6 tips for being a super race spectator

It was a nice day to run 26.2 miles…  

It was a nice day to cheer runners…running 26.2 miles. 

I went out to cheer for the NYC Marathon runners.  Some runners were friends, some co-workers, some whom I run and train with weekly.  As I prepared for being a spectator at the NYC Marathon race, I thought about my experience and how I felt running the NYC marathon.  I can recall the support, cheers and energy from the crowd.    Half of the experience felt like an elevation from the crowd – sort of like crowd surfing while listening to your favorite band live.  Because I ran this race, I know the strength of the crowd support and the value of that support to get some runners through those last few miles.  

So, I planned to cheer considering the benefits I got from spectators of the NYC marathon and other races that I’ve run.   I got my camera, comfortable shoes and some treats together. I planned to be at mile 9 in the first half to elevate the runners and mile 23, near the end, to give the runners whatever they needed to make it through those last few miles.  This is a race where there are probably more people in the crowd than there are runners.  It’s an amazing experience from both points of view. 

Here are some tips for being a super spectator at a race: 

1.     Determine where you will be, cross streets of your location and side of the streets (runners left or right) and share this with your friend whose running so that they will know when and where to look for you.

2.     You need to be recognized by your friends and family running!  You should get a sign, a t-shirt or balloons that will help you stand out.  

3.     Make some noise!  You gotta yell!  Cheer them on – all of them!  People wear their names on their clothing and bibs for a reason.  Call out to them.  Walk with a cowbell or tambourine or other instrument.  Bring a radio or iPod! Let them hear you!

4.     Dress comfortably!  You will be on your feet for some time so you will need to dress for the weather and the environment.  Monitor the weather forecast and wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  

5.     Bring them what they want and what they need!  At mile 23 I brought what they wanted and what they needed with me.  I walked with Gatorade, gel fuel, honey stinger wafers, coconut water, pretzels, tissue, cough drops, salt packets and made sure I gave hugs.  I tried to think about how I felt at that point. There were so many runners asking for salt at mile 23 that I ran out. You would be surprised how many total strangers will come up to you crying or in pain asking for things.  My crew and I did our best to push these runners through so that they wouldn’t give up trying to finish the race. 

6.     Lastly, you gotta have a cheer crew!  Invite people to cheer with you so that you can be seen, make some noise, hand out what they want and need while sharing dance moves and hugs. 

Keep moving!