Broad Street Run

The Top 10 Things First-Time Broad Street Runners Need To Know

The race you've been training for is almost here. Running coach Cory Smith gives you the last details you need to know to prepare for Philly's favorite 10-miler.


first-time broad street runners

First-time Broad Street Runners are likely getting amped for the 10-miler this weekend. Here’s what you rookies need to know in advance of race day. / Photograph courtesy Independence Blue Cross

Each week leading up to the Broad Street Run on May 5th, local running coach Cory Smith shares his training tips and tricks for the epic 10-miler. Here are some of them.

One of my favorite quotes is, “The race is just a victory lap.” It speaks to the fact that, by the time of the actual event, the training is done. When it comes to Broad Street, there’s nothing you can do to get more fit between now and Sunday. However, you can sabotage your own success. The good news is, most of these mistakes are preventable with a little planning. Here then, we give you all the insider information, logistics, and tips you need to know to make your Broad Street Run go as smoothly as possible.

  • Get there early and be prepared to wait. The race organizers do a fantastic job of managing everything, but shepherding 40,000 people to the start of a race takes time. You WILL be crowded together on subway-level proportions, and you can expect to wait 30 minutes for the bathroom and 15 minutes to check your bag at the bag drop.
  • The area around the starting line is a little insane, what with everyone standing so close together, waiting nervously for the race to start. To ease your nerves, bring a starting line prep bag. We recommend packing a plastic bag with toilet paper, water, food, and extra clothes you’re willing to toss once you get going. (Make sure everything is disposable so you can throw any remnants away before you start running.)
  • Be courteous and respect others. Start in the correct corral. Don’t take pictures or selfies during the race if it doing so requires you to stop and get in other people’s way. Turn down your music, so you can hear if anyone’s talking to you (or better yet, unplug the headphones and enjoy the cheers of the crowd.) And don’t stop after you cross the finish line. Other folks are behind you!
  • You’ll need strength for those last three miles, so make sure to save some energy in the first half of the race. Think of 6.5 miles, versus five miles, as the halfway point.
  • Plan your water breaks. Cutting through hordes to grab a drink isn’t easy or safe. The water stations are on either side of Broad Street; try to slowly make your way to the edge of the route. If you must stop to drink, move onto the sidewalk.
  • Have fun! Broad Street is such a great experience, especially if it’s your first time running the race. Make sure to look around at the crowds full of high school bands, cheerleaders, and people just out there to cheer you on. This strategy will allow you to save your mental energy for the last few miles, during which you’ll need to stay on pace.
  • You’re not done yet! Once you see the Navy Yard sign, you have a quarter of a mile left.
  • No matter how difficult the race is, try to smile as you cross the finish line. That way, you’ll be left with more of a positive memory. Plus, photographers will be snapping pictures of you.
  • Have a finish line plan. Due to the large amount of people, there may not be cell service, so agree on a defined meeting spot with friends and family ahead of time. (Take a look in the provided runners’ handbook for a map of the finish line area.) Just don’t choose the Dunkin’ Donuts food truck. There are always a ton of people in line for free coffee.
  • A ton of volunteers — expo vendors, police officers, those manning the water station — are necessary to pull this massive event off. Say thank you.

Cory Smith is the founder of Run Your Personal Best, an online running coaching business that has helped hundreds of runners achieve personal bests in distances ranging from 800 meters to 100 miles. He is a multiple-time NCAA Division One Regional qualifier and two-time National Championship qualifier while at Villanova University. Along with his work for Philadelphia magazine, Cory serves as a running editor for Gear Institute and is a regular contributor for Outside Magazine, Trail Runner, Gear Patrol, and Gear Junkie.

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