To put it in racing language, let’s get one thing straight right out of the gate: Without a COVID-19 vaccination requirement, there would be no Broad Street Run this Sunday.
As was the case with the Philadelphia Distance Run and the Philadelphia 10K, event organizers had to comply with the city’s health regulations.
And when you have 20,000 people jammed tightly together at the starting line across the street from Philly’s Central High School, that’s probably a good time to play it safe.
While the proof of vaccination protocol might affect the size of the field, most runners agree making sure everyone is safe is the right thing to do.
Langhorne’s Jim Larson, who recently completed the PDR, believes the Broad Street officials have everyone’s best interests in mind.
“I think it’s a great idea that you have to be vaccinated,’’ Larson said. “It’s very crowded at the start and throughout the race. You’re near a lot of people at the finish. I think it might cut the field down by a quarter or a third. I’m going to guess around 20,000 will be there. But that’s fine.’’
Levittown’s Joe Boyce is a health care worker so no one has to convince him this is a prudent approach.
“I support the vaccine requirement,’’ he said. “Especially with a race as big as Broad Street. It’s good to be on the side of caution and safety.’’
After no live race in 2020 due to the pandemic, it was great news in July to learn Broad Street would be coming back in the fall.
“It’s a great event,’’ said Larson, a Langhorne resident. “A lot of local people go. It’s great to have it back. I think they’re doing everything they can (to keep conditions safe).’’
Boyce is glad to have Broad Street back after it was reduced to a virtual race in 2020. There’s still a virtual option for those who can’t (or won’t) go live this year.
“I ran PDR and it was great just to run through the city again,’’ Boyce said. “There’s nothing quite like Broad Street. It’s straight and as far as you can see there’s a river of runners. And if you were to turn around, there’s a river of runners behind you. It’s just an amazing thing to run through the center of town. Broad Street is the quintessential Philadelphia race.’’
Broad Street is usually run in May so this race might look a little different, with tree leaves changing colors rather than just sprouting out of branches. But the feeling will be the same. Next year it’s likely the race will go back to its first Sunday in May traditional date.
“It’s one of the premier 10-mile races in the United States (and the largest),’’ Boyce pointed out.
The Bucks County Roadrunners usually bus a bunch of their members to the starting line and this year is no exception. There is a mask requirement on the bus.
One small change on the Broad Street course: For years, runners have been reaching the finish line at the Philadelphia Navy Yard at the end of Broad Street. But because the Navy Yard is under construction this year, runners will cross the line near the NovaCare Complex where the Eagles train. The course will take a slight detour near City Hall to make up for the mileage differential.
Larson has run Broad Street 11 times with an all-time best of 1:09. Boyce has run the race approximately 15 times with a best of 1:05.
>Ezzo’s amazing streak continues
Well, tens of thousands of runners have completed the Philadelphia Distance Run since its inception in 1978. Over the years, the number of runners who started in the first one and continued a streak had dwindled from 100 to 50 to 25 and now it’s down to four.
One of those four is Richboro’s Mary-Pat Ezzo, who kept her streak alive this year by doing a 13.1-mile virtual run through Tyler State Park. She gets a finisher medal and everything else to make it official.
“I did keep the streak alive for Bucks County and finished the PDR two weeks ago for No. 44,’’ Ezzo wrote in an email. “I chose to do it virtually in Tyler because all of my running friends don’t run anymore and I didn’t want to make the trip by myself. I never know if it will be a good day or bad day and I don’t like to navigate getting home on bad days on my own. I chose hilly and steep as opposed to flat and fast. My time was not glorious but I finished.’’
Ezzo, a veterinarian, had several running friends go with her over the last four miles to lend support.
“I am grateful for friends to support me so I am not complaining,’’she pointed out. “There are only four originals left – two women and two men. So on to No. 45. The pressure is off for another nine months.’’
Broad Street Run 10-Miler, 8 a.m., Philadelphia. Contact www.broadstreetrun.com
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