Philadelphia Marathon & Half Marathon Running Playlist

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Running Playlist

Rocky cheers on runners at the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon. (Photo: Philadelphia Marathon)

The 2014 GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, November 23 is a little over 10 weeks away. I’m running as a guest of GORE-TEX, my second tango in City of Brotherly Love. The 2012 race is where I ran my current marathon personal best of 4:28. I’m looking to put a huge dent in that number. So far, all my training and racing points to “Yes!”

To help me get excited and inspired to run the streets of Philadelphia (see what I did there?), I put together a Philadelphia Running Playlist with 20 songs about the Birthplace of America that make for good running company. Use it for any Cradle of Liberty race you might be running: GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, Blue Cross Broad Street Run or any other event.

Enjoy and please list in the comments any great Philly running songs I may have missed!

Philadelphia Running Playlist

1) “Gonna Fly Now” Bill Conti

No Philadelphia running mix would be complete without the theme from Rocky.

2) “I-76″ G. Love & Special Sauce

Hands down, this ode to the Philadelphia 76ers and the highways of Philly is my favorite song about the City of Brotherly Love. It will help you find your running groove for sure.

3) “Summertime” DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

It wouldn’t be a proper Philadelphia playlist without some Will Smith. For more comic effect The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire theme song would work in a pinch. But I’ve always liked the laid back vibe of Smith’s ode to hot summer days in West Philly.

4) “Streets of Philadelphia” The Fray

Yes, The Boss’s version is the original and I’m sure many will disagree with me, but I prefer The Fray’s rendition. It feels a little more raw and running friendly. Either way, lyrics like “I walked the avenue, ’til my legs felt like stone,” don’t get any better for marathon training.

5) “Philly Night” Berry Jones

A 2010 retro dance pop number from Philly collective Berry Jones, it’s the perfect song when you need to pick up the pace.

6) “Ring My Bell” Anita Ward

Okay, it’s not exactly about Philadelphia, but it does employ a very effective bell euphemism, and Philly is home to America’s most famous bell. Plus, the song does have lyrics like, “let yourself be free.” We can all pretend that’s about the Liberty Bell.

7) “Liberty Belle” Super Furry Animals

OK, so the song is really about the shortcomings of the American dream and history’s unlearned lessons, but it’s really catchy! And it’s great to run to. I love the “Whoo whoo!” chorus.

8) “Ill State of Mind” MC NeeKo featuring Deana Marie

No, it’s not exactly something you can download from iTunes since it’s simply a remix of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” with lyrics about Philadelphia. But it’s still pretty awesome, and that’s coming from a New Yorker.

9) “Philadelphia Freedom” Elton John

I have no idea what possessed The Rocket Man to write this song, but it’s a pretty groovy time capsule right out of the ‘70s.

10) “Motownphilly” Boyz II Men

Never in all my days did I think I’d get to put my junior high crush, Boyz II Men, on a running mix. Thank you Philadelphia Marathon for giving me the perfect opportunity!

11) “Punk Rock Girl” The Dead Milkmen

This Gen X anthem recorded in 1988 features Philly locations of yore in lyrical references to Zipperhead, a clothing store, and Philly Pizza Company, which were located on the city’s famous South Street.

12) “Dancing in the Street” David Bowie & Mick Jagger

Martha and the Vandellas first recorded the song in 1964, but as a child of the ’80s, I’m partial to David Bowie’s duet with Mick Jagger. No, it’s not exactly about Philly, but it does name check it. Van Halen also recorded a pretty spacey version of the song.

13) “Bandstand Boogie” Barry Manilow

If, like me, you watched American Bandstand post 1977, you remember the treacly “Bandstand Boogie” all to well. We’re going hoppin’ today, where things are poppin’, the Philadelphia way!

14) “Sweet Little Sixteen” Chuck Berry

Another American Bandstand name check. For The Beatles fans out there, check out their rollicking rendition on Live at the BBC.

15) “Ms. Philadelphia” Musiq Soulchild

An Neo-Soul ode to a woman who grew up on Philly’s West Side.

16) “Going Back To Philly” Jeru The Damaja

An LL Cool J “Goin’ Back to Cali” spoof courtesy of the delightfully deviant folks at It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. If you’ve never watched the show, check it out STAT. I can’t find any place to download this as an audio file. Let me know if you do! I want it!

17) “Night Train” James Brown

A name check only, but a darn good one. Any chance you have to put the Godfather of Soul on a playlist, you take it.

18) “Rock’n Me” Steve Miller Band

I went through a Steve Miller Band phase circa 1990-1992. This one is especially good for Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon racers.

19) “Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Huey Lewis & The News

Ditto the above, except the part about a Huey Lewis phase. Never had one of those. But it’s still a fun song.

20) “Eye of the Tiger” Survivor

I saved the best for last. The theme from Rocky III sits on many a running playlist and for good reason. Just think of it when you’re bounding past the Art Museum at mile 26 of the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon, ready to claim your moment of glory.

Here’s the entire Philadelphia Running Playlist!

I’m attending the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon as a guest of GORE-TEX. All opinions and posts are purely my own For more information, read my Disclosure Policy.

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Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

14 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Quite a few good songs in there! Love that you included a song reminiscent of Fresh Prince of Bel Air! “West Philadelphia born and raised…” :0)
    Lauren @ Lauren’s Glass Slipper recently posted..DIY Craft for RunnersMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      It wouldn’t be a Philly mix without the Fresh Prince!

  2. 3

    YES! Awesome songs!! :)
    Kaella (KaellaOnTheRun) recently posted..31 Years OldMy Profile

  3. 5

    Yesssss! I’ll be there too. Can’t forget DJ Kool’s Let Me Clear My Throat, which was recorded live at a club in Philly and gives many shouts out!

    • Karla Bruning

      Yay!! Thanks for the the recommendation. Adding now….

  4. Pam #

    I love how you incorporated the city you will be running in with the songs on your playlist. Tom was a big fan of Huey Lewis and the News for a while so I have a few on my playlist! I really need to update my music for Marine Corps Marathon. It has been over 6 months since I added anything to my playlist and it is stale.
    Pam recently posted..Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach VIP ExperienceMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I find refreshing my training music is a great way to refresh my running!

  5. 9

    If you could somehow time the Rocky songs to coordinate with the Rocky locations, that would be AMAZING!

    BTW, I now have Motownphilly stuck in my head. I’m so bummed I missed them when they were at CitiField
    Kellie recently posted..Save the Maelstrom!My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Haha, that would be amazing! Nothing wrong with Motownphilly in your head.

  6. 11

    Fun idea to have a playlist! I am looking at this race too so I will consider a playlist! I haven’t been running with music but for a full marathon will think about that.

    • Karla Bruning

      I don’t race with music, but I definitely listen on long runs and the treadmill. Without the other runners, crowd support, etc., the music helps keep me going. And I love theming it to my race! Let me know if you decide to run Philly!

  7. 13

    When I lived in Philly, our row house backed up to Zipperhead. If you went on our balcony, you could see the inexplicable toilet that they had on the roof and the spare mannequins in their courtyard. Good memories.
    Judith recently posted..Vacation RecoveryMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Sounds like an amazing place! Worthy of being immortalized in song.


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