On Thursday morning in the pouring rain, Peter Sagal set out to run the streets of Philadelphia with 19 people in tow.
Sagal, who is host of NPR's Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me, was in town to do a show at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts that night. But that morning, he came to the WHYY Studios to get in a run, a city tour, and help fundraise a little bit too.
"It's totally selfish of me because people want me to come out and hang with the donors," said Sagal, a multi-marathoner who also writes a column for Runner's World magazine. With a group run, he said, "I get to go for my run and meet people at the same time."
The three-mile run, which was open to current WHYY members, cost $50. Participants met Sagal through the run and over breakfast, and were given a free hat and tshirt too. The event also included warm up and cool down sessions on the floor of the WHYY lobby. Sagal, who has been hosting the popular show since 1998, joked with runners and posed for pictures before heading out to write that night's show.
Sagal has done runs like this in six other cities, and whether he does a group run while the show's on tour depends on if the local NPR station can set something up. Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me will be hosting its third group run in their home city of Chicago later this year.
This is the second time Sagal has run in Philadelphia through an event with WHYY. The first time, in 2010 when the show was at the Kimmel Center, was a route that started in Center City and wound through Fairmount Park and University City. Then, WHYY asked that runners be able to meet a specific pace in order to participate, and the group was small. (I ran in that group run and Sagal and I were heckled while running down Market Street, though we still debate who was being yelled at).
This time, such a pace wasn't required. The group was supposed to run over the Ben Franklin Bridge and back, but it became a Penn's Landing run because of concerns that the pedestrian pathway would be too slippery in the rain.
"It's a great way to engage our members," said Adrienne Webb, community relations coordinator for WHYY. Events like this are "what brings public media programs to life."