What it’s like to do the Philadelphia Broad Street Run

Getting up at 5:30AM on a Sunday and forcing my body to run 10 grueling miles on Philadelphia’s most famous street doesn’t seem like a good idea, and yet, over 32,000 people including myself did that last weekend. What is it about the IBX Philadelphia Broad Street Run that makes it the most popular 10 miler in the country and Philadelphia’s most sought after race ticket? Here’s my experience.

I consider myself a runner, but a very casual one. My frequency fluctuates throughout the year and I usually do 3 or 4 5K races per year. I’ve never considered doing a marathon or a half. 10 miles seems more doable.

I got up at 5:30AM and made my way to the Collingswood PATCO station by 6:15AM where I caught the train with about a dozen others. Once we transferred to the Broad Street Line we were packed in so tight you have to talk to the people around you to prevent it from being awkward.

Broad Street Line was packed with runners

While on the subway I met some people from Audubon, NJ, where I lived for 5 years. While dominated by Philadelphians, NJ’ers make up about 20-25% of the Broad Street Runners.

She was proud to show off the best possible race number

It’s hard to describe the feeling of riding along in a train, covering approximately half the distance of your upcoming race. Even the train ride feels long. Knowing you’ll have to run twice that far in a couple hours is intimidating.

The runners get off on the Olney Ave stop and join the thousands waiting to start the race. In the pre-race information they state there are 350 portable toilets available at the start which makes the potty to runner ratio around 90:1. If you even think you might have to go, get in line right away.

Runners getting ready to start.

There are so many people around, you’re bound to run into a few you know. I spotted @k8iedid mostly because she had her twitter handle on her t-shirt.

As each group (corral) of runners start, your stomach starts churning. Did you eat enough? Too much? Are your ankles going to hold up? I made the decision a few weeks prior to the race to wear my old running shoes since my new ones were giving me some weird pain after 3 or 4 miles. I didn’t want to find out on mile 6 how bad it would get. On long runs like this I also usually bring some leftover easter candy with me for some extra fuel, but I forgot. Oh well.

Start! Not having run enough recently I nervous about being able to finish the race. I took the start pretty slow and it showed. I must have been passed 1000 times in the first minute. It wasn’t until about mile 3 until things started to even out.

The best thing about the course route is that it’s one way. You start farther north in Philadelphia than I had ever previously been and finish about 500 yards before you’d have to jump in the Delaware. You can barely see Center City from the start or the finish. Psychologically this messes with your mind as City Hall slowly creeps into view, but it also feels badass once you finish.

The Broad Street Run seems to attract all sorts of people who run in crazy costumes, so here’s a rundown of the best ones I saw.

This guy in a Terminex shirt ran with a butterfly net the whole time
This girl thought dribbling a basketball for 10 miles was a good idea
This guy made me hungry during the race.
This optimistic Flyers fan carried an inflatable Stanley Cup during the race. Photo by Vincent J. Brown.

See more of Vincent’s great Broad Street photos here.

Lots of girls in tutus

I haven’t mentioned the weather yet, but it couldn’t have been better. Slightly cool at the start and never too hot the entire race.

Drum bands and choirs lined the streets as we ran by Temple University. Every time I ran by a cheering group of people or a band set up to entertain runners I felt my energy level go up, even if just for a 30 seconds. The amount of people out on the streets cheering is kind of astonishing, especially as you get closer to City Hall.

City Hall at last! This is about the halfway point.

A little over halfway through you finally reach the landmark you’ve been staring at for the last 45 minutes or so, William Penn on top of City Hall. Here you encounter the only turn in the whole race as you follow the road counter clockwise around to the other side. Here’s where the crowd really starts to get big and look for Ed Rendell hanging out on the right over the next quarter mile. He’s been there both years I ran.

After you pass South Street and Center City starts to fade away, you enter the final third of the race where you start to question what the hell you’re doing. Miles 6-8 are just awful, awful, miles and the volunteers who hang out all day just to hand out water to the slow pokes like me are awesome. Why someone would care enough to give out water, but not run, is crazy to me but thankfully there were hundreds of crazy people who did it. This year there also seemed to be way more people cheering in South Philly and it made these miles a little more bearable.

Lots of people cheering the runners on this year.
Some people got really into it

Miles 6-8 are tough, but 8-10 is hell. I was so hungry and tired at this point the only thing keeping me going was the bag of snacks I was about to get at the finish.

Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, I am not.
The Navy Yard is coming up

Soon after you start mile 9 you get a glimpse of the Navy yard gates. This is not the finish! It looks like the end but you have at least another 1/4 mile to go. It narrows down tight and there isn’t much room. Around here is when one of my shoelaces came untied and there was nowhere to stop and tie them.

