Several years ago, Carl Ewald found himself slipping out of running shape. So to get motivated, he did what many Philadelphians do—he signed up for the Broad Street Run.
Joining together with some friends, Carl hired a running coach and formed a team. He got back into his desired condition and completed Broad Street. But he still felt unfulfilled.
"Broad Street is such a great experience," he says. "But every year, after we finished we'd want to do a half-marathon."
But when they investigated, they couldn't find any 13.1-mile events near Philadelphia in the spring. Thus in 2010, the ODDyssey half-marathon was born—an event that mixes the most enjoyable elements of running with the motivation to continue your training after Broad Street.
Carl Ewald is the executive director of the event, and is currently preparing for the 4th annual ODDyssey on Sunday, June 9. "Five weeks is the ideal amount of time for a runner to transition from the 10-mile Broad Street Run to conquering a 13.1-mile half-marathon," explains Carl. (Editor's note: The suggested approach for preparation is at the bottom of this page.)
But Carl wasn't going to create just any event—he wanted the ODDyssey to be all about the runners themselves—a celebration, if you will, of the sport itself and the accomplishment of completing two event like Broad Street and a half-marathon in a short period of time.
The race begins and concludes at the Please Touch Museum. Runners traverse MLK drive, the Falls Bridge and the historic Strawberry Mansion area during the event. But what makes the ODDyssey stand out and the bells and whistles along the way. Consider:
During last year's event, Carl Ewald estimates that about 25 percent of participants ran in costume.
The underlying theme of fun is present even at the race's finish line, where Sly Fox Brewery will reward each competitor with a free beer. In addition, the race medals has bottle openers built in. "The people I know run so many races that eventually, their medals just end up in a drawer," says Ewald. "At least this one will be in your kitchen drawer!"
Other sponsors offer perks along the course as well. PhilaMassages will have staffers on hand offering free post-race massages, while OCF Realty will sponsor a beanbag toss along the course in which one lucky participant will have the opportunity to make a 60-foot beanbag toss for the chance to win a $30,000 down payment towards the purchase of a new house.
Amongst all the side attractions and quirky features, Carl Ewald has built the ODDyssey into a widely-respected road race—one worthy of being named one of America's Top 100 Road Races last year by www.bestroadraces.com. There's only one thing—the race's founder, Carl Ewald, has never actually run the event.
"I've run the course plenty of times," Ewald clarifies. "Every year I try to run the course a week or two before race day. But when the day of the event comes, I've got so much going on as director that it's just not possible."
Nearly 3,000 participants are signed up for this year's ODDyssey. To add your name to the list, visit oddysseyhalfmarathon.com.
Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.