A man that should need no introduction, but we're going to start with one anyway. Let's chat with Mr. Brodie:
Who are you?
Lionel Brahim Brodie III, a disruptive, trend setting, fashion–forward academic thinker and entrepreneurial proactivist.
What is your relationship to running?
Founder, Original Propaganda Athletic Club, which is a Family, not a group, crew, or club. Not–as–fast runners not intimidated by their faster counterparts, but rather motivated by them. Fast runners not frustrated with their not–as fast counterparts, but inspired by them. A community where we equivalently cheer the Couch–To–5Ker with the same fervor that we do the Seasoned Marathoner and OTQ hopeful. We have it all in our family. Athletes of ALL FACES AND PACES, our canon, coexisting in an “Equally Competitive” environment.
Lululemon Running Ambassador, Philadelphia. Ciele FRND. I feel like I’m writing my resume, but I mention these because as a bigger athlete who is Black…..I sometimes have imposter syndrome like I should be in this space. And sometimes I know I belong here.
E–Commerce Content Manager at Philadelphia Runner, the biggest and baddest run specialty store in the area. I’m blessed to be trusted (and get paid) to be one of the voices of the Philly Run Culture.
Personally, I love Running because you have to be super engaged in the process. It’s so mental, and I love to challenge myself mentally almost as much as physically. Am I wearing too much, am I wearing too little? Am I running too fast, am I not running fast enough? You are chasing the sun in the winter, swerving the sun in the summer. Running makes me push myself more than I ever had to push myself – mentally or physically – period. I wake up with rhinoceros vision and snake hearing. A love for acidic foods and gluten. My doctor forbids acidic foods and gluten. A left shoulder secured by thread. A stomach that cannot at times tell if it is hungry, bloated, or nauseous. Pepper grinders for knees. Two Towers of Pisa for ankles. And because of these BLESSINGS…..I run. On treadmills, sidewalks, streets, and trails. In 5Ks, 10Ks, half–marathons, and 1 day, a marathon. Because some say I should not and most think I cannot. I run because I can. I run to overcome.
Describe the Philly run scene. Who is it for? How can people join the culture
The scene here is growing. Sounds cornball–ish, but it’s the most accurate way that I can describe it. Growing as a community AND in community with one another. It’s a beautiful vibe. There has always been a scene here filled with clubs and groups. There are even a few that I would classify as crews in the London/NYC definition of ‘run crew’. I think the club and crew culture here is beginning to mesh and find a way to coexist. We don’t have enough runway here for me to deep dive into that topic haha. What’s interesting is that brands are starting to notice and play a part here, which is somewhat delineating the club/crew thing…..in my personal opinion.
I use London/NYC as a frame of reference a lot because when Opac started eleven (11) years ago, I didn’t know there was a running scene in Philly. So I was (and still am) inspired by Run Dem Crew, Bridge Runners, Black Roses, etcetera. I think that Philadelphia ignorance on my part helped Opac because we always thought global and always thought we were the first in Philly. The latter is of course false, but it then gave us a greater appreciation for the Philly clubs/crews that preceded us: Fishtown Beer Runners, City Fit Girls (now Strides), South Philly Striders, etcetera. I look at the Run Culture in the same way that I look at early hip–hop. Another topic that we’d need a longer diving board to really jump into.
The thing that I absolutely love about Philly is that as cliched as it sounds, the “scene” is for everyone. Any and every demographic permeates most of the clubs and crews here. And if that person doesn’t, there’s a dedicated club for those needs.
If you’re from out–of-town you could honestly show up at Lloyd Hall and just hop in someone’s group run. I’m here from such-and-such looking for a run. And The City would embrace you.
We tried not to, but we just have to ask – what’s the best cheesesteak place in Philly?
The best cheesesteak on the planet isn’t in Philadelphia. Pudge's Steaks & Hoagies in Blue Bell, PA. Outside of the city…..doesn’t matter. Pepperoni cheesesteak, mayonnaise, mushrooms, fried onions. Clear your schedule beforehand and obviously after.