At last!!!

And finally the finish. At this point, most of us are too tired to even manage a high five. We walk over, get a medal, a soft pretzel, a bag of random Philadelphia snacks, and some kind of sense of accomplishment and community that can only be had by running 10 miles with 30,000 strangers.

Beercamp Philly 2011 Recap

Yesterday I sampled beers with names like Chocrilla, Blood Orange Berliner, and the Bee Sting Ale along with the spiciest shrimp I have ever eaten. I poured my own homebrewed Amber Ale called Yakima Sax to a few hundred beer geeks and watched the legend of Beercamp Philly Camp grow.

Beer Camp is Back
Beer Camp is Back

The first Philly Beercamp was the most fun I ever had as a homebrewer, so when they announced a 2nd one during Philly Beer Week, I signed up right away.

The weather was amazing all day (we spent the morning selling our crap at the town wide Collingswood yard sale) and perfect for outdoor drinking. Getting all my equipment to the event was a little bit of a challenge. I dropped off the keg, CO2 tank, and some other beer brewing related stuff to educate others on homebrewing and then drove over to the hotel in Philly I booked on points. While I was there, Jeanne texted me and said she felt a few rain drops so I lugged two packed up party tents with me in the cab back to the “camp site,” the Jamaican Jerk Hut on South Street. I didn’t need the tents in the end since it didn’t rain. We lucked out big time with the weather.

The crowd sampling beers and Jamaican food
The crowd sampling beers and Jamaican food

Pics by Marusula. See the rest of the gallery.

Another one of my favorite pics.

Once the event got going I iced my beer down and went to hook it up, only to find I was missing the tap connector for my keg! Disastrous!!! Having to go back home to get this would have easily taken me 30 – 60 minutes. Luckily, a fellow brewer saved the day and had a spare. I declared him my new best friend and started pouring.

Everyone came away with a free pint glass
Everyone came away with a free pint glass

The beers I tried were fantastic, but what was even more fun was just meeting and interacting with beer geeks from all over the Philadelphia area. One fellow brewer stopped by and declared to my wife that the best thing about Papazian’s Joy of Homebrewing I had on display was “the chick” in the HOWTO pictures of the first few chapters. Another guy stopped by and gave me some tips on getting rid of some after tastes I occasionally find in my beer. I was also thrilled to meet up with many, many people I have only talked to on twitter.

Here’s a list of all the beers and the ones I voted for in bold.
Brunch Stout
Transcontinental – California Common
American Pale Ale
Baltic Porter
Bee Sting Ale
Cherry Wheat
Wobbly Bass Brown
Mmmm Creamy Milk Stout
Blood Orange Berliner
Ryeghteous Brown Ale
Redcoat ESB
Redcoat Stout
Golden Pale Ale
Northwestern Pale Ale
American Porter
Yakima Sax (Amber)

The winners were:
1st B WeeRd Brew D – Chorilla
2nd Saint Benjamin – Transcontinental (I didn’t get a chance to try this, but I loved his other beer)
3rd Melloproto – Blood Orange Berliner

The beers and food were great and the plan so far is to have BeerCampPhilly 3 in October 2011, which would be awesome. I’d definitely do it again. Congrats to Kelani, Two Guys on Beer, and Indyhall for putting everything together.

Beer Camp Philly Recap

On Friday I participated in Beer Camp, a homebrewer kickoff to Philly Bar Camp and was hosted by Two Guys on Beer and Indyhall.

My first hand modeling gig
My first hand modeling gig. Photo by Paul Drzal

It was a blast. Congrats to @howdiz and @SymbiotDesign for their award winning brews. Howie brewed a Smoked Maple Porter (which I dubbed the Bacon Beer) and Symbiot’s was a Pumpkin Spice. The beers were paired with ridiculously good sandwiches from Paesano’s by Unbreaded.

I ran out of beer in an hour and twenty minutes pouring 4 oz at a time. 128 oz in a gallon * 4.5 gallon batch / 4 oz sample = about 144 people who were able to try my beer. I think I had a few repeat customers. The highlight of the night for me was when a girl walked up, held out her glass, and said, “I heard you’re the good beer dude.”

I brewed an ApeRicot Ale, of which I’ll post the recipe down below. I was totally happy with how it came out. Getting feedback from the crowd was spotty, since they were all afraid we’d be offended. Next time I want a sign or a shirt that says, “It won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t like my beer.”

