It was the wettest of times, it was the windiest of times. At least, that’s how it felt at the last two Team Foster events. We’ve got your recap below. Spoiler: the elements are no match for the Team Foster tribe.
On May 1, we tackled the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. Yes, that Broad Street run – the largest 10-miler in the nation. Over the course of its 37-year history, the race has become as iconic to Philadelphia as the cheesesteak or the Wawa hoagie, as sprinkler caps fitted to fire hydrants, as museum steps more famous than the Frida Kahlo artwork inside. In other words, it’s a big deal.
This year, Mother Nature joined the party in spectacular fashion, bringing buckets of rain and a high temperature of only 54 degrees. But neither steady precipitation nor bitter cold coul discourage intrepid spectators. We’re thinking of Temple University’s Diamond Marching Band, out in full force at Broad and Polett; the November Project cheering station at Broad and Jackson, where mini trampolines and water guns are always a staple; and all of you beautiful Philadelphians along the way holding soggy, albeit clever, homemade signs. (Read: “If Trump can run, so can you.”)
The weather didn’t discourage any of the 21 Team Foster ambassadors who laced up this day, either. In TF’s new-for-2016, dri-fit shirts, we – wait for it — rose up to the challenge of our rival (the rain), and finished strong.
“I haven’t smiled that much in a super long time,” says Team Foster CEO Nick Liermann. “When conditions are like that, it can be even more motivating. I still have all my limbs. I’m not deployed. What a privilege that I’m able to run 10 miles in the rain because I want to, and not because I’m being ordered to.”
Afterward, Cozen Champions, the charity arm of international law firm and Team Foster sponsor Cozen O’Connor, hosted our water-logged runners in the (blessedly dry) Xfinity Center, where we recovered with free beer and food. Pretty generous, eh? We’re already looking forward to next year’s race.
The rain kept on keeping on until May 14, the day before Wildwood’s fourth annual Wild Half half marathon. At 7:30am, on the same stretch of boardwalk as bib pickup and race registration, we set up a Team Foster information booth which our board members took turns manning.
All around us were signs of summer – the Great White roller coaster making its first test runs of the season (with poker-faced plastic dummies on board). Little kids making their way to the ocean with boogie boards in tow. And all of the “suns out guns out” tee-shirts we’ve come to expect from the Jersey Shore’s most delightfully tacky town.
But the best part of the day? All of the interest in the Team Foster cause shown by passersby. We met a man who was inspired to donate in memory of his son, a victim of 9/11. We met a woman who told us about daughter Kcey Ruiz, a member of the Air Force who was killed recently in Afghanistan. And we met one woman who agreed to sign up for the Foster 100 because TF board member Bob Kenney promised the wind would be at her back the whole time come September 17.
That would be the last time anyone from Team Foster would make a joke about wind.
The next day, the morning of the race, we woke up to 30-mile-per-hour gusts whipping off the ocean. Standing at the starting line near Convention Hall on the boardwalk, all five Team Foster runners prepared for a tough two hours. Bob requested a sail. (Okay, so there was one more wind joke.)
But after the gun went off, our team dug deep and pushed through. The thought of free beer at the finish line helped. High fives from fellow runners who recognized us from the day before helped even more. And of course, we relied on the kind of teamwork that Erick Foster inspired all the time.
“It was brutal,” says TF board member Staci Brecht. “As soon as you turned onto North Wildwood Boulevard at the 3.3 mile mark, the wind was coming right at you, and it stayed that way on and off the entire race. The thing that kept me going was Nick, motivating me and pushing me. Toward the end, when I got my second wind, I was able to do the same for him.”
Proof of the Team Foster spirit? Not only did everyone survive, Staci, who ran with Nick as a guide because she is legally blind, managed to PR in 1:54:51, despite the tough conditions.
That’s the Team Foster community for you.