Crossing the finish line during a rainy 2016 Blue Cross Broad Street Run.
As a six-time Blue Cross Broad Street Run (BCSBR) finisher, I’m excited to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the race. Although I run races of various distances, including half marathons and marathons, the BCBSR is easily my favorite race of the year. No other race represents the energy and passion of a city quite like the BCBSR.
The Health and Wellness Expo
The 2019 Blue Cross Broad Street Run experience kicks off with the Health and Wellness Expo that runs from May 3 (11 a.m. – 7 p.m.) to May 4 (9 a.m. – 6 p.m.) at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Hall F (enter at 12th and Arch streets).
I always love the Expo because I almost always walk out of there with something useful that I didn’t even know I needed. For example, one year at the Expo I purchased some hydration tablets that I dropped into my water the day and night before the race. These made a noticeable difference in my hydration on race day.
While the primary purpose of the BCBSR Expo is for runners to pick up their bibs, IPICO timing devices, T-shirts, and race information guides, it offers so much more than that. The Expo features more than 80 vendors offering running gear and accessories like energy gels, stretching tools, sneaker inserts for more comfort, and more.
Highlights of the 2019 Blue Cross Broad Street Run Health and Wellness Expo
While the 2019 Expo includes all the usual vendors and offerings, there are some highlights especially for the race’s 40th anniversary:
- Stop by the the Independence Blue Cross booth for some great photo opportunities. This year, I’m excited for the professional graffiti artist who will be creating unique backdrops that are perfect for all your social media posts. Make sure to use #FearlessFit when posting your photos to social media and check out our Snapchat filters at the Expo and the run. You may just score yourself some giveaways and cool prizes!
- Hear from health and wellness experts during the Blue Cross Broad Street Run Speaker Series, presented by Einstein Healthcare Network.
- Donate your used shoes to Back on My Feet Philadelphia.
- Visit the BCBSR official merchandise store for hats, tanks, sweatshirts, and an official BCBSR cow bell.
- Look for appearances from Philly’s favorite sport mascots, the Philadelphia Mummers, and other iconic Philly natives.
After the Expo, make sure to stop by Reading Terminal Market for a bite. My personal favorite spots are DiNic’s for a roast pork sandwich or Hershel’s for a classic pastrami reuben. Don’t worry, you’ll burn it off on race day. (Consider it part of your pre-race carb loading!)
Start Your Race Day Off on the Right Foot
On the morning of the BCBSR, I start out with a light breakfast, usually wheat toast with peanut butter and banana. I always get to the starting line about an hour before the race starts to ensure I don’t run into any transportation issues. There isn’t any parking at the starting line, but you can park at the stadiums near the finish line and then take SEPTA’s Broad Street Line to the starting line, free of charge with your race bib. While I’m waiting for my corral to start, I squeeze in a quick 15 to 20-minute stretch to warm up. Then, before I know it, we’re off!
Take it All In
Not to sound cliché, but enjoy every minute of the race! The BCBSR is the largest ten-mile race in the country, and the energy and overall atmosphere is unlike any other race. No matter the weather, the streets are lined with fans cheering you on every step of the way. There are costumes, music, and funny/inspirational posters. The entertainment and encouragement really help you along the way. Some of the runners even join in, sporting humorous costumes or shirts with funny sayings. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some of the best ones. One year, I ran alongside someone in a Phillie Phanatic costume.
Before you know it, you’ll see the sign for the Navy Yard and realize you’re almost there! (About a quarter of a mile from the finish line, to be exact.) If you’ve run the BCBSR before, you know how emotional the end of the race can be. If this is your first time running, crossing that finish line is going to feel amazing. Be sure to take it all in.
Soak up your accomplishment at the finish line! The energy at the Navy Yard is one of pride and celebration, with everyone congratulating each other. But the fun shouldn’t stop there! There is so much to do in the city after the run. My family, friends, and I always go to Xfinity Live after the race to celebrate, but there are also many places in South Philly to have brunch. This year, there will also be an official after-party for runners at FDR Park in South Philly.
Also, five out of the six times I’ve run the BCBSR, there’s been a Phillies home game in the afternoon, so my family, friends, and I always head over to Citizen Bank Park to tailgate after we leave Xfinity Live. This year, runners will luck out with two home games the day of the BCBSR. The Phillies will play the Washington Nationals at 2:05 p.m. and the 76ers will face off against Toronto in the conference semifinals at 3:30 p.m. I’m keeping my “high hopes” up for a pair of wins!
Don’t forget to take advantage of the runner perks and discounts that many places offer after the race. Philly loves BCBSR runners!
Cheers to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation for keeping this Philadelphia tradition alive for 40 years. 2019 will certainly be a special year to take part in the largest ten-mile race in the country.