For what may have been a lazy Sunday morning for others, was a morning of butterflies and calf stretches for the thousands of other people who packed around The Blue Cross Broad Street Run’s starting line. The marathon, which has been home to Philadelphia since 1980, is a 10 mile beast that runs through the cities northern and southern neighborhoods, giving runners an up close look at some of Philadelphia’s richest culture and attractions. Over the years, the popularity of The Broad Street Run has grown, and now attracts runners from all around the world. Now, organized into color coordinated heaps, it isn’t surprising that of the thousands of runners, no two runners are exactly the same. Mixed in throughout the crowd were people tall and short, thin and wide, and old and young, all whom could be seen tightening up their shoelaces in pursuit of some unknown agenda incomparable to the person standing next to them. It wasn’t until the final seconds before the whistle blew that one obvious similarity could be seen taking over the crowd like the overcast of a cloud. One by one, people wiggled their earbuds into place as they got ready to not only embark on the 10 mile route to the finish, but also on a musical journey that would help carry their spirits to the end.
In comparison to other marathons, The Blue Cross Broad Street Run isn’t the longest, but that doesn’t take away the fact that finishing it can still be a grueling experience. In a matter of blocks, there can be unforeseen casualties like sudden leg cramps accompanied by dehydration and intense exhaustion. Each year the thousands who are picked through the marathon’s lottery system are never reflected in the final count that successfully cross the finish line. But those who do see the end, profess that music was their saving grace. To fight off the temptation of stopping, runners summoned some of their favorite artist to be their running companions. Artist like Daddy Yankee, DJ Khaled, and Coldplay kept up the pace with their running mates as they fought bouts of discouragement.
While it would have been impossible to learn what each person listened to, it was easy to learn the central theme that people hoped to be in tune with. “To get through the race I listened to 80’s classic hip-hop. I then like to mix in 80’s pop and metal,” said T’Sean Laws. “Anything that gets you hyper.”
As it appears, the best music to get you through the 10 miles was music that helped boost your adrenaline. Songs that offered up high energy, infectious beats and motivational lyrics were the songs that had more of an impact when helping runners reach the halfway point and then on. For Alisha Ward, Meek Mill’s song “Glow Up,” came across her playlist at the right moment. “Meeks “Glow Up” came up just as I was coming through City Hall. I didn’t plan on that, but I played it a few more times before switching over to Beyoncé’s “Schoolin’ Life”,” she said as she sat in the grass reliving her experience mile for mile with one of her friends. City Hall marked the halfway point, a point where some runners came close to quitting. Fortunately, the power of music is strong, and it clearly can help you overcome some of the toughest obstacles a 10 mile marathon will throw at you.
According to Dahmiyah L., another runner in this year’s Broad Street Run, Christ was with her every step of the way. She listened to gospel music the entire time, and that’s who she owes her medal to. “I can do all things through Christ,” she said. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people who chose to listen to gospel and Christian music, as opposed to artist like Meek Mill and Beyoncé. Christian hip-hop was actually one of the most prevalent—followed closely by country and other genres. Jessica Barberia said, “I listened to country the whole way and a little R&B. But I hoped that by the end my playlist would get me to “Whoomp There It Is,” by Tag Team. Barberia, who was all smiles, says that her music really made the run bearable.
If it wasn’t for music, who knows how many runners would have succumbed to the vibes of that lazy Sunday morning. Instead, runners popped their cherry cola flavored energy chews into their mouths, and positioned their thumbs over the play button…the latter being their secret weapon as they awaited the blow of the whistle signaling them to “Go.”