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?