Favorite restaurant overall?
I’ll keep this local, and breakdown by my favorite foods.
Pizza: Pica's Restaurant of Upper Darby. Second best pizza on Earth (Gino’s East, Superior Street, The Chi is number ono); best mozzarella sticks on the planet.
Wings: City Tap House Logan Square. Ten spice dry rub. Why do you think we chose it for Opac Expo? Hold the blue cheese ranch. It’s good, but you won’t need it.
Coffee: Reanimator on Master Street. High–level coffee, first–class people watching (this location is a stylist’s DREAM…..blend of yuppie, preppy, and hipster with a splash of athleisure and a side of I-don’t-give-a-fuck.) Basically how I dress every damn day), and the local shortbread pretzel cookies from Lost Bread Company (‘ok’ emoji).
Pasta (favorite food): honestly don’t know. Gonna sound so basic, but I had the Taylor Street Baked Ziti from Maggiano’s last night and I’ve been thinking about it all day like I want to date it, propose to it, and marry it.
If someone’s planning to spend a weekend in Philly for the marathon, what should they spend their time doing?
Number one, come run with O.P.A.C., duh! Number two, do NOT take a picture in front of the Rocky Statue. It’s a movie prop for a fictional character who, in real life, could not win against any of his opponents. Carl Weathers is a former NFL player (for the Oakland Raiders when they were, um, THEE OAKLAND RAIDERS). Mr. T and Hulk Hogan? No. Dolph Lundgren, doubtful. Tommy Morrison (RIP) and Antonio Tarver are real boxers. I mean stop.
Visit Independence Hall. Both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution…..this building. The country was born here (sorry rest of America, but it’s true). The Liberty Bell is right across the street from Independence Hall…..2 birds, 1 stone.
Boathouse Row. Historic. 8K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon folks are going to run past it right before the finish line. Walk it first and take it in.
Elfreth’s Alley. Scratch that. I’d take an Old City Tour if time permitted. Most of America’s First are within a few blocks radius.
Best bars would be New Deck Tavern. It’s in West Philly near the University of Pennsylvania. IT IS THE CATHEDRAL OF PENN RELAYS. AND OPAC RELAYS. Get the Cheesesteak Nachos without jalapeños. Locust Rendezvous is a diner/hole–in–the–wall/diamond in the rough. I think they still have a jukebox of sorts. Breakfast all day. Cheap shots. Opac should do a Locust Rendezvous collab haha. I’ll send you the shirt and hat.
Lapstone & Hammer and Atmos will have the lifestyle/streetwear kicks and gear you need to stay fresh. And both will have local brands and collaborations that you can’t find anywhere else. Mitchell & Ness (probably should’ve led with this) is headquartered here and is THEE name is retro sports apparel. Diadora’s North American Headquarters are in South Philadelphia. Not sure if this is open to the public, but if you can get in the showroom is ELITE. Obviously get all of your running needs from one of Philadelphia Runner’s four (4) locations. And when you really want to swag, and be active in the same attire, hit lululemon. Hahahahaha, super cringy but you’ll see my face on the wall at the Rittenhouse Square location AND the King Of Prussia Mall.
What do you hope for when it comes to the future of Philly run culture?
I f*cking love Philly and its run culture. Just keep being you…..being us…..and we are UP!
Other than my unfiltered love of running, track, jogging, field…..everything to do with this beautiful ecosystem, the reason I wake up dialed in each morning and stay on 11 (Spinal Tap reference) until its bedtime…..is because I’m playing my small part in elevating Philadelphia to having an independent running culture. By independent I mean Our City isn’t having culture trickle down to us from Boston and New York City, or up to us from Miami and DC. I love all of those aforementioned cities. A lot actually haha, maybe too much. But internally we as Philadelphians, and externally brands need to realize that we are not a subculture. We are our own culture. I sound like I’m on some James Harden shit right now. “I’m not a system player, I am a system”. Maybe I should race the 8K on Saturday in a Harden jersey. They’re probably 65% off right now.