At a speaking engagement the other day, I was asked by a runner what I considered to be my favorite race.
That's an easy one.
In my estimation, there is no other race like the Boston Marathon.
I have run 54 marathons, and 16 of them have been Boston Marathons.
But, for a variety of reasons, the Philadelphia Marathon ranks a close second.
Philadelphia, named by founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, is a Greek word meaning "Brotherly love." It is located two hours south of me, and I simply love the city and its people.
I have suffered with Philadelphia sports teams over the years, but I have also run some of my best races there.
My personal best times for the 10K and the half marathon have been earned at Philadelphia races.
In my first book, Running Shorts, www.muldowneyrunning.net, I feature the Philadelphia Marathon in the chapter entitled, "Great Races."
As urban marathons go, Philadelphia is one of the best. The course is fast and scenic. A couple of hills break up the terrain. Runners get to run past Independence Hall, the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, made famous by Rocky Balboa, (You'll here the 'Rocky' theme numerous times along the way) and along both the Schuylkill (a Dutch word meaning "Hidden") and the Delaware Rivers, through the upscale area of the city known as Manayunk (now that's a Native American word), to a fast finish down the Ben Franklin Parkway, where Pope Francis wowed the crowds a few weeks ago.
In one of his last official acts, count on popular Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter to greet runners at the finish line with high fives for those who cross the finish line.
Crowds, especially in the early portions of the race that course through the downtown areas, and in Manayunk, around mile 21, are tremendous. Runners are like rock stars, and goosebumps abound. There is even a beer station around mile 20.
Coming off arthroscopic knee surgery last week, I will not run at Philadelphia this Sunday, but last year was one of my greatest experiences of my 39-year running career.
I ran the half marathon, and my wife completed her very first half marathon. We both got cleaned up and waited as my daughter Kelly and her husband Mike completed the marathon.
Most families wait until Thanksgiving to have a family celebration. We celebrated at the finish line a few days before turkey day.
The weather looks to be cool, temperatures in the 40s for Sunday's Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon. Good for runners, cold for spectators.
If you're running on Sunday, good luck!
If not, you should place the Philadelphia Marathon on your running bucket list.