If Broad Street were easy… it would be called your mom!

In the Cinco de Mayos of years gone by there’s been sombreros, brightly colored flags, margaritas and Mexican beer.

This year? Running! (Followed by margaritas/beer for some. I just wanted food, which probably comes as no surprise.)

Vic as we headed to the subway station.

Vic as we headed to the subway station.

The Blue Cross Broad Street Run takes place in Philadelphia, PA and is a 10 mile race that has been held on the first Sunday of May since 1980. Unlike many other races, it’s a point to point race and most of the run is downhill (but don’t be fooled like I was, there are a couple of uphill points!).

The sports complexes in Philly are all near the end point of the race (the Navy Yard) and were open for parking. We, along with many other of the 40,000 runners, made our way there bright and early, Sunday morning.

Thanks to Brandi for this group shot of us outside of the Septa station.

Just a couple of our friends that ran the race! Thanks to Brandi for this group shot of us outside of the Septa station.

Runners were able to ride the SEPTA, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Broad Street line free of charge the morning of the race. There was someone at the turnstile checking bibs, which was the “ticket” onto the train. She’s got a ticket to ride. Okay, I’ll stop singing now.

It was a bit chilly early on so most of us were wearing throw away gear that would then be donated once we warmed up and discarded them to the side. The guy checking our bibs jokingly said, “I feel like I’m on Runners Gone Wild and you’re all flashing me!”

That’s us: wild and crazy runners! Sidenote: the shirt that I decided to chuck was my swim team shirt. From when I was eleven. Yes, it was time to let that one go.

On our way to the start!

On our way to the start.

The train dropped runners off directly by the corrals, which was quite convenient. Most of our group headed off to a different corrals so my partner in running, Moe, and I said our goodbyes, good lucks, and good races.

Getting there early, we decided to suss out the porta-potty lines and found it to be long. And winding. We decided to skip it and find ones on the course.

Moe and I situated ourselves in the last corral, which was the BEST corral. Because pink is the best color (besides purple and turquoise).


Broad Street is a notoriously fast course, with the course record being 45 minutes. My goal was to finish around two hours, which I thought was an achievable and likely goal. This was, by far, the largest race I’d ever participated in and I’m not a huge fan of crowds so I was a bit nervous. The nerves proved to be unnecessary as the corral I was in was comfortable and roomy.

With a field of 40,000 runners, the wait time to get to the start was expansive. In that time I stepped on a discarded GU Chomp (ew!), tripped over people’s throw away clothes, and tried to peer over a sea of people to catch a glimpse of the starting line.

I prayed for a good, safe race for myself and my fellow runners. The Philadelphia police presence was reassuring and visible throughout the entire race.


With the events at the Boston Marathon still being so fresh in everyone’s minds, Philadelphia saluted Boston by providing every runner with a heart sticker that said “From Philly to Boston with Love” which all of the runners wore.

The race organizers also encouraged the runners to wear red socks as a loving shout out to our friends to the north, as well. Red socks for the Red Sox. We ordered ours from ProCompression.


Thanks to Chick Vic for this shot!

Crossing the start line, we all chimed in to “Sweet Caroline”. I was a little teary as we started off (and I wasn’t the only one). Races are always a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me but this one, especially so, as it was my first after the Boston Marathon bombings. Never once did I consider not running but I suppose there will now always be a “what if” that niggles at the back of my mind; that was never there before a couple of weeks ago.

The clock read 49 minutes when we finally crossed the start line. This time I actually remembered to press start on my Garmin and we were off!

Via broadstreetrun.com

Via broadstreetrun.com

When we first looked at this map we thought that instead of water stations, maybe they’d have Dunkin’ Donuts stations. Alas, those were cheering zones.

And not soon after we were off, we were stopping at the first row of porta-potties that we saw. There was a short line, only about five people deep and while we had to wait a couple of minutes, it was worth tacking on the time at the start. Every other stop we saw for porta-potties had a line of at least twenty people (every time we saw that, Moe and I would pat ourselves on the backs).

broadtemplecheerThe crowd support along Broad Street was, in a word, incredible. There were no “quiet” areas; no places that lacked the cheering and enthusiasm of people. It was so motivating. A few people that stood out were the children at Temple University Children’s Medical Center, who were wrapped in blankets and had their nurses outside with them, cheering for the runners. All the emotions! I swear, I cried more on this race than any other.

There were also many children along the route, and can I just say that they were very excellent high fivers. Enthusiastic and hands outstretched, I zigzagged from side to side to make sure I could get as many as possible (while being aware of the runners around me).


Caught this pic of Moe in front of City Hall, mile 5 of the race. This was the YAY CITY HALL moment.

So, let me tell you a little bit about Philadelphia City Hall. It’s right smack in the middle of Broad Street! It marked the halfway point and as you circle around, you then wind up on the other side of Broad Street. This area was thick with people cheering. Can I say it again? Incredible!

I ate my GU as I walked through the water station. I decided that if I was going to be walking at any point during the race, I was going to walk with purpose. Chest out (no problem there), shoulders back, head high, smiling. And fast. I ran much of the time but during those walking breaks, I did so with speed and confidence. It felt great!


Along with the children (and their equally amazing adults), cheer squads, churches, bands – there were people with signs! I love me some race signage. I mean, really. These are incredible! There were also official high five stations, worst parade ever signs, and dudes in sombreros giving motivation (with beers in hand). Oh, and a giant IHOP pancake. I love a race where everyone is out to have a good time, especially the spectators.

