Philadelphia Distance Run

Sun September 17, 2023 Philadelphia, PA 19130 US Directions
History

A brief history of the race…
Special thanks to former Race Director Tony Desabato and Head Cross Country /Track Coach of Jefferson University, Dave Thomas for providing information on this page.

The Philadelphia Distance Run originated in 1978 under the auspices of the Philadelphia Family of YMCA's to actualize the vision of Gene Martenson who wished to showcase the beauty of Philadelphia through a first class foot race that Philadelphia area runners could be proud of. The succeeding Race Director, Bill Jackson, augmented that vision by adding world class competitors to the field. In year one U of Penn star Julio Piazzo (1:07.35) and Nora Johnson (1:24.34.) won the race which at the time boasted the largest field of any first race in the country with 3400 competitors. The next year, multi -Olympic Gold medal winner Lasse Viren (1:04.48) and Lena Hollmann (1:20.06) won the event. The race continued to grow in size and prestige. World records were set in the race by Rod Dixon in 1981 (1:02.12), by Michael Musyoki in 1982 (1:01. 35), by Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1983 (1:09.14) and 1984 (1:08.34), by Mark Curp in 1985 (1:00.55), by Dionicio Ceron in 1990 (1:00.46), and by Matthew Kisorio (58:46) in 2011.

In 1988, the YMCA decided it could no longer support the race as it evolved and a Board of Directors comprised of former race directors and key volunteers formed a non-profit corporation and negotiated with the YMCA to acquire the rights to the Philadelphia Distance Run. Despite the initial absence of a named sponsor, the 1988 race took place without compromising its world class and community nature as former marathon world record holder, Steve Jones, won the race in 1:02:07 as a precursor to his 1988 New York City Marathon victory. He was joined in the winners' circle by former Virginia and Boston University star Leslie Welch Lehane (1:10.47)

In the late 2000s, Rock N Roll acquired the Philadelphia Distance Run and continued to elevate the race, at one point attracting nearly 20,000 runners to Philadelphia and maintaining a course known around the world for its fast speeds.

In the fall of 2020, a local group consisting of Students Run Philly Style, Philly Run Fest, and Runhouse, re-launched the race under its original name, the Philadelphia Distance Run, and have begun to write the next chapter in the event’s illustrious history.

CHAMPIONS LIST
Past champions are categorized based on Men’s and Women’s results. Beginning in 2021, the list ofd champions will include male, female, and non-binary champions.

