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Fraud Street Run returns for a second year, maybe its last

Organizers say the race has drawn a fraction of last year’s participants. That’s fine by them.

Participants pose for photos at the start of the Fraud Street Run outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping on Nov. 29, 2020. The run finished at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Participants pose for photos at the start of the Fraud Street Run outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping on Nov. 29, 2020. The run finished at the Four Seasons Hotel.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

The 11-mile race commemorating the time Rudy Giuliani inadvertently propelled Northeast Philadelphia’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping into popular culture is back for a second, and perhaps final, year.

“It’s like a lot of things in Philly, it’s fun for a while,” said Jeff Lyons, who came up with the Fraud Street Run — a nod to the city’s famous Broad Street Run — with friend and fellow runner Chip Chantry.

The duo spread the word last year through their Junk Miles podcast and social media, drawing more than 2,100 participants from as far as Germany and England for the virtual race. The run raised more than $56,000 for Philabundance, a food relief organization.

Lyons attributes the race’s success to the fact he and Chantry didn’t get “bogged down on the political nature” of Guiliani’s news conference and gave people a way to help others during the pandemic.

“Something crazy happened in Philly and we jumped on that and said, ‘Let’s turn something really weird and do something good for Philabundance,’” explained Lyons, adding it helped that the race took place in peak running season.

This year, Chantry and Lyons are bringing back the “100% unsanctioned fun run” by popular demand, though the Saturday, Nov. 6, race is already shaping up to be a smaller affair.

The rules are the same as last year: There are no rules.

Participants are asked to donate at least $11 to Philabundance so they can run from the Four Seasons Hotel in Center City to Four Seasons Total Landscaping to complete an 11-mile course. Runners can also choose to not complete the full distance, claim they did, and argue some sort of nefarious conspiracy is afoot, as some did last year.

For those not in Philadelphia, the spirit can be replicated by incorporating any “Four Seasons”- named business to their own course.

So far, more than 200 people have signed up for the 2021 race, raising more than $4,100 for Philabundance.

While Lyons said the no-frills nature of the fun run made it easy to put together a second year, he and Chantry are not ones to overdo a joke. They might put the race to bed if demand for the Fraud Street Run wanes more.

In the past year, Four Seasons Total Landscaping has remained in the city’s collective consciousness by hosting live music, with another show slated for November, and becoming the subject of a documentary. But Lyons suspects interest in the Fraud Street Run will go the way of the T-shirts and memes that flooded the internet after Guiliani’s presser. People will simply move on to the next thing.

The run is again virtual, so people across the world can still take part, and Philadelphia locals are welcome to meet in front of the Four Seasons Hotel at 8 a.m. on race day if they want to do the socially distanced run with Lyons and a small group.

Lyons said he and Chantry are willing to keep the run going, if that’s what people want; otherwise, it was fun while it lasted.

“We did what we could,” said Lyons.