Runners gear up for 30th Philadelphia Marathon

ByCharles Watson WPVI logo
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Runners getting ready for 2023 Philadelphia Marathon
Runners getting ready for 2023 Philadelphia Marathon

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, were on hand at the ribbon cutting to officially kick off the 30th Philadelphia Marathon race weekend.

Organizers expect more than 34,000 runners from 50 countries to pound the pavement this weekend in both the half and full marathons, which will benefit cancer research. The American Association of Cancer Research, the title sponsor of the annual race, said it had raised more than $500,000 as of Friday.

SEE ALSO: Here's everything you need to know for the 2023 Philadelphia Marathon Weekend

The city opened up the Pennsylvania Convention Center for thousands of runners to get their bibs and check out vendors at The Philadelphia Marathon Health and Fitness Expo. The event was busy all day as runners and their families took in the excitement of race weekend.

Among thousands in attendance was Mark Sullivan, who has run in every Philadelphia Marathon since its inception in 1994.

"It was just one of those cases that we were here at the right place, right time to be in the first one, and it was a good experience so we came back every year," Sullivan told Action News.

He has run in more than 130 marathons, but he said he continues to run the grueling 26.2-mile trek in Philadelphia because he believes there's something special about what the city has to offer.

"If you go to other big city marathons, they don't shut the whole city down. You only get to run in a small part of the city. Philadelphia shuts the city down and you get to see all the best parts of it," Sullivan said.

At the ceremonial ribbon cutting, Mayor Kenney made a point to highlight the city's efforts to make sure race weekend was inclusive for all no matter race, gender or disability. That was a welcomed message by Chris Koch, a para-athlete from Alberta, Canada.

Koch was born without arms or legs but won't let that stop him from competing in both the half and full marathons this weekend. Koch participated in the marathon in 2022 so he knows the challenges ahead of him.

"The uphills for me are probably the most challenging. And then visibility, I'm lower to the ground," Koch said.

Aside from his own personal satisfaction, Koch said he hopes his participation in the marathon this weekend will help to inspire others with or without disabilities.

For many others, like Michele Losch from Drexel Hill, the marathon is more than just a race. It's an opportunity to honor loved ones who have survived and succumbed to bouts with cancer.

Losch said she was running to honor her father, Walt, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer six years ago.

"My dad has always been my inspiration, and just running with him has brought us closer together," she said as her father stood by her side.