Keeping pace with those 'bolting down Broad'

Posted: May 08, 2012

In the series Bolting Down Broad, The Inquirer profiled 21 runners in 21 days leading up to the Broad Street Run. Many of them reported in Sunday after the race. Here are some highlights:

Dick Hoban, one of the oldest of the 40,000 runners, will be back next year. At 81, he wanted to run faster than two hours or he'd retire from the race after 27 straight years. Well, he ran it in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 47 seconds. So he had 13 seconds to spare.

Cynthia Lockett, 58, of Philadelphia, the recovered heroin addict, took more than three hours but finished. It took her so long that she didn't even get to post an official time. She thought of her mother, to whom she dedicated this race, the entire way. So many people high-fived her and supported her along the way, especially at the end, when runners who had long finished and were walking back to the subway or back to their cars, cheered her on.

"I was literally the sole runner on Broad Street," she said, "Next year I will be faster."

Kiran Midha Bhambhani, 38, of New York, who only started running a few months ago because her new husband is a crazy-serious runner, ran in 2:01:30. However, she predicted her loving and supportive husband would run with her the entire way. He did not, finishing in 1:18:18.

Jeb Woody, 34, the Texan turned restaurateur, who owns Honey's Sit 'N Eat in Northern Liberties, found his first 10-miler to be transcendent. "The inherent rhythm of bopping heads and tapping feet was almost spiritual," he said, "and there were moments of feeling unified with everyone running and watching, as if all were one.

"I've learned things about running, my city, my neighbors, but mostly myself. I've still got some growing to do, but today was a moment I'll look back on as a milestone in my journey through this life."

He also slapped Ed Rendell a high five in Center City, and screamed out "Fast Eddie!"

Jonathan Lieberman, 40, the interventional radiologist, beat his friend Paul Comuso, a critical care nurse, in a duel the men dubbed "The Battle on Broad Street." They were racing one another as a fund-raiser for the family of Chris Gleason, who died in the Philadelphia Marathon last November.

"Six years older, 25 pounds heavier, and 5 minutes and 22 seconds faster!" Lieberman gloated.

Carrie Maria, the founder of Monster Milers, a group of 250 volunteers who visit animal shelters and take the bored, homeless dogs out for a run, said: "I feel the way I always do after Broad Street - like I really accomplished something."

Tim Burke, 44, of Clarks Summit, Pa., who suffers from multiple sclerosis but refuses to let it control his life, was euphoric. "The crowd was awesome," he said. "The energy and excitement was infectious. The weather was perfect. The subway ride back to Spring Garden was very odiferous!"

"If there was one 'best' thing, it was the contact I had with others who have questions about MS and who were inspired by my story. That makes it all worthwhile."

Rod Elam, the SEPTA engineer who is a member of Steel Force, the primarily African American running group, said he ran 1:22, a personal best by seven minutes. "Overall I had a great time today with my crew," he said. "We all did well. Even our injured runners stayed strong and finished. Steel Force for life!"

Joseph Whelan, whose life turned around because of running, helping him find meaning, purpose, and even true love, ran with his soon-to-be fiancee and also with friends from Students Run Philly Style, where he is a volunteer.

"We had a blast - not even sure what our time was, and don't even care," said Whelan, 27, who is heading off to Africa with the Peace Corps in a few weeks. "Got some huge hugs from some of the students from my Students Run team from last year in the Navy Yard."

Emily Holian, 20, the junior nursing student at the University of Delaware, said she raised more than $4,500 for an organization that works to end child slavery in India. "This was the most rewarding experience I've ever had," she said, "all because we were doing it for somebody else."

Perhaps the most amazing story of all belonged to Chad Phillips, 30, of Williamstown, a manager at Bertucci's in Newark, Del. He lost more than 100 pounds in the last year.

He tripped in a pothole after Mile 7, and the pain was excruciating.

"My body was screaming stop," he said. But he thought of all the pain he'd gone through to lose so much weight. "I screamed at myself, 'No freaking way,' " he said. " 'You can deal with the pain after the race.' "

He was wincing so as he ran that "another runner even slowed down and said, 'Hey man, you OK?' " Chad gave him a thumbs up because "the pain was so bad I couldn't even talk."

He crossed the finish line.


Contact Michael Vitez at 215-854-5639 or mvitez@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @michaelvitez. Check out his new book, "The Road Back," about a Broad Street runner at www.michaelvitez.com

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