All Along Broad Street: Volunteers

3 May

At Wachovia Spectrum: people directing traffic. SEPTA: express trains. Mile 2.1: Gatorade. Mile 4: Water. Traffic light: Philly cop keeping cars at bay. Mile 6.5: EMT caring for a runner on a stretcher.  Mile 8: Cheery and cheering woman handing out more Gatorade. All along route: bands, gospel singers, drummers. Finish line: kids with bottles of water.

It wasn’t until I hit the 6 mile marker of the Broad Street Run this morning that I began to consider what it takes to organize a race of 26,500 runners.  As the web site says: hundreds of volunteers.

I know that we don’t say it as we run past, but we runners really appreciate the people who spend a day – or months – doing the tasks that make the run possible.

It may seem a simple thing, to fill cups with water and offer them to passing runners.  I know from my own experience that I never really see the outstretched arm or the smiling face. I’m just focused on the cup. Get. Cup. Drink. Run.

So, I’m sure that while volunteers may sense that their work is appreciated, they may not know how much. Let me tell you: I may not look beyond the cup, but I do see you, and I’m extremely glad you’re there.

This was my first time at the Broad Street Run, and I really enjoyed it. It’s one of the best organized races I’ve been to. Everything was simple, despite the rain and a field of more than 23K.  It was a breeze to register and pick up our packets on the day before the race. I thought parking and getting to the start line would be a nightmare with so many people. It wasn’t. Frequent, free express SEPTA trains made it easier. The corral system worked because runners were started in waves, which avoided the bunching up of the field at the start. There were plenty of water stops. And everyone working along the route supported the runners with great enthusiasm.

This is what makes the race fun – but it’s also what makes it possible. Thank you, Broad Street Run volunteers, for sharing your city with us and helping to make this a successful run.


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