When Jeff Lyons came up with the idea for the Fraud Street Run — an “11-ish” charity race inspired by Rudy Giuliani’s bizarre news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Northeast Philly last weekend — he thought maybe 10 people would show up and he’d raise a few hundred dollars.
But by Thursday, just three days after Lyons, 51, of Wynnewood, put the idea out on social media, more than $19,000 in donations had poured in to Philabundance through the Fraud Street Run website and hundreds of people had signed up to participate.
Given the rise in COVID-19 cases and the immense and unexpected popularity of the race, Lyons and his race cohost Chip Chantry (with whom he hosts the Junk Miles with Chip and Jeff podcast), decided to make the run entirely virtual, to avoid large groups of people running together through the city.
Now, participants can run either on Nov. 28 or Nov. 29 at the time of their choosing. They can either run the 11-ish mile course Lyons outlined on the run’s website from Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Northeast Philly to the Four Seasons Hotel in Center City; run the route in reverse; or run an 11-mile course of their choosing anywhere in the world, from Delco to Denmark.
“I think it’s turning into a positive that we went fully virtual,” Lyons said. “A lot of people wanted to run it but they were nowhere near Philly. Going all-virtual it encompasses more of a national feel.”
All participants are encouraged to wear costumes and post a photo of themselves at the end of their run using the hashtag #FraudStreetRun.
T-shirts for the race went on sale Wednesday and by Thursday, 950 had already been sold. All proceeds from the sale of the shirts will be donated to Philabundance as well, Lyons said.
“The beauty of the race is to be involved and run where you can, when you can, and be a part of the community spirit behind it,” Lyons said. “It’s not what I originally intended, but we don’t care. We’re about being very unorganized.”