I don’t like running.
I don’t like getting up at 4am.
I don’t like having frozen fingers and toes.
But I love the Broad Street Run.
The Broad Street Run is the epitome of why I love Philadelphia. It’s more than a race. 40,000 runners dash past some of the city’s landmarks on its single most famous street: Noam Chomsky’s Central High, Temple University, the Divine Lorraine, City Hall, the Kimmel Center, the stadiums, and the Navy Yard. They’re cheered on by throngs of Philadelphians for ten grueling miles. It’s a show of the determination and strength the city’s known for…and always rewarded with a Philly soft pretzel and Tastykake at the finish line.
Last year, my family and I watched the runners–my sister, cousins, and friends among them–arrive at the Navy Yard. I was so impressed by the race that I was determined to start running when I moved to Colorado, and it motivated me to run ten 5Ks.
With my sister and cousins sitting this year’s race out, I figured it was a great time to volunteer at one of my favorite events. I signed up to hand out medals at the finish line. While living at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, one of my absolute favorite parts was being able to personally say “good luck” to each athlete before they set off for the London Olympics. Here, I would get to personally congratulate each finisher.
When a nasty 4am wake-up call interrupted my weekend sleep, I could only laugh when I received a text from Dom–who hadn’t yet gone to bed out in Colorado! I made my cuppa tea and drove down 95 to the Wells Fargo Center which was packed with runners and fans. It was reassuring to see Homeland Security and the Philadelphia Police guarding the route.
At a bitter 41 degrees, it made for quite cold work unpacking hundreds of boxes of medals. With 160 medals to a box, it was time-consuming and my fingers were frozen, but it was fun to listen to the volunteers’ stories: injured runners, parents of Broad Streeters, and those motivated by honoring the memory of the Boston Marathon victims.
After two hours of unpacking, the sun refusing to shine, and the temperature refusing to rise, there was a roar from the spectators at the announcement that the 2013 Broad Streeters–all donning red socks and stickers reading From Philly to Boston With LOVE in solidarity with Boston–had sung “Sweet Caroline” at the starting line and then set off. Nearly 50 minutes later, the first elite runners arrived. Not long after, I was ecstatic to see Vinnie, a former Owl Ambassador, cross the finish line. It was so exciting to congratulate him and give him his medal! Such a proud moment.
I yelled “congratulations!” (quite literally) 40,000 times yesterday, but while I thought I would grow tired of it as the race went on, it was more exciting. To me, it was more rewarding to congratulate the runners who didn’t just wake up and run ten miles, but who trained for months, who checked an item off their bucket list, who gave it their all. That put the biggest smile on my face.
I was a little disappointed I didn’t see our local celebrities, the marathon-ing Channel 6 anchors, Cecily Tynan and Adam Joseph, but it was still an incredibly inspiring day. After the last Broad Street Run, I wrote that I wanted to run in Colorado, and I met my goal. After this Broad Street Run, I’m upping the ante. Soon, I won’t be the one handing out the medals at the Broad Street Run, but I’ll be receiving the medal I earned. One of these days, I’ll be a Broad Streeter.
Already can’t wait for Broad Street 2014!