Eric Chirchir's goal for Sunday's Broad Street Run doesn't involve a time, just a place.
"I need to run to win," Chirchir said Friday over the phone.
This is no idle thought. Chirchir missed victory on Broad Street by eight seconds last year, but the native of Kenya, now living in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., has a slew of first-place trophies for races at all sorts of distances.
"It's a nice course, well defined," Chirchir said of Broad Street. "You're not getting tired when you run."
Remember, the 40,000 runners filling Broad Street will be behind Chirchir. He and the other top contenders get the clear path from Fisher Avenue down to the Navy Yard.
"I was happy about it," Chirchir said of last year's finish. "I'd never run a 10-miler. I enjoyed that distance."
He has set records at several topflight 10-kilometer races and has run a 2:14 marathon, so 10 miles is certainly in his sweet spot. On the race questionnaire, Chirchir listed as his goal, "To run a sub 2:08 marathon!" (At the 2012 Olympics, the winning marathon time was 2:08:01. The world record is 2:03:23. Chirchir's best time is 2:14).
To accomplish that feat, Chirchir said he plans to return to Kenya at the end of this year to train full-time. Being here the last couple of years has worked for the 30-year-old, but home in the Rift Valley Province, birthplace of so many great distance runners, still offers something special.
"Most of the people who perform well in marathons are training back home," Chirchir said. "We have a lot of guys over there."
That running culture in Kenya is time-tested.
"We don't do any other jobs, we just focus on running, that's it," Chirchir said. "Concentrating on training - that's why we perform well."
Chirchir lists Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie as an early inspiration. But what really got him started in competitive running, Chirchir said, were his friends.
" 'You can do it. You can do better,' " they told him. "I got motivation from them. I just started training."
By that, he meant training to win.
What: The 35th annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run, 10 miles.
Where: Starts at North Broad Street and West Fisher Avenue and finishes a quarter-mile inside the gate at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on South Broad Street.
When: Starts at 8:30 a.m. Runners will be on the course for several hours.
Weather: The forecast calls for partly sunny skies all morning, with the temperature rising from 56 degrees at the start to 63 by noon. A west-southwest wind between 13 and 20 m.p.h. is expected.
Things to do: Watch some of the 40,000 runners from vantage points at Temple University, Broad and Spring Garden Streets, Vine Street, City Hall, South Broad Street, and the Navy Yard.