MEN’S
1970s

1978 JULIO PIAZZA (USA) 1:07:35

1979 LASSE VIREN (FINLAND) 1:04:48

1980s

1980 ROD DIXON (NEW ZEALAND )1:03:39

1981 ROD DIXON (NEW ZEALAND) 1:02:12

1982 MICHAEL MUSYOKI (KENYA) 1:01:36 (WR)

1983 MICHAEL MUSYOKI (KENYA) 1:02:49

1984 DEAN MATTHEWS (USA) 1:02:14

1985 MARK CURP (USA) 1:00:55 (WR)

1986 MARK CURP (USA) 1:01:43

1987 MARTYN BREWER (USA) 1:02:07

1988 STEVE JONES (WALES) 1:02:17

1989 EL MOSTAFA NECHCHADI (MAR) 1:02:01

1990s

1990 DIONICIO CERON (MEXICO) 1:00:46

1991 ROLANDO VERA (ECUADOR) 1:03:00

1992 NOEL RICHARDSON (IRELAND) 1:03:13

1993 LUKETZ SWARTBOOI (NAM) 1:01:26

1994 WILLIAM KIPTOO KOECH (KEN) 1:02:04

1995 JOSEPH KAMUA (KENYA) 1:01:30

1996 JOSEPH KAMUA (KENYA) 1:01:02

1997 KHALID KHANNOUCHI (MAR) 1:00:27 (WR)

1998 PETER GITHUKA MWANGI (KEN) 1:01:58

1999 KHALID KHANNOUCHI (MAR) 1:00:47

2000s

2000 KHALID KHANNOUCHI (MAR) 1:01:17

2001 RONALD MOGAKA (KENYA) 1:01:25

2002 RONALD MOGAKA (KENYA) 1:02:22

2003 LABAN KIPKEMBOI (KENYA) 1:01:29

2004 JULIUS KIBET KOSGEI (KENYA) 1:01:17

2005 GUDISA SHENTAMA (ETHIOPIA)1:02:23 (AR)

2006 WILSON KEBEBEI (KENYA) 1:01:05

2007 JULIUS KIBET KOSGEI (KENYA) 1:02:02

2008 YEREFU BERHANU (ETHIOPIA) 1:01:22

2009 RYAN HALL (USA) 1:01:52

2010s

2010 MATTHEW KISORIO (KENYA) 1:00:16

2011 MATTHEW KISORIO (KENYA) 58:46 (WR)

2012 STANLEY BIWOTT (KENYA) 1:00:03

2013 STANLEY BIWOTT (KENYA) 59:36

2014 BITAN KAROKI (KENYA) 59:23

2015 TIMOTHY RITCHIE (USA) 1:01:23

2016 AUGUSTINE CHOGE (KENYA) 1:03:24

2017 GALEN RUPP (USA) 1:02:18

2018 SHURA KITATA (USA) 59:16

2019 DANIEL MESFUN 1:02:58

WOMEN’S
1970s

1978 NORA JOHNSON (USA) 1:24:34

1979 LENA HOLLMAN (SWEDEN) 1:20:06

1980s

1980 JAN YERKES (USA) 1:17:56

1981 JAN YERKES (USA) 1:13:33

1982 JUDI ST HILAIRE (USA) 1:13:13

1983 JOAN BENOIT (USA) 1:09:10 (WR)

1984 JOAN BENOIT (USA) 1:08:34 (WR)

1985 JOAN BENOIT (USA) 1:09:44

1986 MIDDE HAMRIN (SWEDEN) 1:11:41

1987 SYLVIA MOSQUEDA (USA) 1:10:47

1988 LESLEY LEHANE (USA) 1:10:47

1989 NAN DOAK-DAVIS (USA) 1:11:24

1990s

1990 CATHY O'BRIEN (USA) 1:09:39

1991 KIM JONES (USA) 1:12:53

1992 WILMA VAN ONNA (NED) 1:10:59

1993 COLLEEN DE REUCK (RSA) 1:10:26

1994 ANNE MARIE LAUCK (USA) 1:10:03

1995 TATYANA POZDNYAKOVA (UKR) 1:12:56

1996 CATHERINE NDEREBA (KENYA) 1:09:46

1997 COLEEN DE REUCK (RSA) 1:10:06

1998 CATHERINE NDEREBA (KENYA) 1:09:46

1999 CATHERINE NDEREBA (KENYA) 1:10:31

2000s

2000 CATHERINE NDEREBA (KENYA) 1:10:01

2001 CATHERINE NDEREBA (KENYA) 1:08:30

2002 CATHERINE NDEREBA (KENYA) 1:09:20

2003 LEAH MALOT (KENYA) 1:11:20

2004 NUTA OLARU (ROMANIA) 1:09:38

2005 DEENA KASTOR (USA) 1:07:53

2006 LINETH CHEPKURUI (KENYA) 1:10:09

2007 PAMELA CHEPCHUMBA (KENYA) 1:08:45

2008 LILLYA SHOBUKHOVA (RUSSIA) 1:10:21

2009 CATHERINE NDEREBA (KENYA) 1:09:43

2010s

2010 MESERET DEFAR (ETHIOPIA) 1:07:45

2011 KIM SMITH (NEW ZEALAND) 1:07:11

2012 SHARON CHEROP (KENYA) 1:07:21

2013 LYUDMILA KOVALENKO (UKR) 1:08:58

2014 ABERU KEBEDE (ETHIOPIA) 1:08:41

2015 MAEGAN KRIFCHIN (USA) 1:09:51

2016 BUZE DIRIBE (ETHIOPIA) 1:11:49

2017 MESERET DEFAR (ETHIOPIA) 1:08:45

2018 DESIREE LINDEN (USA) 1:11:48

2019 CAROLINE ROTICH (KENYA) 1:10:59

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