Philadelphia Marathon weekend draws runners near and far to raise money, awareness for cancer research

Weekend began with Saturday's half-marathon through museum district, Fairmount Park and Old City
A crowd of runners on the Ben Franklin Parkway
Runners at the ready for the 2023 Philadelphia Half Marathon. Photo credit Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)Philadelphia Marathon weekend kicked off on Saturday with the half marathon — running 13.11 miles through some of the city’s most scenic neighborhoods.

The day was blustery, it was cold, and for runners from across the country, it was perfect. The course took participants through the museum district, Old City and Fairmount Park. “[I] loved it, man, loved running through the city. Felt like I was exploring rather than really running a half marathon,” said Augustine Luke of Lower Merion.

He wasn’t the only runner who loved the course. Esteban Bernes, a Philly native, lives in New York now, but was happy to get another look at his hometown. “It felt good to come back to my hometown to run the race,” he said. “It was fun to see how it’s changed over time.”

As for how he planned to celebrate visiting home and finishing the run, he said, “We’re gonna go to Victory Brewery and probably Federal Donuts and get some good donuts.”

For some, like Sue Hailey Bautista of North Carolina, it was a first, while her friend Whitney Stan of New York was an experienced runner.

“I came to Philly today to support my friend Sue Hailey,” said Stan. “We paced well and I am really proud of her, and yeah, it was a great race.”

Bautista says she started running in May and plans to take on the Big Apple Half Marathon in December. Stan, meanwhile, is preparing for a full marathon in Houston in eight weeks.

For Fairmount’s Patra Konugres, this year’s half marathon marked, well… too many to be sure of the count. “I’ve done this race about 10 times. About. I feel great,” she said, before sharing, “I gave birth about six months ago.”

Her husband, David Marcucci, says he’s run the half a few times, including twice with his wife. Both say the new family member isn’t running yet — though she may have some half-marathons in her future too.

The fastest time in the half marathon was claimed by Peter Mwaniki Njeru, who finished in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 14 seconds.

Organizers say the turnout was so large, they ran out of medals for finishers. In a statement on social media, marathon officials promised to mail medals to anyone who didn't receive one onsite, and also offered discount codes for next year's run to those affected.

Running for a good cause

As much as the Philly races celebrate the running community, they also benefit the American Association for Cancer Research. Before the race began, more than $500,000 had been raised towards its $600,000 goal.

Brandi Steiner taking a selfie, and Regina Selman and her father after a run.
Brandi Steiner (left) and Regina Selman (center) are both taking part in Philadelphia Marathon weekend. Photo credit Brandi Steiner/Courtesy of Regina Selman)

Brandi Steiner, of Fairmount, ran in the half marathon as part of the AACR team. The certified public accountant was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year at just 25 years old. “I just kind of said to myself, if by this time next year, if at all possible, if I can make it happen, if I'm healthy, I want to run this just really as a way to just close the chapter on this,” she told KYW Newsradio on Friday.

Now cancer-free, Steiner said she was happy to raise awareness and money for all cancer research. “I've had over 200 people donate to the American Association for Cancer Research through my fundraising page, which has been an incredible experience,” she said.

Teammate Regina Selman lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and works as a licensed clinical social worker at a school. She lost her mother four years ago to stage 4 triple negative metastatic breast cancer. Selman plans to run in Sunday’s full marathon to honor her.

She says she and her mother grew very close in her final days. “We kept a journal that I would write a question for her to answer during her chemos because they were very long. Then she would write her response and send it back with a question. So we got to know each other in a really nice, intimate way,” Selman shared.

“Her life goal for me was to make sure that cancer research programs take triple negative metastatic stage 4 breast cancer seriously,” she said. “I've been a runner forever, so [it’s a] nice tie-in together.”

KYW Newsradio's Tim Jimenez also contributed to this story.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio