In two weeks, the Philadelphia New Year's Eve Midnight Run will return to the stadium complex and McFadden's at the Ballpark after a two-year absence.
As recently as 2010, the event was held at the complex in South Philly. "But when the Winter Classic came to town," explains race director Pat McCloskey, "we had to change venues."
Thus the event moved out to Franklin Mills Mall, where it remained last year as well. But 2013 marks the return of one of Philadelphia's most unique running events.
Let's start with the timing. Beginning at 9:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve, $60 gets you admission to McFadden's at the Ballpark, with open bar and free food until closing. But the real fun begins at the stroke of midnight, when a 5K race begins at the Mike Schmidt statue outside Citizens Bank Park.
"It's a nice, straight flat course," says McCloskey, whose official title is race director of the Bucks County Marathon Series, the organization hosting the race. "The runners go up to Packer Avenue, turn around and come back through the parking lot." Indeed, the majority if not the entire race is confined in the footprint of where Veterans Stadium once stood.
Then there are the costumes. It's New Year's Eve, after all, so a lot of people want to dress up when they go out for the night. Does that mean running a 5K is out of the question? Not according to McCloskey.
"Last time we were at the ballpark, we had a woman run the race in her wedding dress," he recalls. "It was a little cold out, so she wore Under Armour underneath the dress to keep warm."
The top three finishers in each gender will receive a prize, as will the top three Masters (age 40+) finishers from each gender. But the highlight may be the cash prizes—donated by Philadelphia Runner—for the first male and female to finish the race wearing evening wear.
"Doesn't matter if they finish first in the race, or 50th," McCloskey clarifies. "If they're first across the finish line wearing a tux, a prom dress, etc., they'll win the prize."
Every runner will receive a sweatshirt commemorating the event—one that Pat McCloskey hopes will become a staple in the Philadelphia running community.
"We have a great location with McFadden's at the Ballpark," he says. "It's accessible to public transportation, to local hotels—and it's a great spot to combine a race with a party."
For more information, visit www.runbucks.com/nye5k.html
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