By mile 8, I was wishing for another GU. Or a banana. Or fresh legs. Something. But at that point, I knew there was only two miles left. As opposed to the usual 5 I’m used to with half marathons. That thought perked me up and spurred me on.


The Navy Yard sign was just ahead and I knew that from there, I had a quarter mile left. I was very grateful that my trainer’s wife, Sarah, let me know that the sign didn’t indicate the end of the race! I did pick up the pace a bit when I saw the sign and from there, steadily increased through the finish line.

Finishing the race with high fives from military made my heart swell and my eyes tear a bit. Again! I received my  medal from a volunteer and then Moe and I were able to track down food. After getting food and water (which was blissfully cold!), we found Vic and my husband, who were waiting at our predetermined meeting point.

broadstreetmedalsVic finished about a half hour earlier and we came in just over two hours, which I was very happy with!


The cost of the Broad Street Run is low and the positive perks make it one of high demand. The most difficult part was exiting the parking lot after the race, which took both patience and perseverance (next year, we’re bringing a picnic along!). 2013 was the first time they did a lottery process for people to take part.

I was thrilled that I was able to run this year, it’s been on my bucket list since I first heard about it. I’m already crossing my fingers that I get to take part in next year’s race.

What’s the largest race you’ve every participated in? What’s number one on your race bucket list?

Edited to add: Here’s a link to Vic’s recap too!

27 thoughts on “If Broad Street were easy… it would be called your mom!

    • Thanks for checking it out!

      I’ve heard so many good things about the Chicago Marathon. Actually, Moe (who I ran with yesterday) is doing that one this fall. 🙂 Good stuff!

    • It really was an amazingly fun run – the people along the route are what really made it for me! Plus it was well organized and a good one from start to finish. 🙂 Definitely going to return again (if I get a spot next year).

  1. Looks like you had an amazing time, Meri! Hopefully one day I’ll get to run it with you. 🙂 I think the largest race I’ve ever participated in was the Princess Half. As for a race bucket list, I honestly don’t know. I think it depends on how well my legs (and mind) hold up on the longer distances. I’d love to do the Nike Women’s Half, and also the Paris marathon.

    Also, spectators make such a huge difference to morale, don’t they? I wish there were more spectators (or at least someone specifically there for me) at my races.

    • I think you’d LOVE this one, Lisa! It’s a great way to see a little section of Philly and the love and crowd support surrounds you. It was like a big hug from the city and it was lovely! I feel like I do so much better during races when there’s a good crowd – just like I feel all wompy when there’s not.

      The NWH is on my bucket list too – I’m really hoping that I get into DC next year. Maybe I need to go back to school so I can be a student automatic. 😉

  2. I’m so glad you mentioned the emotions. I thought I was the only nut case that cries during races. Also, I had forgotten about all of the military high fives along the route. I went out of my way to catch some of those. The year I ran, it was a record high temp so they opened all of the fire hydrants all g the way. It turned into a very wet race 😀

    • Oh no, Jen, we can be weepy nut cases together! I cried all over Broad Street – leave tears in my wake. Around mile 8 I started thinking about G and his cast and started crying all over again. Hot mess!

      They had a couple of fire hydrants open on Sunday too, however it was such a perfect day so I didn’t see too many people taking advantage of them.

  3. Noooooooo! Not your swim team shirt from when you were 11! LOL, as a fellow childhood swim-teamer I still have lots of well-worn and loved tees from back in the day. Why are they so hard to let go of? I’ve heard such great things about Broad Street. Looks like fun!

    • I came downstairs on Sunday morning and my mom, who watched my kids for us, was like WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? When I explained to her that I was planning on chucking it, she got a little emotional (and took a picture of me in it to show my dad).

      Broad Street is an amazing race – so well organized and a lot of bang for the buck!

      • Mom really didn’t want to see the swim sweatshirt go. And I have to admit, I still have mine! I can’t let that one go! Others? Not a problem!!

        Great recap! Loved this race! I’d love to run it again!

        • Thanks Vic! I’d definitely be down to run again. I’m working on Dude to get him to run it next year. First up, maybe we’ll do the 4 miler on the 4th of July.

          • That would be great! I’ll attempt that lottery again. I really liked this one. GO DUDE!! So proud of him! And nesct year, we tailgate

  4. Great recap! I’m really glad I was able to get a bib for Broad Street because it was such a great race. I loved the Temple band! When I passed them they were playing Usher Scream and sounded awesome! I didn’t take any photos so I might steal a couple from you guys for my recap later this week 😉

    • I can’t wait to read about your experience! Feel free to snag photos – and hey, I have some more that I didn’t use so if you’d like me to email you some of those, let me know.

      I was super happy to see the ORANGES in the bag of goodies afterwards too! WE ARE NOT TOO SLOW FOR ORANGES. 😉

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  6. Oh man, I grew up outside Philly and never managed to conquer the Broad Street Run. I’ll have to come back soon to do that with my pops. Glad you had such a good time! I think the largest race I’ve done is the Boston Marathon. I was surrounded by runners the entire time, it was incredibly motivating.

    • I live outside of Philly, just over the Walt Whitman bridge! Were you on the PA side or Jersey side? It’s a race that I’d recommend to anyone, really. Being 10 miles, I know many first time runners start out with it as a goal and I also have friends who have been running it for six years.

      The Boston Marathon must have been absolutely incredible! I’m not at the point in my running career where doing a full is more than a fleeting thought but I want to witness it in any capacity at some point.

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  11. This is an awesome recap!! I’m doing broad street for the first time this year, so it helped calm my fears and told me what to expect! I’m super excited now!

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