Friday, November 1, 2013

If This Race Were Any Easier It'd Be Called Your Mom

One of the most important things about any race are the spectators. They can change the tone of any event, and they're part of what helps keep us runners going when the race gets tough. The Marine Corps Marathon had some of the best crowd support I've ever seen in any race. It was incredible. The fantastic crowd led me to think (and there's lots of time in 26.2 miles to think) about what what makes great race spectators.

1. Be loud. The louder and more outrageous the better. Cheer, clap, whistle, play music. You may feel stupid, but trust me - you're inspiring someone.  I love the guy who was blasting Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" from an old school boom box around mile six of the MCM. That guy gets brownie points.

2. Make a sign! Marathon signs are THE best. Some of my favorites:
  • My all time fav: If This Race Were Any Easier It'd Be Called Your Mom (seen at the Winter Blast Half Marathon in Portage, MI earlier this year)
  • Run Like You Stole Something
  • You're Running Better than the Government (seen for the first time at MCM - topical and clever!)
  • Make this Marathon Your Bitch
  • Go Hard - That's What She Said
  • Toenails are Overrated
  • Pain is Temporary; Internet Results are Forever
  • I'd Whistle at you but Girl I'd Never Objectify you Like That (held up by a cute guy during the MCM)
  • Sofa King Hot (a sign a guy had at the Green Bay Marathon in 2012 where it was 100 degrees)

Some awesome MCM spectators before the race
3. More Cow Bell. It's hard to keep up the cheering for hours. Cow bell is the perfect helper. It's loud, it's noticeable, and who doesn't love cow bell?


4. Bring supplies. In particular during a marathon you find yourself wishing you had things like tissues.  The MCM spectators came prepared. There were so many different snacks (I would like to thank the person who gave me Twizzlers at mile 16), tissues, baby wipes,Vasoline. At mile 24 this guy had some shots of vodka, and I have to admit I was tempted but refrained. Even if people don't take whatever you're offering, it's nice to know someone cares.

5. Be encouraging but realistic. Please, please, please do NOT say "you're almost there" until the runners are ACTUALLY almost there. If I can't see the finish line, I am not almost there. When I'm at a mile 20 and someone yells, "You're almost there" I wish I had the energy to ask if they've ever run six miles because maybe we just have different definitions of "almost".

Trust me - I know being a spectator is hard work. I've done it, and it's challenging. But take comfort in the fact that you're inspiring a runner to keep going, to push through the pain, and to meet their goals. My own cheering section and all of the spectators kept me going during the Marine Corps Marathon. And it turns out they were right - toenails ARE for sissies, and my feet did hurt from kicking so much ass.  

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