With a summer road trip down to the Greater Philadelphia in store for us this summer, naturally we decided to see if there was a race we could try and tackle while down in Pennsylvania visiting family and friends. Thankfully, we found the Pottstown Half-Marathon and decided to book our travel around this race so last weekend ventured down 95 and headed to Pennsylvania.
Arriving in Philadelphia on Thursday, we spent Thursday and Friday morning in the city and did all the touristy things including checking out the Liberty Bell, playing mini-golf and riding the carousel in Franklin Square Park and taking the kids to the Please Touch Museum, a great children’s museum you must check out if in Philadelphia. After visiting some friends and their newborn we then made our way west of the city and stayed with family in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania for the rest of the trip.
Last weekend, the summer heat certainly fell across Pennsylvania and the temperatures reached the mid-to-high 90’s so thankfully both pre- and post-race we were able to take advantage of a beautiful swimming pool to help relax and cool off in.
The Pottstown Half-Marathon is put on by the Sly Fox Track Club which is affiliated with Sly Fox Brewing Company, which is located in Pottstown. The day before the half-marathon we made our way over to the brewery to sample a pint and for some appetizers (gotta carbo-load, right?) and the bib pickup and expo took place on the side lawn of the brewery. The number pickup was a breeze and the friendly volunteers were great to talk with. The expo featured some local businesses and sponsors of the race.
On race morning, we made our way to downtown Pottstown for the start of the half-marathon. Race-time temperatures were already quite warm even with a 7AM start time and immediately it became clear that the heat was going to be a force to contend with. Mrs. Running Griffin and I decided to run together for this half-marathon and despite her occasional prodding for me to just leave her and run my own pace, we had a good race together.
The course of the Pottstown Half-Marathon can be described as significantly challenging with a good amount of rolling hills mixed into the course. Several of the hills were moderate to difficult and with the added element of the heat the course certainly provided a good challenge to even a well-trained runner. There were some parts of the race that were quite sunny so when you could find shade on parts of the run you definitely took advantage of the respite from the sun.
The race took runners through various different neighborhoods and sections of Pottstown and included a run through residential neighborhoods, through industrial sections, near the Pottstown Municipal Airport, past the Sly Fox Brewery, through a wooded park section that featured a quick unpaved path and then finished up after running through Riverfront Park and the Schuykill River Trail. A lot of the history of Pottstown could be taken in along the run and what helped ease the hills and heat was the fact that there was always stuff to take in along the run, and not just because I was running as a tourist.
The volunteer staff along the race course was absolutely top-notch and would compare against the staff of much larger races easily. Volunteers handing out water were supportive and appreciative of the runners tackling the streets of Pottstown, intersections were staffed by people ensuring runners made their way through easily and the volunteers at the YMCA were some of my favorite as they were blasting Pit Bull and dancing to the tunes as we made our way into that water stop. At the finish line, a great team of volunteers handed you water, food and your medal and congratulated each and every runner as they crossed the finish line.
Mrs. Running Griffin and I finished the Pottstown Half-Marathon with a time of 2:39:00, good for 12:07/miles.
I would highly recommend people in the greater-Philadelphia area to check out this race in 2017 and if you are looking for a great half-marathon to travel to, this is one you will want to add to your race calendar next year.