As the first batch of runners sluggishly approached the 20-mile turnaround marker of the Philadelphia Marathon in Manayunk, the energetic crowd on Main Street erupted in cheers, applause and of course, cowbells.
They’d begun gathering for this moment just after daylight.
Now, the runners were in the home stretch.
Despite cramped legs, dehydration and sore knees, they were only six miles from crossing the finish line near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It was a feeling Bill Benedict of the Bryn Mawr Running Company knows well.
As the 25-year running veteran and his crew of volunteers feverishly filled hundreds of paper cups with cold Gatorade to hand off to runners, Benedict danced about, trying to eke smiles out of the exhausted athletes.
“This is the best part of the race,” said Benedict. “They’re about to head into three miles of no support at all ’til the finish, so for us to be able to give that one last energetic push means a lot.”
That energy came in a variety of forms today: in cups of water, cheers, sweaty high fives, and in some cases, memorable apparel.
It was hard to miss the man walking down Main Street in a giant yellow banana costume.
Inside was Matt Raquet of Manayunk, who came to witness his first marathon while cheering on a friend who was running in the race.
“We are here to support him and I’m in a banana suit, so hopefully he sees that and gets a little bit of motivation,” Raquet added.
Raquet wasn’t the only one sporting a costume on the streets of Manayunk.
Spotted among the 11,000 runners on Main Street were a Wonder Woman, a Santa, a ladybug and a can of spam.
Watching it all from the sidewalks were Carly Bonora of Roxborough and her niece, Ainsley Mark of Phoenixville.
“I came from far, far away for this.” said Mark. This was the second year in a row that Mark had slept over her aunt’s house to get to the race early.
Camped outside of Main Street Munchies, they had one of the best seats in Manayunk. “We wouldn’t go anywhere else,” said Bonora.
The 17th annual Philadelphia Marathon course ran through Center City, Penn’s Landing, University City and Manayunk before looping back through Kelly Drive to the art museum.
Daniel Vassalo of Wilmington, Mass., and Mariska Kramer of the Netherlands beat out the rest of the pack as best male and female runners. Both clocked in at around two and half hours.
For more information about the marathon, visit Philadelphia Marathon.