This Sunday, just three weeks after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, Philadelphia will hold its annual Broad St. Run. On Tuesday night, more than a dozen members of the Bryn Mawr Running Co. in Manayunk met for an evening workout.
For the members participating in the Broad Street Run, it was their last practice before the 10-mile race. It’s an event they have been training for since January.
Stephanie Shull is running Broad Street this weekend. She was also in Boston supporting her friends and fellow running club members in the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. “It was pretty unbelievable and scary and sad,” said Shull. “There was a lot going on.”
Shull’s friends had already finished the race when the bombs went off. She was stuck in the subway for a while, but nobody close to her was hurt. Still, she said she’s been thinking about it since it happened.
But Shull said she never had second thoughts about participating in the Broad Street Run. “It’s important not to let these stupid, horrible people that want to disrupt our life win,” she said.
Club member Rachel Spoonhower remembered being at work the moment she heard about the bombings. “A bunch of my really close friends were up there, both in this club and I have friends that live up there. Ten names went through my head right away,” she said.
Fortunately, none of her friends were harmed. “We kind of confirmed that everybody was okay pretty quickly amongst a group of us,” said Spoonhower.
Nobody in the club was deterred from the Broad Street Run by the bombings. Spoonhower has been in the race before and she isn’t expecting a repeat of Boston.
“Some coworkers asked me, ‘Are you scared to run, will there be security?’” said Spoonhower. “But I think I feel fine. I feel safe. I know there is increased security and I don’t have any concerns that anything else is going to happen.”
The Philadelphia Police Department along with the mayor’s office has been extremely vocal for past two weeks about plans to make sure everybody feels just as safe as Spoonhower on Sunday.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Mayor Nutter discussed additional security measures for the race. He urged participants not bring any gear they didn’t need in an effort to limit the number of bags in the area. He also encouraged anybody who does need to bring extra equipment to do so in a clear plastic bag to avoid any suspicious parcels in the area on race day.
Attendees will be able to sign up for emergency text messages at www.readynotifypa.org and there will be three evacuation shelters located along the run route at Benjamin Franklin High School, the School for Creative and Performing Arts and South Philadelphia High School.
All this comes on the heels of a press conference last week encouraging all local businesses to register their security cameras at https://safecam.phillypolice.com and the acquisition several $250,000 S4W Sentry mobile security cameras that will be placed at intervals along Broad Street.
Club Member Kevin Kelly likens all this extra security to any other sporting event. “It’s something that we know has to be there,” said Kelly. “There’s always checkpoints and things. You go to Phillies a game or an Eagles game and you go through different checkpoints. We know it’s for the right intentions.”
High School track coach and club member Craig Polakoff said that terrorist attacks like those in Boston often have the opposite of their intended effect.
“I think any event like this has a tendency to bring people together,” said Polakoff. “Once the initial shock is over, people come together and I think it shows a better side of humanity and our society, of people really helping each other out.”
Kelly and the other members at the Bryn Mawr Running Co. Tuesday night stressed the idea of a running community. “The running clubs, especially in Philadelphia, are very social,” said Kelly. ”That’s what keeps me going. I know I’m going to get a workout, but I also know I’m going to be with some of my best friends.”
Spectators will see that sense of community on many of Sunday’s runners, who will be wearing red socks to show solidarity with those affected by the bombings. The demand for the socks has running stores like the Bryn Mawr Running Co. struggling to keep enough on its shelves.
Both spectators and runners are encouraged to wear stickers with the words “From Philly to Boston with Love.” If they can, Philadelphians are also encouraged to make a donation “The One Fund,” which has already raised more $27 million for victims of the bombings and their families.
Donate to The One Fund at https://secure.onefundboston.org/page/contribute/default