I consider myself pretty lucky that after all the crazy races I’ve tackled, I still have plenty of family and friends willing to come sit for hours and cheer for me at my most important races.
Goose comes to almost all of my races. He doesn’t really show up for 5ks or training races like the 15k I did last weekend, but more often than not, he is there. I cannot tell you how much it matters to have supporters there on race day.
At my last marathon, I had a list down my arm to remind me to look for spectators at certain mile markers.
See the marker? I loved looking down at my arm during the race and knowing that I only had a few miles until I’d see someone again. It’s amazing how much a familiar face and a little cheer can mean during a race.
I actually started my endurance career as a spectator, cheering for my dad at his many marathons. Going to cheer at a race soon? Here are some tips to help your spectating run smoothly:
- If you’re heading to a race to cheer for someone in particular, have a plan. Know what they plan to wear and tell them where you will be. Be as specific as possible, including mile marker and side of the road. At especially big races (the Chicago Marathon has 45,000 registered runners!) it can be difficult for you to spot the runner, and easier for them to spot you.
- If the race has runner tracking, sign up for text message alerts about the runners you are there to support.
- Make sure your cheers are positive… but never say, “You’re almost there!” A well-meaning spectator said this to me around mile 16 of a marathon. Nope. Not almost there yet. When you’re really tired and questioning your own sanity, even mile 25 of a marathon might not feel like “almost there.” Stick to things like, “You’re so strong!” or “You are awesome!”
- Cheer for everyone! Some racers don’t have spectators, but they still need some love. Cheer, cheer, cheer.
- Make sure you eat and drink. At especially long races, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the athlete you’re supporting that you forget to take care of yourself! You’re out there in the heat for hours, too. Stay healthy!
- Bring signs and have fun!
I am arming myself with cheerleaders for Steelhead. Think it’s too much to try to put someone at every half mile marker on the run course? That way, I can get excited when I see the mile markers on the course, and then in just half a mile, I’ll see a friendly face. Too much?
I’m also selling my miles for the race. Please consider making a donation and sending me a little note of encouragement for your mile. Goose will put everything together for me to keep me going on race day. (I borrowed this fantastic idea from another SoleMate!) If you already donated, but haven’t chosen your mile yet, please shoot me an e-mail so I can add you to the list.
Do you like to cheer at races? What are your spectator tips?