It's doubtful that the pint of Fireball cinnamon whiskey was included in the goodie bags of healthy fruit, granola, water, and yogurt distributed to the soggy, ebullient runners at the end of the Blue Cross Broad Street Run.

But it was just what the doctor ordered, passed among the sodden, the brave, and the teary-eyed, punchy with cold, fatigue, and memories at the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation tent.

If there's any truism about Sunday's Broad Street Run, it's that nearly every runner had a story.

That adds up to almost 40,000 stories moving on two legs from North Broad Street, south around City Hall, passing cheering onlookers all 10 miles to the Navy Yard - wave after wave of inspiration on tired legs, in soaked sneakers so wet that the rain no longer mattered.

Donna Truax, 49, of Collegeville, grinned as she held up the Fireball pint, but it didn't take long for tears to rim the edges of her eyes.

Her story?

It started, as many do, with a good friend who died of cancer.

Luckily, ironically, Truax was out of a job when her friend got sick, so was able to care for her, accompanying her to "shenanigans" - their code word for chemo. When her friend died, the American Cancer Society provided funds to tide the family through a rough spot.

So Truax, a first-time runner who finished the race in 2 1/2 hours, raised enough money to pay the Cancer Society back.

"It was hard," Truax said of the race. But she had her own story, as well. In January 2015, she weighed 315 pounds. She now hits the scales at 210.

"A couple of times, when the race was hard, I thought about my friend," she said. "What am I going to say? My hip hurts? She had cancer. She didn't complain about chemo."

She put her arm around her friend, Eddie Lake, 48, who grew up in Philadelphia and West Chester and now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He, too, had a story.

"Nine years ago, I was a junkie," he said. He was addicted to crystal meth. He said he has been HIV-positive since his early 20s and has battled HIV-related lymphoma four times.

"It's amazing, even on a day like today with the rain," he said. "But cancer doesn't give you a rain date."

Why did he run?

The cancer runners have a race custom, each one dedicating the effort to a person with cancer - sometimes many people, those who survive and those who did not.

Three years ago, a friend ran for Lake, as he battled lymphoma. Last year, he ran for a friend with cancer, who died. This year Lake ran for himself, as a survivor, "to prove that I am alive and that I can run."

Lori Moran, a volunteer with the American Cancer Society's fund-raising team, estimated that Sunday's runners raised $700,000 for the society. For most runners, the race costs $45 to enter, but charities working with the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation can charge $500 a bib to raise money.

The day started out soggy and stayed that way.

A couple dozen members of Black Girls Run joined hands in prayer, leaning in for a group hug, ignoring the rain. Among them was Janie Randolph, 59, a retired corrections officer from West Oak Lane who was determined to accomplish the run before she turned 60.

"You know how some people retire and don't do anything?" she said. "I decided I'm going to keep moving." Once diagnosed with high blood pressure, she is now in good enough health to avoid medication.

Many runners huddled inside the Olney subway station before the race, not wanting to spend more time in the rain than necessary.

Above ground, they were an army in baggies, folded into every contraption of plastic bag-turned-poncho. Luckily, many of them were thin, judging by how many managed to huddle under one umbrella.

Speaking into a microphone at the start of the race, race director Jim Marino implored the crowd not to slip on the plastic bag/ponchos discarded by runners at the start. And he joked that he wouldn't be turning on the fire hydrants to cool the runners off.

As it turned out, the rain actually kept injuries down. Marino said a typical Broad Street Run requires 10 medical transports. This year, there were three, and for nothing serious.

"People took it slower because of the weather and the heat did not affect them," he said.

Crowds along Broad Street were thinner than usual, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in cheer and encouragement. "You're almost there," shouted one woman. "The Navy Yard is just ahead."

At the end was a mass of proud but shivering runners.

A savior: school buses with the heat cranked up, brought specifically for runners to warm up in once they finished.

From the buses, they descended into the subway looking like weird silver bats, their foil space blankets wrapped around them like wings as they curled into themselves on the subway ride back, vainly trying to get warm.

Shivering as they minced along on blistered feet, some muscled runners snagged two foil blankets, turning one into a shiny shawl, the second fashioned into a long glittery skirt.

Not exactly athletic wear, but . . .

Sunday's watchword seemed to be grit - grit underfoot, but more important the grit to finish, joyfully, in the rain, in the cold.

Smiling, shaking with cold, runner Karen Brooks, 47, from Northeast Philadelphia, waited for her father, Kevin Brooks, 66, still running 10 years after open-heart surgery.

"Life sometimes throws us stuff we can't avoid," she said. "You can't be a quitter. You can't give up. No pity parties."

Vulnerable at 18, Jonathan Cates ran for a friend, an older woman who could have been his grandmother, but was a mentor at Family Dollar, where they both worked. A few weeks ago, she had a heart attack in church and died.

Cates was devastated. "It was my first time crying in 12 years," he said.

Cates runs with Students Run Philly Style, a 1,300-member group that links teen runners with adult mentors - the idea being that a caring adult can make a difference, whether fleet of foot or not.

His friend didn't run, but Cates remembered how proud she was that he ran. She told him once, he said, " 'No matter what happens to me, keep running.' So I went to practice that same day. I didn't just do this race for me. I did it for Miss Frenchy."

Not every story had heartache behind it.

There was Lance Tippett, 29, of Harleysville, who was at the finish line to present his five-months pregnant wife Angel Tippett, also 29, with blue balloons - revealing the gender of their child.

It will be a boy. She didn't want to know the baby's sex until she finished the race.

There was Caitlin Milo, 27, of Swedesboro, running just nine weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Rita Milo.

"I feel fine," she said, her hair wet, her eyes shining. "I'm excited to be back in the game."



Staff Writer Jonathan Tamari contributed to this article.