12 Observations from the 2012 Broad Street Run

My takeaways from this year’s race.

1. The starting area was chaos. I guess I should have expected it since the race sold out in record time, but good lord that starting line was crammed. By the time the final note of the National Anthem rang out, I couldn’t do much else besides stand stick-straight, shoulder-to-shoulder with the 40,000 runners around me. I was supposed to be in the Green Corral, which race organizers decided to shove off to the side on Somerville Avenue. It might have been a good idea in theory, but it created a massive bottleneck at the intersection of Broad and Somerville—and that’s exactly where I got trapped. So I’ll say this: I assume there was a Green Corral somewhere, but I never got to see it with my own two eyes.

2. “I waited 3 hours to register for this??” Someone had that printed on a T-shirt. It made me laugh.

3. A spectator dressed up like a well-manicured foot. Philly.com captured photographic evidence (go to #21). God bless that woman.

4. I was *thisclose* to finally high-fiving Mayor Nutter. And then some guy ran between us! I was pissed.

5. Scare tactics work. By all accounts, Broad Street organizers succeeded in scaring runners into getting their butts to the starting line bright and early. My running buddy, who was driving in from the ‘burbs, said she left her house at 5:45 in order to get to the train near the stadiums by 6:30—the appointed time at which race organizers said runners should be loading. That meant she stood at the starting line for well over an hour before the race began. I boarded a train at City Hall around 7:15 and only had to let one packed train go by before another came with a nearly empty car, which sure beats the heck of out SEPTA-induced claustrophobia. Another Philly Mag staffer said she boarded a train at Spring Garden Street at 7:45, and even managed to get a seat. She was at the start line by 8:10.

6. They should put deodorant in the swag bags. Speaking of SEPTA, rumor has it that the trains leaving the stadium post-race were sweatier and smellier than the rankest gym locker room you could possibly imagine. Like, as if you were crawling inside a sweat-soaked sock. Perhaps Old Spice could be a sponsor next year?

7. Is a race the right time to pop the question? I say yes, if that’s your thing, as long as you’re courteous to other runners. Another Philly Mag editor saw a guy get down on one knee and propose to his girlfriend after they crossed the finish line. A tad cliche, sure, but at least this guy did it right: He moved off to the side and out of the way of incoming runners before popping the question. Squeals and cheers reportedly ensued. (And she said yes.)

8. Lots of people wore their 2012 Broad Street Run T-shirts. Of course I expected this, but it raises the age-old question: Is it cool or embarrassing to wear the shirt from the race you’re running while you’re running it? Isn’t sort of like wearing a band’s T-shirt to the concert?

9. The crowds between miles 1 and 9.5 were awesome. Spectators, I think I speak for all of us runners when I say: Thanks for cheering. Nothing’s worse than a quiet stretch of a race course when all you can hear are hundreds of feet pounding pavement. Your cheers and high-fives really do help keep our spirits high.

10. The crowds between mile 9.5 and the finish line absolutely sucked. Hey, people: If you’re standing within a quarter-mile of the finish line, you need to plan on screaming your heads off the entire time, not just when you see someone you know. Maybe this was only my experience, but when I came through the gates at the Navy Yard, the crowd was so ominously quiet and zombie-like, I thought something tragic had just happened. I swear I could hear a pin drop (even over the din of my headphones!), and it didn’t get much better the closer I got to the finish line. It was one of the oddest and most surreal race experiences I’ve ever had.

11. I heart the volunteers. We runners are often too busy gasping for air to thank to the volunteers who hand us water and Gatorade during a race. So I’d like to take this opportunity, while I’m breathing normally, to officially thank everyone who gave up their Sunday morning to keep me well hydrated. Same goes for the folks in the tents afterwards handing out bananas and pretzels. Ya’ll rock.

12. We almost brought down the internet again! You may have blocked it from your memory, but remember back in February when you registered for Broad Street and you had to refresh for hours and hours in order to get the dang website to work. Well, folks, we did it again: If you attempted to check your official time yesterday afternoon, you were met with a “Sorry, try again later” message on the Active.com page where the results were posted. One editor called it “eerily reminiscent” of the February debacle, and she’s right. Maybe next year we’ll bring down the internet in its entirety. Something to strive for, anyway.

>> Tell us: What are your takeaways from the Broad Street Run this year? What are your best memories and—dare I ask—worst?

  • Rebekka

    Best Memory: Just as I was crossing over Reed St and was beginning to think the end would never come, a lady on the sidelines yelled “This is South Philly, YOU MADE IT!!” I am still laughing about it today.

    Worst Memory: People throwing half drunk cups of gatorade and water aside and therefore all over my shoes. There were 40,000 of us, where did you think the extra was going

  • Linda Carlin

    Best Memory:

    The presence of the Paramedics was awesome and reassuring! Thankfully I didn’t need them.
    The crowds cheering were also very helpful when you thought you were just too tired t finish.

    I love Philadelphia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Worst Memory:

    Getting close to the finish line and having to run around the spectators who were trying to leave, just annoying.

  • J Deal

    1. I agree about the start chaos… my tech shirt was stolen right out of my hands!!!!

    5. I drove to CBP from Cherry Hill, boarded the SEPTA line at Pattison at 7:45, and was in my corral at 8:30. I wasn’t seeded, so I had plenty of time :)

    6. Oh hell yes EVERYONE needed deoderant from the get go! Why did SPETA stink? Doesn’t anyone use it unless it’s free? Nasty!

    7. Never been proposed to, but would appreciate the creativeness and adrenaline fueled proposal. Just give the girl a sec to wipe her sweaty face and fluff her hair :)

    9, 10 & 11. Agree, agree, and agree. Touche!

    I love this race! I too have done a few 10 milers and half’s around the country, and no other come close in terms of enthusiasm and fun! But… the expo kind of sucks. All that waiting for a few Gu’s and compression socks? Really?!?!?!?!

    Still, had a blast and was worth the wretched registration hassle :)

  • Mike

    The end of the race system of immediately handing out medals and then the water bottles is flawed and created a huge buildup at the end as everyone immediately had to stop once crossing the line to pick up a metal and then water bottle. This causes peoples bodies especially lower halves to seize up. There was barely enough room to do simple stretching.

    They need to bring back the previous method of handing out everything in the grab bags in the field so participants can keep their bodies moving and avoid any furthur damage or sick/dizzness.

  • Lauren Stevis

    Our Lady of Hearts Church (right near starting line) could not have been more gracious to all runners before the race. We crowded their basement and they allowed us to use their bathrooms and water fountain!!! We stayed warm waiting for the race to start – a runners dream come true! Truly, truly grateful for their kindness and generosity.

  • James

    The most annoying part of the race was trying to pass people who were wearing headphones and could not hear my “On your left/right” warnings. Especially the one lady wearing them who elbowed me in the hip as I passed and pleasantly yelled “Thanks a lot jerk!” as I ran by.

  • David Wisniewski

    Race was great. First time running it. Biggest snafu I saw was the organizers let runners congregate right after the finish line – so if you were finishing, you really couldn’t run over the line, you had to stop abruptly which was dangerous.

    Other issue was the results website crashing frequently. I really hope the organizers fire their entire IT staff and find a vendor who knows what they are doing.

    Lastly, they need to do the bib pickup better. No way you should be forced to stand in line for 30+ minutes just to enter the bldg, when there wasn’t a line to pick up the bib.