This weekend was the Blue Cross Broad Street Run held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is labeled as one of the most popular 10 mile runs in the country. And they aren’t kidding. This year there was 40,000 people who flooded the streets of Philadelphia for the run. If you aren’t too familiar with the city of Philadelphia, Broad Street runs right down the middle in a straight line throughout the entire city. So carving out a 10 mile stretch to run isn’t too difficult. And the majority of the road is 4 lanes so it doesn’t get too overcrowded.
First let’s talk about the pre-race details. You could pick up your race packet in the city of Philadelphia or get it mailed to you if going down there was too difficult. I chose to go into the city to get mine because I like race expo’s. I like going down there and getting to see everything being offered and just getting myself involved with the race community. If you have read previous posts of mine, you will know I have never really felt like a runner, regardless of all the runs I have done. So to go to the pre-race expo’s makes me feel more a part of the community.
I picked up my race packet and it had my race bib, t-shirt, a booklet on the history of the race and your standard ad’s promoting future races in the area. Overall I wasn’t very impressed with the race packet. Broad Street prides itself as being the premier 10 mile race in the country. I felt like if you are going to make that claim than you should be held to higher standards. So as such I judged the pre-race packet to some other runs I have done (rock and roll half marathon, hot chocolate 15K and others). And overall the packet didn’t compare. The bag was just a clear plastic bag with a draw string on the top. Since the bombings at the Boston Marathon clear bags have essentially been made mandatory, and for good reasons. But, for example, the Philadelphia Half marathon was able to accomplish this by making it back pack style. Whereas the bag for broad street was essentially a clear grocery bag with a draw string at the top. So the bag got thrown away once I got home.
The official T-Shirt wasn’t as impressive either. The cotton style looked like one of the cheaper options the t-shirt company who made them was offering. There was no print on the back, so they crammed the logo and the sponsors on the front of the shirt. It didn’t look awful, just a bit cluttered. Again, you are branding yourself as the premier 10 miler, higher expectations are going to be placed on these things. I wouldn’t say the pre-race packet was awful. If I had to give it a grade out of 1-10, with 10 being the best, I would give it a 6.
Now onto the race….
When you have 40,000 people (plus probably a quarter of that in spectators) heading into a city, logistics can be a nightmare. But I can say the city of Philadelphia handled this well. Public transportation was made available at no cost to everyone running. So getting down there didn’t cost a dime. And once you got to the main starting area there was enough room to move around. Except of course in the bathroom section. They made sure to have multiple areas for portable toilets, but again we are talking about 40,000 people, so the lines were long. And the tough part of the bathroom section I used was the entrance. Hundreds of people were trying to get in while hundreds were trying to exit out of the same area. You could imagine the nightmare.
A few posts ago I made a comment about how the running community was so tight nit. People cheering others on and supporting complete strangers, it is refreshing. Well that goes all out the window when you are trying to shove through a crowd of people. Basic human instinct kicks in and we all revert back to our animalistic natures of pushing and shoving. Nothing awful, just funny to see when the running community is branded as so close nit.
So the race started really without a hitch. The course was great. Broad Street is a straight flat road with little to no hills at all. I’ve only been running for a year so I don’t know how much I can compare it to, but as far as I was concerned the course was perfect. And the city of Philadelphia knows how to come out for a party. This race easily had the most spectators I have ever seen. It almost felt at one point like there were more spectators than racers. But again, this is a big deal for Philadelphia. Local celebrities come out and run and the city essentially shuts down for it.
So I have to say the city did a really good job accommodating 40,000 people the way they did. There wasn’t any issues on the course (as far as I saw) everyone seemed to get their post race goodies at the end, and there was enough room at the finish line to meet up with your group and get pictures and what not.
I would probably give the race day experience an 8 out of 10 overall.
If you are a runner I would put this run on the bucket list. Or if you are ever thinking of doing a half marathon, but are nervous this is great to break you in. It is mostly flat so you won’t struggle as much and it’s only a 5K away from a half so you can get the feeling of what that distance is like. I don’t know how popular the 10 mile format is, but it is definitely a great experience. The city of Philadelphia shuts down and it is like, for a brief moment, you feel like you own the city. Philadelphia can get a bad reputation for being a bit tougher, and rightfully so, but on this day, for at least a few hours, the city bonds together and you really learn what the “City of Brotherly Love” really means.
The starting line!