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No, that’s not a cross on the Philadelphia Marathon medals

What looks like a cross is supposed to be a weather vane. Whoops.

A photo of the medal given to runners in the Philadelphia Half Marathon for 2021.
A photo of the medal given to runners in the Philadelphia Half Marathon for 2021.Read moreDiane Mastrull/Staff

So you’ve done the impossible and crossed the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles of the Philadelphia Marathon, or 13.1 miles of the Philadelphia Half Marathon.

Your mouth is bone dry, legs in excruciating pain with lactic acid buildup, and your eyes are bleary from exhaustion.

So when you look down at your medal, it takes a bit to focus. Is that a cross on top of Independence Hall? And since when is that a thing?

Medals given out to the finishers in Saturday and Sunday’s half marathon, full marathon, and 8K races are engraved with the date, the iconic Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall. But some runners, now that the adrenaline has subsided, are realizing that there appears to be a cross on top of Independence Hall.

But, there is no cross on the historic civic building. Just a gold weather vane nestled on top.

“The marathon medal, which is gorgeous, is odd in one way,” Alex Silverman, program director at KYW Newsradio, wrote on Twitter. “It depicts a cross atop Independence Hall; there … isn’t one.”

Another runner cited the country’s history and the founders’ firm separation of church and state when adopting the Declaration of Independence in the building’s halls.

“The founders would be horrified and so am I,” another runner wrote.

The answer to the random cross is pretty simple: It was a mistake made when casting the medals.

“It’s not intended to be a cross on top of Independence Hall, it’s a weather vane,” said David Wilson, the city’s deputy managing director for general services, arts, and events. “It was captured in the proof with the printing and design company, but skewed in the casting for some reason. We will take the precaution in future years to ensure there’s no mishaps with the race medals.”

The Philadelphia Marathon, in its 27th year, returned to the city after a year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, more than 21,000 runners participated in the weekend’s races. As many as 30,000 toed the starting line of the marathon at its highest participation.

For many, the weekend’s races served as a sort of catharsis. A positive test of physical, mental, and emotional stamina in the wake of a year that has already pushed so many to their limits. Many runners were first-timers, overcoming obstacles to successfully complete the marathon. Many others were just excited to be back outside, running among throngs of happy athletes.