How are you guys doing this lovely Tuesday morning? Last Sunday, I went to cheer my friend Katie on at The Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Everett, WA. Since I didn’t actually participate in the run, I couldn’t do a typical race recap, but I thought it would be cool to give you all some tips I’ve learned along the way on how to be an awesome race spectator in case you decide to spectate at a race in the future. I actually really enjoy spectating at races and this one was even more fun that usual because I was able to meet up with Katie three different times along the race course AND at the finish line thanks to some lovely race officials that gave me a ride from the around mile 10 to the finish line. I was BEYOND grateful they offered to give me a ride. It was a race day miracle because otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get some photos of Katie PRing for her race recap! It was also really awesome to see some of the same runners at different parts of the race, develop a rapport with them and see them cross the finish line at the end. Definitely time well spent on a Sunday morning!
So here are some of my tips on how to be an awesome race spectator. Enjoy! 🙂
Cheer runners on by name!
Look to see if the race bibs have the runners names on them and try to cheer on people individually. Some runners will also write their name on their arms or on their shirts so keep and eye out for that too. It means so much to hear people cheering for you by name on the race course and really gives you that extra boost of energy to keep going.
Don’t say “You’re almost there!”
Even if they are close to the finish, this is the ultimate mess with your mind thing to say to a distance runner. The last 5k of a half are the hardest 3.1 miles of the entire race. Even though they’ve covered way more than that in distance already, this makes runners think for a split second that they are closer to the finish line than they really are. No bueno. (Side note: the time on the top of the mile marker in this photo did not reflect our actual time. These started when the first person started and I was in something like Corral N, meaning I started WAY in the back.)
Stay off the race course!
Even Donald would have been mad if I had gotten in his way during his half marathon! 🙂 Don’t cross the race course unless there is enough time for you to get across the road without impacting the time of the upcoming runners. There is nothing worse as a runner than having to slow down to wait for someone to cross the street. It can take awhile to get back on pace and in the zone after having to slow down and can have a negative impact on the rest of their race. Also, make sure that as a spectator that you are far enough away from the side of the course that you’re not in the way of the runners. Just take a step or two back. You can still see your friends from there and get great pictures without being in the way.
Have extra goodies on hand for your friends.
No! Not those kinds of goodies! Maybe save the PBR glass full of wine until AFTER the race but do have extra water and energy gels on hand in case the course doesn’t have adequate water stations or you friends didn’t pack enough energy gels to keep them going. They probably won’t need them, but they are nice to have on hand just in case. It could be a life saver for the outcome of their run. I’ve also heard of people handing out red licorice and other candy on the race course to the other racers as they run by. I think this is a nice gesture and I know some runners really like this, but I feel a little weird about providing fuel or receiving fuel as a runner from a stranger. Maybe that’s just me though.
Make funny race signs.
I’m obsessed with funny race signs, so I always try to think of something funny for my signs. I usually do one side specific to the people I’m cheering on and then on the back side, I make it something more generic and funny to make the other runners smile. My go to favorite is “Free High-Five Station.” It always makes people laugh and some will either give you an air high-five or actually come over to give you a high-five. I actually had a runner stop to take a picture of me with my sign at this run! Just make sure to pack hand sanitizer since you’ll be touching a lot of sweaty hands!
Know the course.
Runners always appreciate people cheering for them, but they especially appreciate the encouragement during or at the end of a hard leg of the race. Try setting up in the middle or at the top of a hill.
Here are some of my favorite finish line crossing moments. I loved how these friends/family members ran the race together as a team and crossed holding hands. Maybe that’s just me getting a little sentimental, but finishing what is possibly a lot of these runners first half marathons is a BEYOND HUGE deal, so I thought it was awesome they could cross the finish line with their support system.
Questions of the Day:
Do you like spectating at races?
What’s your favorite tip for spectating at races?
What’s the next race you have coming up?
Linking up to Mcm Mama Runs!