Fittingly, running enthusiasts Crystal Burnick and Bob Bacon first met while picking up their bibs the night before a 5K race in North Wales five years ago.
Then, after Bacon experienced heat exhaustion during the race and needed medical treatment afterward, Burnick sent him a text the next day to see how he was doing. "She won me over with that gesture," Bacon said with a laugh.
The now-engaged couple from Skippack were all smiles on Sunday after Burnick won the women's division of the 37th annual Broad Street Run in 57 minutes, 7 seconds. Bacon crossed the finish line in 59:45.
Burnick, 27; Bacon, 28; and 40,000 others endured a steady rain and a puddle-filled course. "Actually, I really enjoyed it," Burnick said of the nasty weather. "It was a lot better than it being superhot."
Many wore a lightweight poncho or trash bag because of the conditions. "Long runs in the rain don't really affect me," said Owen Barrett, 18, a senior at Cherry Hill West. "If anything, I run better when it's like this."
New York's Abebe Mekuria Sihine, 24, won the men's division of the 10-miler with a time of 48:43. "It was no bother," the Ethiopian native said of the persistent morning rain.
Mekuria, with a 4:52 per-mile pace, held off Mathew Kiplagat of White Plains, N.Y., by eight seconds. David Fuentes of Austin, Texas, was third in 49:28.
Burnick's per-mile pace was 5:42. "My coach [Joe Puleo] suggested that I go out conservative in the beginning," she said. "And later on, it helped that I ran with some men, and they allowed me to draft off them."
Among the women, Emily Giannotti of Ephrata, Pa., was second in 57:54. Amanda Scott of Boulder, Colo., came in five seconds later. Philadelphia's Jessica Fragola (58:12) and Claire Hewitt (58:40) took fifth and seventh, respectively.
Burnick, who ran at Methacton High and Slippery Rock, is associate head coach of the Ursinus track and field and cross-country teams. It was her fifth top-10 women's finish at the Broad Street Run.
Burnick and Bacon, both members of the North Wales Running Company, became engaged sixth months ago. Their wedding is scheduled for Nov. 5.
"We always tell people, 'We found love in a local race,' " said Bacon, a graduate of North Penn High and De Sales University who works as an accountant in Conshohocken.
Penn Charter middle-school track and field coach Renee Skelly, 34, a former standout at Pennridge High and North Carolina State, ran side by side with one of her pupils, Sophia Solomon. The 14-year-old's impressive time was 1:11.03.
Of the rain, Skelly, a health and physical education teacher at Penn Charter who was a two-time all-American in college, said: "Once you're in the zone of racing, you don't feel it at all. It's just afterwards that you're chilled."
Although he experienced intense shivering after his second appearance in the Broad Street Run, Berwyn's Richard Murphy, 81, plans to be back. "I hope so, if I'm still on this side of the grass," he joked.