As the weather finally (finally!) begins to warm up from a very long winter, we enter the road runner’s favourite season: yes, that’s right, marathon race season has begun! Whether or not you’re a runner yourself, you probably know someone who is a running a marathon this year.
Whether your runner is on their first marathon, or their fifteenth, running for between 3.5 to 5 hours is hard work. These athletes have logged hundreds of kilometers over the past 18 weeks, preparing for their big race day. On race day, they turn to the crowds to cheer them on and help get them to the finish line, upright, healthy and smiling. Being an amazing marathon spectator is work, too, but thankfully, it’s not as difficult as the run itself.
Here are six tricks to achieving awesome marathon spectator status this marathon race season:
- Make A Sign. Keep it funny; runners are in enough pain and emotional agony without being reminded how much further they have to go until they cross the finish line. Here are some great examples of awesome marathon signs:
- I’m Brian’s athletic supporter!
- Run like you stole something
- Worst parade ever
- Smile if you pee’d a little
- Why do all the cute ones run away?
- I’m sure it seemed like a good idea 4 months ago
- How’s that New Year’s resolution working out?
- Creative inspirational marathon sign
- Toenails are for sissies
- Touch here for power (target symbol)
- Make Some Noise. Runners are often listening to their own music, caught up in their running mantra, but hearing the cheers and shouts of those on the sidelines is a great fuel to keep going. Bring your cowbells, thunder sticks, and clackers! Get excited!
- Is Your Runner On Twitter? Find out if they’ve been tweeting about their upcoming run; get their hashtag and tweet pictures of them along the race course. (Use #RunVanBrian and tag me @br_webb on twitter if you get a picture of yours truly in the 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon!)
- High Fives! When it’s safe and you stay out of the path of the race, you are allowed to get off the sidewalk and onto the race course to give runners a high-five; keep your hand low so your runner doesn’t have to break their pattern to slap your hand. Even if you don’t know the runner you’re fiving with, the good energy is appreciated.
- Keep Your Kids Under Control. Bringing kids to a race is a great way to show them what excellent, healthy tools a body can be, and excited kids cheering for their parents is wonderful motivation. But keep your kids, especially young kids, under control. Don’t let them run into the race course; it’s for their protection, as well as that of the runners. If your kids are unhappy, and you can’t calm them where you are, it’s for the best that you take them away from the racecourse to settle them; no parent is going to have good feelings while watching their child cry. It sucks to miss seeing your runner, but not as much as it sucks to mess up their run.
- Celebrate At The Finish Line. For marathon spectators, the best part of the race is at the finish line, but remember, the first guy to run a marathon died at the end of it. Your runner will be exhausted, sore, and high on endorphins. They may feel sick, cramp, or want to just fall over. Most runners will need to slowly cool down for a few minutes, then walk, to keep their bodies from locking up entirely. This is what the finishers chute at a race is for; do not enter this area looking for your runner. When your runner finds you, turn yourself into an aid station. Have water, fuel, a change of clothes, and a place to rest, ready to go. Let your runner tell you what they need, and then help them get it.
I’ll be running the BMO Vancouver Marathon on Sunday, May 4, 2014, last year my time was 3h 45m 54s. You can also find me in the Abbotsford Run for Water Marathon on Sunday, May 25, 2014, last year my time was 3h 59m 51s.