The Broad Street Run in Philadelphia is a BIG deal: a lottery for 40,000 runners in a 10 mile race literally through the heart of the city. It’s crazy and fun and very special to those who grew up on this area.
And I’ve never wanted to take part.
I raced Bay to Breakers in San Francisco which is equally crazy and logistically difficult but I was younger then and I thought it was fun. Broad Street just seemed like too much. It’s too many people. The transportation issues of a point to point race seem too difficult. It’s too hyped and too hard to get into. I never wanted to run it.
That is until I went this year to cheer.
I had many athletes running in the race and I was coaching the “Live Fearless” contest winner and I was looking forward to seeing them all. I had a great spot at Broad and Vine, got into position before the first hand cyclist went by and just waited for the sea of people, hoping I would be able to spot people. As each moment passed and the athletes started streaming by, I got swept up in the race and everything about it. In particular, I was enthralled with one man: a police officer, who was as much a part of the race as the runners.
I had to stop ringing my enormous cow bell to take some photos of this officer enjoying the race and the runners as much as the runners were enjoying him.
And watching this man and these runners, I fell in love with the race and maybe, for the first time, understood it. I do not know the statistics of how many people who run Broad Street are actually from Philadelphia or surrounding counties, but I’m going to go with a less-scientific guess of “a lot”. This race brought out the best in the city: members of the running community giving it their all; joyous, if not raucous, locals and loved ones cheering on the runners; and yes, even those in uniform were part of the exuberance.
It wasn’t a multi-million dollar concert that closed down the parkway or a fireworks show that celebrates our history-rich city. It was all about running down one very Philadelphia Street.
It’s the Broad Street Run. And I will run for the very first time in 2016.