» UPDATE: Due to the immense popularity of the Fraud Street Run, organizers have decided to make the entire race virtual to avoid large crowds. Participants can run 11 miles anywhere they want on Nov. 28 or Nov. 29 and post photos to #FraudStreetRun.
Much like the Rudy Giuliani news conference that inspired it, the new Philly Fraud Street Run is very unorganized.
“It’s purposely unorganized and hastily put together,” said creator Jeff Lyons. “Giuliani did something very dumb and we’re making it dumber.”
You didn’t really think Philly was just going to stop at memes and T-shirts, did you?
Birthed into creation on Monday — just two days after Giuliani’s baffling news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping went viral — the Fraud Street Run is an “11-ish mile” charity run on Nov. 29 from Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Northeast Philly to the Four Seasons Hotel at the Comcast Center in Center City.
“It’s just celebrating something dumb that happened. Everyone is invited,” Lyons, 51, said. “With this run, we want to make sure we celebrate good things happening in Philly and prove we have the best sense of humor — bar none — of any city in the country.”
Lyons, who’s the assistant director of web development at the College of Liberal and Professional Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is cohosting the race with Chip Chantry, a Philly comedian. The two runners have a podcast called Junk Miles with Chip & Jeff, which started in 2016 with the men interviewing people while they ran around Philly (though the interviews have become stationary as of late).
The idea for the Fraud Street Run came to Lyons during a conversation with running coach Gerard Pescatore.
“I thought it would be fun to run to the Four Seasons Landscaping, and then I thought, ‘You know what would be more fun? If we did it point to point,’" Lyons said.
He put the idea out on Twitter Monday and it took off.
“I’m getting people emailing me asking ‘Can we bike it? Can we Rollerblade it?’ Sure! This is a fraud run. Break the rules!” Lyons, of Wynnewood, said. “The thing I love is that people from out of town are saying, ‘You knew they were going to take it to another level!’ Philly cannot let things go and I love it.”
Lyons batted around a few ideas for the name, like “Eight Seasons Total Landscaping Hotel Run," but Fraud Street Run — a nod to Philly’s beloved 10-mile Broad Street Run — was the clear winner.
This “100% unsanctioned run” has no awards, no aid stations, and no fees, though participants are encouraged to make a $10 donation to Philabundance. All runners are to wear face masks and remain socially distanced throughout the course, Lyons said.
There’s also a virtual option for people who want to run their own 11-mile course on or after Nov. 29 and post photos to the hashtag #FraudStreetRun.
Lyons said costumes are encouraged for the race, “the dumber, the better.”
“I don’t think many people would want to dress up as Rudy, he doesn’t have a good fashion sense,” Lyons said. “But I think we’ll see a couple Grittys and maybe a couple Rockys.”
In the cold winter months ahead, Lyons said he will hold tight to the Four Seasons Total Landscaping story to get him through.
“This will keep me warm and happy, this insane story,” he said. “Whenever I’m feeling down, I’m going to look at the ridiculousness of it.”
But will this be the last crazy story of the year for Philly?
“We have a month and a half left. That’s a long time for Philly crazy,” Lyons said. “That’s the fun part of living in this area. It’s always something.”