of Kelly Drive and back the way we came.  I either love or hate out and back courses.  I hated this one because West River Drive can become monotonous.  And, it was a good 9.5-10 miles of the course.  When we got past mile 10 to where we actually had to make a decision about which way to go (up a hill or not), there was no good direction on where to go.  The Penn student volunteers decided to sit where we couldn’t see them and there was another race for Organ and Tissue Donation (a 10k/5k run or a 3k walk) that was setting up.  It was windy the entire race and I just felt like crap the entire time.  My hip flexors weren’t agreeing with me for awhile and I just wasn’t feeling like running.  I ran a 2:10:25 or something.  Had I been motivated and had this been a half I cared about, I could have PRed but oh well.  A run is a run.

The Penn Relays have been going on since 1885 so you think these guys have been doing this awhile.  While the Schuylkill River trail is nice, every distance race in Philly uses some portion of it.  The Philly Marathon uses both sides (which is why I only do the half since it only spends about 2-3 miles on it), Get Your Rear into Gear 5K/10K uses it, the Philly Distance Run uses it for a bulk of the course.  Can we come up with something else to use?  This race isn’t particularly big.  It’s almost like it’s a secret race that no one knows about.  Since it’s Palm Sunday, I give people the benefit of the doubt, but there were a boatload of people running the Organ and Tissue 10K/5K race.  The finish of the race took you into Franklin Field and around the track for the last 300m or so- I can’t tell you how much I hate races that end like that.  If I see the finish, I don’t want to run the long way around to get to it.  I think the Penn Relays could really use some PR help with the race because people would run this if they knew about it.  Still undecided if I’ll run this next year.  I have to get over the fact I really didn’t feel like running today first.

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