AFTER THE FINISH
OF THE RACE, PARTICIPANTS
WERE ABLE TO WALK AROUND THE CITIZENS BANK PARK
FIELD FOR A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY AT HOME PLATE.
THOMAS E BRIGLIA/PHILLIES PHOTO
Inaugural Phillies 5K Draws Huge
Crowd; Phanatic Leads the Way!
BY JACK HEATH
PHILADELPHIA, PA--Not many first-time races could attract
3,100 runners. Then again, not many races have the popularity
and the backing of the Philadelphia Phillies. This years
inaugural Phillies 5K held March 26, attracted 3,100 entrants
and the online registration closed in a reported 12 hours.
- And this is before most of the online registrants knew that
the race would include:
- Being led at the races start by the incomparable Philly
- Phillies Ball Girls cheering on the runners at the finish
- A walk around the Citizens Bank Park field after the race
with a photo-op at home plate.
- Phillies Announcer Dan Baker reading out the race award winners
along with signed Phillies items as prizes.
- Sub-freezing temps at race time.
The less than ideal weather conditions did not seem to bother
the sea of red runners, most wearing Phillies shirts and jerseys
of their favorite players, from enjoying the inaugural Phillies
5K in the least
The first male finisher was 25-year-old Mike Zeberkiewicz
of Philadelphia who covered the South Philadelphia course, which
circled the stadium complex, in 17:00. The first female finisher
was 33-year-old Lynn Knothe of Wilmington, Delaware in 19:31.
One of the races spectators, Bill Reifsnyder, is no stranger
to great running performances. Reifsnyder, a three-time All American
at Bucknell, was a two-time National Champ in the marathon and
was ranked as the second best road racer in the country in Runners
Worlds 1991 rankings. He still has the third fastest 10-mile
and 25K times ever and liked what he saw of this first-year race:
The Phillies 5K is unique because it gives runners and
Phillies fans an opportunity to connect with their team in a
unique way, before the season begins. After a long winter with
no baseball, Phillies fans are ready to put on their red and
support their team. Being able to combine two of their passions--running
and baseball--and then actually get onto the field is a thrill
for everyone. In fact more than a handful of runners exhibited
their passion by wearing the entire uniforms of their favorite
players, substituting running shoes for spikes.
After the race more than a few Roy Halladays or
Shane Victorinos could be seen strolling on an un-crowded
Ashburn Alley or warming down while taking pictures strolling
along the warning track of Citizens Bank Park.
Les Marella owner of the race timers, L&M Sports http://www.lmsports.com/
was also impressed by the first-time race, and gave much of the
credit to Mary Ann Gettis, Manager of Marketing Initiatives for
The Phillies 5K went superb for a first-time event;
especially because Mary Ann had her finger on the pulse...she
did it all. You would have thought she had been a race director
many times over. There were 3,100 pre-registered runners and
they could go higher but probably only with changes between the
one- and two-mile area--the park down there off Pattison Avenue
where the runners turned into got a little too crowded along
the narrow road around the park.
After the race, the Phillies Mary Ann Gettis graciously talked
to Runners Gazette for her thoughts about the race.
JH: What were your goals for the inaugural Phillies
Mary Ann: Our goal for the inaugural Phillies 5K was to
combine many of our fans love of running with baseball.
Whether you are a casual or serious runner, you were given the
chance to kick off the season with the Phillies at Citizens Bank
Park. Most importantly, net proceeds from the event benefitted
Phillies Charities, Inc. http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/phi/community/charities/index.jsp.
JH: Did the race achieve these goals?
Mary Ann: We were very happy with the outcome of the event.
As usual, our fans came through by braving the cold weather on
race morning. They came dressed in running gear, Phillies
gear, and even full baseball uniforms, ready to hit the ground
running behind their fearless race leader, the Phillie Phanatic.
JH: How did the registration process work; how long
did it take the race to fill?
Mary Ann: Registration launched at 9 a.m. on Tuesday,
January 4 on Phillies.com. We reached our limit of 3,000 runners
in less than 24 hours.
JH: How many entrants would you like for a future race--is
there anything that may be different?
Mary Ann: We are still discussing future plans for the
JH: I cant remember seeing so many smiles on
runners faces at a race--what do you think are some of the things
that made this inaugural run so enjoyable for the runners?
Mary Ann: I agree, especially considering it was a very
cold morning! I think runners enjoyed this event because
it was a unique race in many ways, including the course, location,
guest appearances by the Phanatic and Dan Baker, and also because
the race ended with a photo finish at home plate.
The opportunity to walk on the warning track on the field is
rare so it was a nice to be able to see the runners enjoy this
JH: I thought two of the many things that made this race unique
were having signed Phillies items for prizes, and having Dan
Baker announce the awards; will they be part of future races?
Mary Ann: The ability to distribute autographed baseballs and
bats allowed us to put a special touch on the awards ceremony.
Hopefully these awards will provide great memories of both the
event and the Phillies for those who received them. Having Dan
Baker as our emcee for the Phillies 5K provided the perfect backdrop
for our event.
While hits from Sirius radio played on the Citizens Bank Sound
System before and after the race, probably only local runners
and Phillies fans in their 40s and older remember a hit novelty
song in the 1970s called Phillies Fever http://www.hark.com/clips/swcgwyjsyk-philadelphia-phillies-fever-fight-song.
The novelty hit featured Phillies legends Larry Bowa, Dave Cash,
and Greg the Bull Luzinski. Real Phillies fever is
currently sweeping the Delaware Valley as evidenced by over 160
straight Phillies game sellouts at Citizens Bank Park, and the
more than 3,100 runners and families who left the inaugural Phillies
5K with a great workout, a red Phillies 5K race shirt, and a
smile on a chilly March morning.
Editors Note: Jack Heath is the Gloucester Catholic
(NJ) Boys and Girls Cross-Country Coach and also works for Phillies
Mike Zeberkiewicz. 17:00
Lynn Knothe 19:31