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The first Broad Street Run

Nearly 40 years ago on an 80ºF Sunday, the first group of Broad Street runners took off for a 10 mile run. The entry fee was $2. 

The Philadelphia Daily News was a sponsor of the event. Coverage from the period suggests that the newsroom actually plotted the course, and was responsible for making the race attractive to more than elite runners. The people’s runners! The tabloid also gave out frisbees at the finish line.

That year Recreation Commissioner Robert Crawford said he expected the run could eventually attract 10,000 people. This year, nearly 40,000 people will run the race!

Daily News article from May 29, 1980, the day before the first race. Note how JFK Stadium was incorporated into the end of the race, a practice that would persist until the stadium was demolished.

High temperatures kept the actual turnout slightly lower than anticipated. Pepsi supplied Dr. Pepper for the finish line. Winners received ceramic mugs. 

In 1980 Jan Yerkes was the fastest woman at 63:45 and Mike Bradley was the fastest person at 52:07. Last year Askale Merachi, 30, of Ethiopia, finished at 53:49 and Dominic Korir, 23, of Kenya, won with a finish time of 47:38.

The 39th Broad Street Run will begin momentarily. Good luck runners! I’ll be watching.

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