Paul Drzal
(check out Paul’s site, eskepe.com)
Steve Kradel’s
Courier Post’s

A few videos of the event (you can hear how loud it was).
Kessler’s Video

My twitter list of all BeerCampPhilly related people (let me know if I missed you!):
BeerCampPhilly list

Here are some of my photos:

Is that Billy Mays?
Is that Billy Mays?
One Guy on a Chair
One Guy on a Chair
Steve Kradel is throwing his gang signs
@skradel is throwing his gang signs
@howdiz working the crowd
@howdiz working the crowd
Delicious hops
Delicious hops

Continue reading Beer Camp Philly Recap

Philadelphia and Tampa Bay: A Odd Rivalry

Could the 2008 World Series cement an already budding rivalry between the cities of Philadelphia and Tampa Bay? These places couldn’t be more different, but for some reason their paths have crossed. Granted, the Rays play in St Petersburg and the Buccaneer’s play in Tampa, but we’ll ignore that inconvenient fact.


Philadelphia:? The City of Brotherly Love
Population: 5.8 Million
Latitude and Longitude: 39? 53′ N 75? 15′ W
Claim to Fame: Cheesesteaks, Rocky, original USA capital

Tampa Bay: An Actual Bay, not a City
Population: St Petersburg 248,098, Tampa 382,060
Latitude and Longitude: 27? 58′ N 82? 32′ W
Claim to Fame: Humidity, Phillies Spring training, Your grandparents live there


The Eagles traded up in the 1995 to get Mike Mamula and the Bucs settled for 7 time pro bowler and future Dancing with the Stars star, Warren Sapp.

Sapp and the Bucs faced the Eagles three straight years in the playoffs (2000 – 2002) with the Eagles winning the first two, but the Bucs winning the 2002 NFC championship game and eventually beating Oakland in the Superbowl. Many in Philadelphia consider the 2002 NFC championship game to be the worst of all the recent playoff losses, especially since this was the last game ever played at Veterans Stadium.

If that wasn’t enough, the Bucs and the Eagles played the FIRST WEEK of 2003 and the Eagles lost the first regular season game at Lincoln Financial Field.

It’s not isolated to football though…

In 2004 the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

I think the 2008 World Series could set off a new era of rivalry between the cities.

Update: Look what they’re writing!


Little did many know that the Rays ticket to the World Series was punched as soon as the Phillies won the NLCS. It was fate.

In 2002, after two straight playoff blowouts at the hands of the Eagles, the Bucs finally broke through with a win in Philadelphia in the NFC championship game. The Bucs went on to win their first Super Bowl.

In 2004, the Lightning beat the Flyers in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. The Bolts went on to win their first Stanley Cup championship.

Now, the only thing that stands between the Rays and their first World Series trophy is, of course, the Philadelphia Phillies. Nothing gives a Tampa Bay sports fan more pleasure than helping the City of Brotherly Love keep to their losing ways.

I didn’t even know that the Bucs beat the Eagles in their first ever playoff game.

in?their first-ever playoff appearance,? the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-17.? That was December 29, 1979.

Plus, the Phillies are the only American pro team to LOSE 10,000 games.? They blame it all on some?Curse of William Penn.??No?wonder?the Jan Brady of Northeast Cities has the least happy fans.

Anyway, in both hockey and football, Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia has become quite a fun rivalry.? And now a Tampa Bay team has the opportunity to beat a Philadelphia team in baseball, too.? It all starts Wednesday.

At least we have That One on our side.

Over a week ago, Barack Obama, a diehard White Sox fan, pledged his support in these MLB playoffs to the Phillies. His reasoning was this:

?I think that I?m going to have to root for Philly potentially because my campaign manager is a fanatical Phillies fan and I don?t want him mad at me for the next few weeks.?

It Rained at the Unlimited Sunshine Concert

The Unlimited Sunshine concert rocked last night at the Mann. Modest Mouse, Cake, De La Soul and the Flaming Lips put on a great show and although I liked everyone I think the Flaming Lips impressed me the most. They came out wearing rabbit and frog suits and showed movie clips during their songs. Using their TV appearences the Lips showed Conan O’Brien and Jon Stewart introducing them on their respective shows (Stewart’s being his old MTV show, not his current Comedy Central show, but not his really really old show Short Attention Span Theater that no one remembers anymore).
Cake played really well, too and I liked hearing a few songs from their only album I own, Motorcade of Generosity, even if they didn’t play any of my three favorite songs from that album (Rock and Roll Lifestyle, I Bombed Korea, and Jolene).

The oddest thing about the whole show as how quiet the music was. For the first time in my life I came home from a concert wishing the music had been louder. I had no problem carrying on a conversation with anyone around me. I’m going to see BB King there next week so I’ll see if it’s the standard practice for the Mann.

Who cares if it rained? No one at the Mann enforces seating restrictions.