The Cooper / Norcross Run The Bridge 10k is one race I will always sign up for.
In my opinion, this race is a must do for anyone in the Philadelphia / South Jersey area. I highly recommend that anyone sign up for this race, if possible.
It does get a large crowd but the way the course is set up you’re not packed like sardines. They also do a great job of lining up the pace cues. It always takes place at the end of October / beginning of November so you start out cold and end up hot. Such is the case with many races.
What makes this race so special for me?
- The view: one of the best views of the Philadelphia skyline
- The fact that you get to run ON the Ben Franklin Bridge
- Running past the USS New Jersey
- Running across the outfield of Campbell’s Field
- The people! This crowd will get you fired up on a cold fall morning.
The course begins with you running uphill. I wanted to die. I live on the Philly side of the bridge; the race begins on the Camden side. You run over the bridge towards Philly then turn around and run back towards Camden. This is almost 3 miles. The remainder of the course takes you through downtown Camden (the good part).
The first time I did this race I was not prepared. I was still “out of shape” and, since the colder months had started I was not running as much. This particular day was the coldest we had seen in a while. There was a strong, gusty, steady wind, and did I mention you start on an uphill? I wanted to keep running home instead of doing the turn around at the base of the Philly side. My now sister-in-law Rachel ran with me. She was a real trooper and stayed by my side the entire time I ran.
“Come on,Matt! You’re doing great!” she’d say “Don’t stop now. Let’s keep running until we get to that lamp post!”
“Look, we ran 3 miles! We’re halfway there,Matt!”
I am forever grateful that Rachel did that for me and I’ll never forget the support she gave to me that day. But this proved to me that to run a successful race, not so much a PR in time but to run it without having to stop or feel any physical pain or exhaustion, you must keep running and practice,practice, PRACTICE!
I wasn’t about to make that mistake the next time I ran the bridge. I also had trained for 14 weeks for a half marathon that I ran the weekend before so I was good to go and feeling confident.
“If I trained and ran 13.1 miles than these 6 miles would be a breeze”
And they were! I knew I made improvements because my half marathon pace was around 11:15 and I finished this 10k at 1:02, roughly a 10:10 pace! I believe my first attempt to run this course I finished at 1:35. Quite the improvement! This was also one of the first races I did in which I never stopped. I expected to stop during the half marathon. Most trainers will tell you to stop when running that distance, at least for a water break and then get back in it. But I didn’t stop on this course, not even for water. I was determined to keep my pace going and to finish in a decent time.
All in all it’s hard to describe the thrill of running ON a major bridge like the Ben Franklin. I run on this bridge’s pathway as one of my training courses. It’s perfect because you get 2 uphills and 2 downhills in this run, which is key to any running routine. At a little over 2 miles in you can expect the rest of it to be a breeze. the return trip on the bridge is downhill followed by 3 plus miles of flat street running along the waterfront and through town.
Another perk to this race is that if you live in the Philadelphia area, it’s so easy to get home! There’s the Patco lines that take you into Center City or you could do like me, Billy and Bill did after one race – walk home over the bridge’s pathway!