Left out of Broad Street Run, some go to lengths to get in

Meredith Minnick runs in Ardmore. She is one of the thousands shut out of the Broad Street Run who are still trying to get in.
Meredith Minnick runs in Ardmore. She is one of the thousands shut out of the Broad Street Run who are still trying to get in. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 07, 2014

Every time Margie Illenberger has crossed the Broad Street Run's finish line down at the Navy Yard, she has popped open a can of cold beer. She, usually with her brothers, has celebrated the 10-mile run this way for nine years.

"It's the best beer of the year," the 58-year-old Doylestown resident said. No particular brand, just whatever's cold.

But this year, Illenberger is among the 5,000 who were shut out of the race lottery. Despite her poor chances of getting an official Broad Street Run bib, she says she's not ready to give up yet.

During the last few weeks, Illenberger and hundreds of other runners have been heading online in hopes of getting a much-coveted spot in the May 4 race. Some have posted on the official bib-transfer message board, while others have visited the burgeoning Broad Street bib black market on Craigslist.

The online pleas have been getting more inventive by the day. One runner made her case in the form of a limerick. Another wrote of how running helped him shed 230 pounds. A third called himself the "Thong Runner."

Even some of the bib sellers are being imaginative.

One seller on Craigslist wrote that he is only willing to give his bib up to a "sexy single lady." He also said he's expecting more than just cash in return.

His match may well be lurking out there.

One buyer, who called herself "Krissy" on the official Broad Street Run transfer board, began her post with this subject line: "Looks hot in shorts!!"

Then she spelled it out: "I live to run and look good doing it."

Race officials say there's nothing wrong with a bit of creativity in the bib transfer market. In fact, they encourage it. But if you're thinking of turning a profit reselling bibs, said race director Jim Marino, think again.

"We don't permit people to charge a fee that's above the standard entrance fee," Marino said. The race entry fee is $43. "If we find out about any illegal transfers, we're prepared to ban both parties."

This year's lottery, Marino said, was able to accommodate 36,000 of the 41,000 runners who registered. Race organizers hold back an additional 4,000 bibs for people running for charity, runners who got a bib last year but chose to defer, and competitive teams.

So far, the buyers appear to far outnumber the sellers online.

It took only minutes for Dominique Kilmartin, a 21-year-old junior at Villanova University, to be inundated with offers for her bib after her post appeared Feb. 17.

"I've gotten people who are offering me double, triple, the entrance fee," Kilmartin said. "It's all a bit overwhelming."

She decided to sell her bib to a classmate for the $43 face value, plus an additional $15 that the race charges for processing all bib transfers.

Meredith Minnick is among the more than 500 buyers who had posted on the official race message board. She wrote on Feb. 18: "I had a baby girl April 30 and it was my goal to run my first 10-mile run when she turned 1! Transfer your bib to me and I promise to run the whole 10 miles. Afterwards, I'll celebrate with a keg stand or two."

"It's sort of like marketing," Minnick, 33, of Havertown, said of her post. "There are a lot of people on there, so you have to make yourself stand out."

Jorge Arroyo may stand out for his story alone. This marks Arroyo's third year of getting shut out of Broad Street. His friends have started joking that he is jinxed. "I'm only going to run if I can get in right way," said Arroyo, 44, of Lumberton. "Worst-case scenario, there's always next year."

Todd Tracey, 50, tried to make himself memorable by talking about his children. He wrote that he wants to run Broad Street to set an example for his three children.

It's unfortunate, the Oreland resident said, that some sellers are trying to game the system by charging more than face value for their bibs.

"If there are lots of people doing that, then Broad Street should probably rethink its strategy for next year," Tracey said.

But Marino said he did not think the run would turn into a cash cow for opportunistic sellers.

"I don't think that's very prevalent," he said. "The running community is pretty open and honest."

Many say they're mindful of the slim-to-none odds of getting a bib. Still, Illenberger, the nine-time veteran, remains optimistic.

"I think something will work out," she said. "It's my favorite race, and I really don't want to miss it."

Bib or no bib, she's still going to have that beer.


215-854-2619 @szweifler


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