More than a little creativity sparked the well-known, seven-part, iconic movie series of Rocky Balboa. Created and played by Sylvester Stallone, the films depict an everyday Philadelphian, digging deep, sucking up every drop of inner hunger to beat the odds, and sometimes the face, of visually stronger opponents.
Add a few decades, a dash more creativity, and a healthy stock of running events consuming most cities, and voila, Philadelphia has cooked up an annual Rocky Balboa half marathon race that attracts thousands of runners, many from other countries, who are inspired to test their inner grit.
A couple of family members running this race took me to the city of brotherly love this past weekend. Although there are a couple of different courses at the event, a 5K, 10k, and 10 miles, to receive the Italian Stallion medal, you’ve got to run the 5K followed by the 10-mile course. The total adds up nicely to 13.1 miles, the distance of a half marathon.
Relatively new as of 2013, this race is held the Saturday in November following the New York City marathon. The RB course supposedly replicates the run SS took during film number two of the famous series. Unlike a marathon like Boston or New York, which are more classic, downtown city events, this Philly half is a no-nonsense, country run which includes 1.5 miles of a stiff hill to climb. No half marathon time records will be made running this race.
Despite its recent kick-off, word of this spirited Rocky B running event spread quickly. For those who’ve seen the film, running the same streets as Stallone did years ago, then after, posing for a photo in a hooded sweatshirt on the steps of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art is alluring. Leaving our hotel for the start line yesterday was a couple from London who traveled to Philadelphia for two days, only to run this race.
The mood of marathons and their half-brothers can be infectious, with lots of good energy. Still, I didn’t run. Even a half marathon can be grueling. Evidently, I don’t have the craving to dig for the hunger it takes. Maybe that’s why I admire those who can summon the inner strength to run a physically punishing long-distance event. And hey, someone’s got to cheer. That’s a role I can dredge up.