Without a doubt, the Blue Cross Broad Street Run has become the most in-demand of all Philadelphia races. And while many of the 40,000 runners are seasoned veterans, a large percentage of the participants are making the ten mile venture for the first time. Below you’ll find a few of my best tips in the order that you’ll need them. Some may seem silly, and others downright obvious, but on race day nothing ever ends up being as simple as you’d expect.
(1) If you plan on taking the train to the start, get to the stadiums extra early. In the early 2000’s, when numbers topped out around 12,000 runners, I76 and I95 experienced gridlock around the stadium and Septa trains filled fast. With 40,000 entrants, the situation only continues to get worse. Get there early and use the extra time to relax and stretch at the start.
(2) And once you make it to the trains make sure you get on an Express Line. While most of the trains on race day are expresses, there are still a few local lines running, which stop at EVERY single stop. Take one of these by accident and you’ll very likely miss the start of the race.
(3) If you think you’ll need the bathroom, get in line right away (and bring extra toilet paper of your own). Broad Street organizers do a tremendous job with a field full of port-o-johns, but lines get long quickly and the TP supply is not endless.
(4) Find your gear bus early and strip down with time to spare. Gear busses used to just line Broad Street... now with 40,000 entrants they have to get more creative. Make sure your bag is clearly marked with your race number & leave time to weave in and out of the crowds.
(5) Avoid doing any “pre-race” warmup exercises with celebrity announcers. Honestly, I’m not sure they still do this, but in years past local radio personalities offered pre-race warmups that resembled a full blown aerobics class. Remember, it’s a 10 mile race so warm up easy and wait for the starting gun to get the real workout on.
(6) Don’t go out too hard. It may sound like common sense, but many a Broad Street runner has allowed the downhill start to take them out well ahead of their expected pace. Remember, downhills can tire you out just as much as flats and uphills.
(7) Hydrate on the course. Even if you don’t take water during a ten mile training run, it’s good to take it during a race. With the increased pace and effort, the odds of dehydration (especially on a hot day) go up exponentially.
(8) If you want to dump it over your head, make sure it isn’t Gatorade. This one comes from personal experience. The volunteers will yell out instructions on which cups are which, so make sure you’re listening, otherwise it may be a sticky ten miles.
(9) The entrance to the Navy Yard is not the finish line. A giant arch across the street may lead you to think you’ve reached the end of the race, but the actual finish line is 400 meters beyond the entrance, so time that finishing kick well. If you forget this though, don’t worry... even the eventual winner has stopped there more than once.
(10) And lastly, If you need new shoes get them NOW! Don’t panic, it happens to more people than you think but you want to give yourself a minimum of a few days to test the new pair out. If possible, replace your shoes with the exact same model you've been using. If that model has been updated or discontinued, make sure you can get a few runs in with whatever you pick just to make sure there aren’t any odd irritation points that could cause a blister a few miles in.