THE FIRST TIME I did the Broad Street Run, I did it with a bottle of Red Stripe in my hand.
I should mention that, by “did,” I mean that I lazily watched from a lawn chair outside the old Daily News building, at Broad and Callowhill, and helpfully shared a swig or two with passing runners.
That was about 20 years ago, when I was more likely to moonwalk – like, on the actual moon – than run 10 miles down Broad. It wasn’t that I was out of shape (I was); it was that running seemed like a needless expenditure of energy that should be otherwise devoted to napping.
On Sunday, however, I plan to lace up my sneakers and give it a go. And I plan to do it with a beer in my hand.
You see, I am not one of those lanky marathoners addicted to running mile after mile, day after day. I run only about three days a week, and usually no more than 3 miles at a time. I still have a bit of a gut.
For me, the race is not some middle-age bucket-list test of physical fitness. I’m confident I’ll finish the course, but I don’t particularly care about my time because I want to experience a Philadelphia signature event – a fun attraction that connects me to my hometown: along the city’s central artery, past North Philly’s barbecue stands, where I often grabbed a late dinner to go; past Temple Hospital, where I was a young test patient for a dental student; past the Blue Horizon, where I watched Matthew Saad Muhammad win in a KO; toward our iconic City Hall, where I still marvel at the architecture.
And onward: the site of the Bijou Cafe, where I had a front-row table for McCoy Tyner, on my right; Criniti’s, where I still eat spaghetti with my aunt before Phillies games, on my left.
Forty thousand of my Philly neighbors will experience their own versions of that connection. Not surprisingly, part of my Broad Street experience involves beer.
The cans of Schmidt’s we guzzled while watching the Flyers’ parade in 1974 . . . the team of Budweiser Clydesdales that carried Pat Burrell after the Phils’ championship in 2008 . . . Westy’s, across the street from the Daily News, where the barstools were stained with ink from the trousers of newspaper printers . . . Alla Spina, the gastropub at Mount Vernon, where they encourage you to buy a sixpack for the kitchen crew.
So, on Sunday, I can’t help but run with a beer – both figuratively and literally. If you see me, help out a fellow Philly guy and give me a sip!
Otherwise, I’ll be hanging out at some of the sudsy postrace activities, including the Broad Street Tailgate hosted by Philadelphia Runner, in FDR Park. They’ll be pouring Yards ale and serving Shake Shack burgers at the park’s boathouse, a short walk from the finish line at the Navy Yard.
Lo Spiedo (inside the Navy Yard) is hosting a Victory Lap Beer Garden and Pig Roast with pints of Victory Summer Love and Helles Lager.
Run 215 is hosting an after-party at City Tap House (2 Logan Square) with Smuttynose beers.
Of course, the Broad Street Run isn’t your only opportunity to run for beer. There are several upcoming brewery-sponsored races on the calendar, including:
May 17: Run for Victory. A 5K in Downingtown in which runners get tix for three free beers. Register: runtheday.com.
May 30: The Fox Trot 5K. This one begins and ends at Sly Fox Brewery, in Pottstown, with free Grisette for finishers. Register: greatamericanbreweryruns.com.
May 30: Fishtown Beer Runners Chicken Run. This 5.2-mile run from Philadelphia Brewing, in Kensington, to American Sardine Bar, in Point Breeze, is organized by the city’s leading beer-running club and finishes with plenty of suds and chicken. Register: americansardinebar.com.
Sept. 12: Flying Fish 5K. The Somerdale, N.J., brewery is the host, and it’ll pour free Oktoberfest for runners. Register: greatamericanbreweryruns.com.
Sept. 27: The Dogfish Dash. The 10th anniversary of this event is an unusual 8K, where you’ll get a 60 Minute IPA served in a stainless-steel pint from the Milton, Del., brewery. Register: dogfishdash.dogfish.com.