Philadelphia – “I nearly broke down and cried as I stood listening to Sweet Caroline”, said Tami Tsingiropolos (West Chester, PA), at the starting line of the Philadelphia “BROAD STREET RUN”. “Then I remembered the people of Boston and used that moment as a point of inspiration to run and finish the 10 mile race. As the horn blew I leaped forward past Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia who waved each group of runners through at the starting line.”
“Sweet Caroline”, (by Neil Diamond) is the theme song played during Red Sox games at Fenway Park in Boston. That song became an national anthem in Boston following the “Boston Marathon” bombing and now in Philadelphia on Sunday for fans and runners before the “Broad Street Run”. For Tsingiropoulos, she was more determined now than ever to accomplish her goal of competing in the run and breaking her own record.
Although her family expressed great concern in her participation, she had set a goal and she was out to complete it. “I’m a goal oriented person and that’s how I live my life. I set the bar with whatever I do and go for”, said Tsingiropoulos.
Tsingiropoulos started training back in January for the big run, 3-4 times a week. “I ran short distances, fast paces, building my endurance. By spring, I was running 7 mile stretches a few times a week. said Tsingiropoulos. “It was the second time I was going to participate in the annual “Broad Street Run”. “The annual event is the biggest (participated) 10 mile race in the US,” says Tsingiropoulos. “That’s ten miles, not ten K,” she added. 40,000 people participated in the race down Broad Street for a variety of national and local charities. “The Run is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield and is for cancer. I ran on behalf of my mother who has been battling cancer for 3 years.”
The 46-year-old Greek mother of two characterized the day as emotional. It was the first time she had ever missed participating in Easter Services at her home church of St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall, PA. She wanted to attend midnight mass the night before, but realized it would be extremely difficult to compete the next morning in the race.
Born and raised in suburban Philadelphia, Tsingiropoulos was first a GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth of America) athlete; today she is a St. Luke GOYA basketball coach. She also coached the church track team to a number of championships, at the annual James D. Tanos AHEPA TRACK MEET in Upper Darby, the past few years.
“Running down Broad Street a continuing stream of supporters cheered me on as I paced myself along with the other runners. It was all so surreal now in hindsight. Starting in Olney, (North Philadelphia) the streets were lined with gospel singers that had come out to support the runners by singing hymns as we ran by.That was unbelievable”, said Tsingiropoulos. “Seeing Philadelphia sports fans waving posters inspired and motivated me to complete the run while a group of hospitalized children from St. Christopher’s hospital, also lined a section of Broad Street with nurses at their side. As I ran by them, I saw them smiling and waving from their wheelchairs, that brought on a wave of emotion and I began to cry.”
“At the 6 mile mark, my husband George and friend Lisa stood waving a Greek flag, encouraging me to keep going. As I stopped and gave them a brief hug and kiss, other runners yelled out Christos Anesti (Christ has Risen)! That really caught us off guard. A few seconds later we parted. Lisa and George took the subway down to the finish line and waited for me to arrive.
“My finish time last year was 1 hour and 48 minutes, not great, but I did finish. All I wanted to do this year was beat last year’s time. As a kid, I use to dream about running for Greece in the Olympics. At 46, a mother of two and an X-athlete, today I was worried about my knees giving out. My left knee has no cartilage in it and it’s always a concern when I run”.
“As I crossed the finish line the Greek flag appeared again in the crowed. I came in 3 1/2 minutes faster this time around. I thought to myself, I DID IT! As I made my way over to George and Lisa, I heard the sound of camera shutters going off. We embraced, I took the Greek flag, wrapped it around myself and we all wished each other, Christos Anesti! I picked up my medal of participation and headed out to a restaurant, where we caught up with my family, who were out to dinner. When I walked in my family clapped and my mom shouted “hooray” and was just glad I was safe. When I put the medal around her neck I said “this is for you” and she put her hand over her mouth and cried.”