Broad Street Runs


I finished the Broad Street Run.  If you are not a fan of the gross and disgusting… consider that your review, and go.  Go NOW, while you still can.  For those fans of all that is disgusting and uncomfortable, by all means, read on.

So yes, I finished the 2012 Broad Street Run, but only because it didn’t finish me.  It came down to me, or this race and even though I had a terrible day, I would not relent.  The BSR, for me, starts at 5:30 AM on a Sunday morning in South Jersey that I’d rather be asleep.  A sleepy drive over to the stadium area got me to the race in PLENTY OF TIME.  But here’s where my terrible decisions started.

The first thing you do at the BSR is get to the start.  How you get to the Olney is up to you.  I opted for the free Septa Train.  Leaving from the stadium area all morning, these trains were mostly express trains, free of charge for all the Broad Street Runners.  I stood in line for a train with PLENTY of time, btw.  Fifteen minutes later, I got to the front of the train line and it was train time.  Only I was actually in the BACK of the front.  I got on the train, but got to stand… not seated.  Why I didn’t just wait for the next one is beyond me.


So as this full express train pulled out and got to stops along the Broad Street Line… it began stopping?!  And at EVERY stop, people jammed in and jammed in.  My standing room only at Broad, became claustrophobia by Walnut and full on panic attack sweating, convinced there was no oxygen a few stops later and on til the last stop.   (Sorry, I don’t know too many stops north of Walnut…does anyone?!).  These awful feelings were compounded by the fact that I was wearing a “disposable sweatsuit.”  I did not want to carry or stash and retrieve anything during the race, so I was wearing what I believe was referred to as a “track suit” back when people wore these garments at the turn of the century.  Think IZZY MENDELBAUM from Seinfeld.  All the runners with there latest gear gave me some interesting looks to say the least in my get-up!  My get-up that probably made it 30 degrees HOTTER for me… So , there I was, sweating, panicking, bouncing all over the train with only my sweaty hand on the hand rail to keep my balance.  Next year…WAIT FOR THE NEXT FUCKING TRAIN!!!!

When I arrived at the race start in Olney, in PLENTY of time, the resulting bouncing, sweating and panicking on the train left me in pretty dire need of a bathroom.  “Bathrooms” on race day are porta-pottys, not my fave, but they do the trick and how bad could they POSSIBLY be, given they have only been there a very short time, specifically for the race.  So I followed the crowd to the place where the line for these started and began what would be about a 35 minute wait.  When it was my turn, I opened the door to a bathroom that was clearly one of Dante’s Circles of Hell… Suddenly, I didn’t have to go anymore.  It was a Broad Street Run Miracle!

Next up at the BSR is being “corralled.” Based on the info you filled out, your start time is stunted to allow for a better flow of runners.  The 5 minute pacers go first, then 6, then 7, 8, 9, etc.   The result?  I probably didn’t GET to the start of the race for a good while and those clocks along the way that distance runners live for, meant absolutely nothing to me…  My first mile said 30 some odd minutes and I am pretty sure I went faster than that!

Still, after was pretty cool.  Lots of people cheering you on, although the Northern part of the route, some of them looked like they were guarding their property from runners more than cheering.  And rightfully so, I saw a bunch of runners behaving badly.  Lots of people urinating wherever and just throwing trash wherever, even in the route.  Other runners did my “disposable” clothes idea and they just would drop them wherever, even in the race. Not cool, people fall on your Benneton sweatshirt you wore just so you could throw away– throw it in the TRASH where it belonged 25 years ago!

By mile 2, all that was pretty much done though and miles 3 through 6 for me where just awesome.  I felt like I could run all day.  Not a care in the world… until nature took me off hold and the call came through… LOUDLY.

Stopping during a race is something I never did.  Never even considered. Now granted I do 5ks and 10ks mostly, but usually once you start, you just finish.   Yet all through mile 6, I eyed up the bathroom situation.  I had tucked a 20 in my gear and I was looking for that open business that I could run into and be like—“I’ll have a Taco Supreme and your finest men’s room!”  Only most of those type places were closed, probably for that reason.  I was on a collision course with the temporary bathrooms set up along the route.  I eyed them keenly as I ran, gauging both the number and how crowded they were, still trying to put it off as long as possible, maybe even finish!

But alas, it was not to be.  At around 7, the free pass my body gave me for the first part of the day was no more.  I ran, (well I was already running?!) to the nearest bathroom line that was barely moving and got in it.  I am not an overly religious person, but it was while waiting in that line, I began to pray…PLEASE LORD, let me make it through this line.

Another Broad Street Miracle!  I made it!  Only to find a bathroom situation much, much worse than the one I balked at earlier in the race day.  Think Trainspotting…

I took a deep metaphoric breath, as real breathing was not possible in this particular stall.  I calmly but over emphatically locked the door, over and again.  I wasn’t EXACTLY sure what was going to happen in there, but I was pretty sure I was hatching some MacGuyver type ingenuity that, Win, Lose, or Draw… I did NOT want the door flying open and some dipshit putting it on YouTube!  As I eyed the materials I had to work with, I was lifted, literally as you will soon see, by the tower of spare toilet paper rolls in the back of the unit.  There had to be a dozen… which was AWESOME, as by the quick calculations in my head, I was going to use about 9!  I carefully festooned the rolls, three on either side and three in the back of the toilet, creating the ability to hover a good three clean inches above the Armageddon below.  Sure it was still hot, smelled gross and I was sweating 6 miles worth…but still, I had what clerics call a gastrointestinal moment of clarity… all was right with the world.   I was finally able to go, really go, and get back to the race!

The detour and the stopping helped my stomach, but not my pace or even my stride.  The last 3 miles were very labored and it was only adrenaline that got me through.  (Granted, I would have been tired either way after 7, but the stop I think was particularly detrimental.)  As I finished, I put in every last effort I had to get to the end… I was not pleased with my time, but glad it was over.

…only to find out, I’d need a LOT more energy just to get out of the BSR complex at the Navy Yard and walk back to my car.  (Thanks for nothing Wells Fargo for locking your parking lots to foot traffic.)  So, after I ran the 10, it was another few miles walk back to the car where I could hit all the traffic drive home, cramp up, etc.

All in all I am glad I can say I did the Broad Street Run.  I am going to do another 10 miler soon, only, this time I will do it with 400 to 4,000… not 40,000.  ALL that said, I will probably do the BSR again next year, but my action plan will be way, way different.



2 thoughts on “Broad Street Runs

  1. hahahahahahah!!! We’ll hold your hand next year. ps i had a terrible claustrophobic attack too and i was sitting. eric talked me through it. i too was on a local train — not everyone is going to BSR that day — but some moron commented/lamented at EVERY stop. yeesh . enough already. there were yellow buses presumably driving to the start. i’m doing that next year. i parked south of the stadiums on the street near a fellow runner’s house after party . we refueled with food and beer and drove happily home, no crowds.

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