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Update Nov. 13: You can buy a race t-shirt, hoodie, magnet or mug, with all net proceeds also going to Philabundance.
The Fraud Street Run, a charity 11-miler that starts at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Holmesburg and ends at the Four Seasons hotel in Center City, was born of the idea that Philly has a great sense of humor coupled with a desire to give back.
“We just wanted to turn something negative into something positive,” race founder Jeff Lyons told Billy Penn.
In its first five hours, the event raised more than $2,000 for hunger nonprofit Philabundance, and the pace continued to pick up. Within three days, nearly $22,000 had rolled in.
Lyons, 51-year-old web developer from Wynnewood, said he came up with the idea for the event during a weekend run. On the Saturday after Election Day, the Trump campaign staged a press conference at the small Northeast Philly garden service center between an adult bookshop and a crematorium, bringing worldwide fame to a hinterland location incumbent President Donald Trump originally mistook for the swanky downtown hotel by the same name.
By the next morning, Four Seasons Total Landscaping was the internet’s new obsession. It made headlines from Washington to London. Furries created a VR version as a hangout spot. It was discovered to be the perfect fit for the first line of any famous novel. U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, in whose district it lies, suggested a historical marker.
“That’d be a great place to run to,” Lyons mused to running mate Gerard Pescatore that morning, taking it all in. “We should start at one Four Seasons and end at the other.”
After other running pals gave Lyons their seal of approval, including podcast partner and local comedian Chip Chantry, Rocky 50k creator Rebecca Barber, NYT running columnist Jen A. Miller and Philly sports and culture expert Dan McQuade, he decided to go for it.
Using the Map My Run app, he built a scenic route that started at Total Landscaping, hugged the river as it came south, and then turned into the heart of the city toward the hotel. It clocked in at just under 11 miles — very close to the annual Broad Street Run, which was held virtually this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, to the chagrin of the tens of thousands of participants.
“This is the time of year when a lot of us who run, we don’t have the races we usually look forward to,” Lyons said.
With these cards in place, the name for the new race was obvious.
Lyons originally toyed with something like “Eight Seasons Total Landscaping Hotel Run,” but as soon as he tweeted it out, he was swarmed with the true, rightful answer. Nearly half a dozen people suggested “Fraud Street Run” via public or private messages, Lyons said. “I couldn’t say who was first.”
Set for the weekend of Nov. 28-299, the event is what’s known as a “fat ass race,” which basically means there are no official rules or regulations. No registration, no medals, no t-shirts, no fees. The only strict rules, per Lyons, are to wear a mask and observe social distancing along the route.
Because of its popularity, Lyons has taken the entire event virtual:
Run the course (or an 11-mile-ish equivalent in your area) any time, anywhere, starting Saturday, 11/28. Wear a mask, be socially distant, be safe, and have fun! Once you are done crushing it, post your photos, GPS info, and other race-related fun to Twitter and Instagram using #FraudStreetRun.
Participants are also asked to donate at least $10 to Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, which every week helps feed 90k people in need.
“The basic goal is to do something fun and positive and not be overly partisan — everyone’s welcome,” Lyons said. “We’re just doing our Philly thing.”