We are back from an exciting marathon weekend down in Baltimore. The guys did great – all finished and I’m so proud of them. Joe is working up a guest post marathon recap – I am allotting him a few days to fully “reflect” on the race – stay tuned.
As for me, I had a fantastic time as a race fan! I must say, running so many races has allowed me to become a pretty efficient spectator. Allow me to share some tips.
How to Be a Kick-Ass Spectator
1) Wake up early to help with prep: Especially if you’re staying in a hotel, race prep can be tricky. We packed some of Joe’s favorite pre-race fuel from NaturaStride, including Rokit Fuel and Picky Bars. We heated up the water for his Rokit Fuel in the coffee maker (with no coffee). However, when we woke up, we realized that we didn’t have a spoon (for Rokit Fuel) or knife (for peanut butter) so I went on a 5:30 AM hotel hunt to find some cutlery. Whatever it takes to ease the pre-race jitters.
2) Have a Plan: Marathon courses can be tricky, and if you actually want to SEE your runners, it’s best to plot out spots along the course other than the packed start and finish. Also, it’s a huge mental boost for the runners if they know they have someone waiting for them throughout the course at certain mile markers. I was able to plot out spots so that I could see all the guys at the Start, Mile 7.5, Mile 13.5, Mile 26, and at our family meeting spot.
3) Be Prepared with “The Backpack”: If you are dropping the runners off at the start, and planning on meeting them at the finish, be willing to carry around stuff they may need pre and post race. Potential items include extra safety pins, pre/post race extra clothing, hand sanitizer, Vaseline, paper towels, flip flops, band aids, Picky Bars, bananas, water, etc.
4) Wear comfortable and recognizable clothing: If you have an aggressive spectating strategy, you may find yourself walking – a LOT. I probably walked 5 miles on Saturday. So wear comfy shoes. Also, whenever I race – I usually see my spectators before they see ME. So try and wear something they’ll be able to recognize – like a bright blue jacket, red hat, and striped scarf.
5) Pack snacks for yourself: Unless your marathoner is an elite athlete, you may be out there for quite a few hours! Don’t neglect your tummy. I packed an apple and a ProBar for my own enjoyment. I may or may not have also stopped by a candy shop for some penny candy. What.
6) Have something to do during down-time: So, my last spot mid-course that I saw the guys was mile 13.5, which means I had about 2 hours to kill until the finish. I just started reading The Kite Runner so brought my Nook along for the day. But honestly, I spent most of the down-time cheering on other runners (besides my guys) because it is just so much fun to me.
7) Be prepared to take amazing race photos! Every runner wants a bas-ass race-day photo of themselves. Have your camera out, on, and ready. Check out these shots I got:
8) Actually cheer on the runners! So, obviously you’ll cheer on the people you went to watch. But cheer on the other runners, too!! I was kind of shocked that at the mile markers I was at, many of the other spectators weren’t cheering or clapping at all, unless they saw their runner go by. I was clapping and cheering the whole time! THESE PEOPLE ARE RUNNING 26.2 MILES! One of the best parts about racing is the fan support and I know how much it’s appreciated.
9) Know what to say (and what not to say!): So, when I was cheering at mile marker 7.5, the runners were going down a nice downhill. So I was yelling to them, “NICE JOB! ENJOY THE DOWNHILL!” but then I realized… maybe that’s not the best thing to say because it might insinuate that there is an uphill ahead (haha?) So I switched up my mantra to “NICE JOB! YOU LOOK STRONG!”
10) Know your finish line meeting spot - and be there! We all agreed to meet at letter “F” at the finish line family meeting zone. There’s nothing worse than finishing a race, finding your meeting zone, but none of your friends or family are there yet because they’re wandering around the festival.
11) Know where the medical tent is. Just in case.
12) Be willing to hug sweaty finishers. They’re emotional. They want to hug someone.
13) Get them some grub after the race! And a round of beers! So we made it back to our hotel around 1:00pm but the guys did not want to walk to find food. I offered to get them some greasy grub from a deli I walked by earlier during my spectating. I think they appreciated it. Joe enjoyed a cheeseburger, fries, and cherry coke in bed. After they all showered and napped for a few hours, we hit the town for some Mexican food and beers, and reminisced about the race. I love hearing racing stories – which are even better when told over a couple Blue Moons.
That’s all I’ve got! What other spectator advice do you have?