2016 Broad Street Run recap

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Left: In my rain-free car with my 2016 Broad Street Run finisher’s medal; right: My Broad Street Run results

Just thought I’d take the time to write a recap of my Broad Street Run experience this past Sunday, May 1.

Despite a cold, soaking rain, I managed to complete the 10-mile trek down Philadelphia’s famed Broad Street in 1:31:52 — amazingly four-plus minutes better than my only other Broad Street Run in 2014 (1:36:17). I say “amazingly” because I was in much better shape in 2014 than I am now, as I was training that year for the Broad Street Run, two triathlons (one sprint, one international) and my first half-marathon (Trenton, NJ).

Then again, I’ve always suspected that I held myself back too much during that first Broad Street Run because I felt too comfortable throughout the race. I hovered around 9:40 per mile during that ’14 BSR and when I got through the first mile this year at 9:07 per mile, I thought I went too hard too soon. I thought I had eased up considerably, but I was still at around 9:07-9:10 per mile after two miles — and I felt fine.

At that point, I said to myself, “Well, it’s miserable out here…it’s cold and wet…if I can wrap this up a few minutes sooner, the better, right?” So I kept going at that pace until mile 6. At that point, I definitely eased up a bit, but it still wasn’t by a whole lot. When I hit mile 7, though, and my Nike+ Running app told me my elapsed time was 1:02 and change, I realized that I had a legitimate shot to beat my 2014 time by a decent margin (considering my usual 5K time these days is around 28 minutes)…so I picked it up again and just kept going to the finish line.

So, in pretty bad weather, I had a pretty good run. And even better was the fact that I was raising money for the American Cancer Society, but I’m actually still a bit short of my goal. Fortunately, there’s still some time for you to help by making a donation here: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/bkelleyBSR2016

Now, though, I feel the need to discuss some of the bad (non-weather-related) parts of the day.

I know the Broad Street Run — with 40,000 runners — is a daunting event to pull off for the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the race organizer. But there are logistical issues that certainly need to be addressed.

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Taken with my wet phone through a wet, transparent armband at the starting area. Don’t know which was more of a mess…the weather, the organization near the starting area or my photography (OK, that last one is usually always a mess).

The biggest issue is egress at key locations. They need to assign volunteers to areas where access in and out is crucial. Near the starting corrals, there is a walled schoolyard with just two access points (that I know of) — one off of Broad Street and another off Somerville Road near Broad. This is a staging area with porta-potties, water, etc. — where most of the 40,000 runners use the bathroom one last time before a 10-mile race that starts at 8 a.m. (for the elite runners in the field). At 7:45 a.m., I tried to get out of the schoolyard so I could get to my starting corral. Instead, I stood in the same spot for nearly 20 minutes at the gateway leading out to Broad Street. Nobody was moving. Runners and spectators were just standing there and nobody seemed interested in telling people to move so runners could get to the corrals. Finally, around 8:05 a.m., we started squeezing through and I did manage to get to my corral (gray) before its starting time. But those stressful moments didn’t need to happen. Fortunately, this seems to be an easy fix — assign a few, trained race volunteers to those access points so they can control pedestrian traffic flow. By 7:50 a.m., priority must be given to runners trying to get out of the schoolyard so they can reach their respective starting corrals in time.

There are other issues with egress just beyond the finish line at the Navy Yard, too. For instance, if you want to go all out at the end, good luck trying to stop without crashing into a horde of runners who apparently feel it’s a good idea to come to a dead stop about three feet after the stripe. Race staff needs to do a better job of keeping everyone moving through the straightaway beyond the finish line and herding everyone to the turn into the finishers’ area.

Again, I know this race is a challenge to pull off and, for the most part, it’s great. There are just some simple things that can be done to make it even better.

Oh, and one more thing…the Broad Street Run started in 1980. It is 2016. That made this year’s event the 37th running of the Broad Street Run (or 37th annual Broad Street Run). However, the announcer and some media outlets called it the “37th anniversary of the Broad Street Run.” Please look up the word and meaning of “anniversary” because it’s not the same as “annual.” The first anniversary of the Broad Street Run would have been in 1981, making this year the 36th anniversary of the Broad Street Run (or 2016-1980=36). This misunderstanding of the word led to “35th Anniversary” incorrectly making its way onto the 2014 medals, which I wrote about at the time.

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