IT IS AN EVENT that attracts runners from all over the world and a day that Philadelphia treasures. The first Sunday in May has been a special one in Philadelphia since 1980 with the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, but this year will be extra special.
In its 34th year, the Broad Street Run, which is sponsored by Independence Blue Cross, has grown into the largest 10-miler in the country. This year, nearly 40,000 runners are expected to compete, which would surpass the 2012 runner count of 34,068. The winner from that race included Henry Rutto with a time of 47:05, and the female champion was Esther Erb with a time of 55:26.
At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, runners will start from the intersection of Broad Street and Fisher Avenue. From there, the runners will race 10 miles down Philadelphia's busiest street, passing Temple University, City Hall and the sports complex. The race will conclude at Broad and Farragut Avenue, inside the Navy Yard.
This year's race will be looked at differently because of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon on April 15. Sunday will be all about Boston. Mayor Nutter said this week that race organizers will provide colorful stickers to runners and spectators that read: "From Philly, to Boston, With Love." Many runners and groups are expected to show their own tributes to the Boston bombing victims, but one group in particular wants to help both children in Philadelphia and the victims of the Boston tragedy.
"Students Run Philly Style" offers marathon training to Philadelphia's youth and connects them with adult mentors to help them achieve success in life. The program boasts great results with children, including improved high school graduation rates. The goal is to have the program's almost 900 students complete the Philadelphia Marathon in November.
The Broad Street Run is part of the students' training for the marathon, and hundreds are expected to participate Sunday.
"A lot of our kids will be wearing red socks and then some of our teams will be wearing blue-and-yellow ribbons that were made from Team Meredith [cancer fundraiser]," executive director Heather McDanel said. "The families that made those are charging $2 for the ribbons, but they are giving the proceeds to the victims' funds in Boston."
While some students in the organization come from difficult backgrounds, in this case, these students can be the ones giving back. McDanel thinks that is something that can really make them feel great.
"I think it reinforces that they're part of a much larger community," she said. "They're part of this huge movement that has changed their lives significantly, and this gives them a real specific avenue to be active in support."
The Boston bombing has forced Philadelphia to re-evaluate its security on race day. On Wednesday, Nutter announced details of the heightened security for the race.
"As we plan for the Broad Street Run, let me be very clear," Nutter said. "There is no specific threat to the city of Philadelphia."
The mayor said the Boston bombings forced Philadelphia to alter security for the event.
"There will be enhanced security measures to ensure that all our events are safe, secure and successful," he said, adding that spectators will see an "increase of police presence and emergency personnel stationed along the entire race course."
Backpacks, coolers and bags will not be allowed at the finish line. He also provided tips from organizers of the Broad Street Run for runners and spectators. Any runner who checks his or her gear at the race expo at Lincoln Financial Field must put items in clear, plastic bags that will be provided at the expo before the race.