Runners from across the country gathered in the predawn darkness on Sunday to participate in the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon, each for their own reasons.
“It’s a great way to collect your thoughts and get away from the world,” said Rory Diamond, 27, of Buffalo, who traveled through seven-plus feet of snow for the marathon. “I just enjoy it. You find your niche.”
Security was tight after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, but spirits were high as wave after wave of runners took off from 22nd Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway at 7 a.m.
Many runners participated in the race to raise money for charity.
“It felt pretty good to run for a reason,” said Dennis D’Urso, 25, a local medical student from Boston who ran the half-marathon to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association – Delaware Valley Chapter.
D’Urso said he chose the charity to honor a relative who lost their battle to Alzheimer’s disease, and his cousin, an avid jogger, who also passed away. D’Urso said his family members were on his mind during the entire run.
With 148 runners total in the marathon, organizers said, the group raised about $128,000 for Alzheimer’s research.
Forty runners ran for Alex’s Lemonade Stand and raised $24,000 for the cancer research charity – enough money to fund three months of cancer research, according to organizers.
The Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House raised about $10,000 with 28 runners.
But other runners were in the marathon just for fun and sightseeing.
“I’m an urban planner, so I like running in cities – and I heard Philly has one of the best city routes,” said Jinny Kanduja, 28, of New York.
“I love the Philly runs because they take you through parts of the city that you wouldn’t usually get to see from that perspective,” said Palavi Podapati, 23.
Podapati – a transplant to Philadelphia via Kentucky –said running through Old City and the Philadelphia Zoo were her favorite parts of the trip.
“It’s nice having the streets shut down just for us,” Podapati said.
The 26.2 mile course ranges from Center City to Manayunk.
Male winner Dan Vassallo, 29, of Peabody, Mass. finished in 2 hours, 17 minutes.
Female winner Leonora Petrina, 32, of Long Island, N.Y., finished in 2 hours, 40 minutes