Dear Race Spectator:
You are the lifeblood of any racing event. Unbeknownst to you, you have the ability to make a break a race. Your presence on the course signifies nothing but good things to come when I pass by you. To make this experience the best for both of us, there are a few ground rules you should be aware of.
Cheering. Even if you don’t know the person running by, scream like you do! Especially you fellas. Take advantage of being able to scream semi-lewd (don’t go all out, please) things at girls as they run by. This is probably one of the few places you can yell “Hey! Girl in the skirt, you’re looking great!” and not be punched in the face.
“You’re almost there!” Do not, under any circumstance, say this to a racer unless they are entering the finisher’s chute and are about to cross the finish line. I realize that you are attempting to be motivational but nothing can take the wind out of someone’s sails quicker then hearing that knowing they still have several miles to go before crossing the finish line. Try using these instead: “You’re doing amazing,” “Way to go,” “Looking strong/good/great/fantastic,” or if words fail you, don’t use words – just scream like a crazy person. It’s ok to lie to us, we know we most likely look like death.
High-fiving. Sticking out your hand is one of the single most beneficial actions you can do for tired and weary racers. But please be aware that when you stick your hand out, you do so at your own risk because I am going to high-five you and my hand will most likely be covered with a mixture of sweat and/or snot. I’m sorry it’s gross, but it’s true. Please don’t stop high-fiving; it’s like an instant energy transference with each slap of the palm. Just make sure to have hand sanitizer readily available.
Alternative race course beverages. If you’re passing out beer on the course, don’t get offended when I run by and don’t grab one. While I would love to stop and toss one back with you, it’s just not a good idea. Like drinking and driving, rest assured that bad things will happen if I drink and run. So out of respect for my fellow runners, I will always opt out. But don’t stop offering it, I need that mid-race laugh that always comes from being offered a drink. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll take you up on it.
Cowbells. This is a 50/50 thing. Some runners hate them, some love them. I fall into the latter of the two so bring on the bell! Yes, it may seem annoying to you to have to ring the bell for 2-4 hours but for the few seconds that I pass by, I assure you it’s totally worth it.
Race signs. Yes, please! Give me something to distract me from what I’m doing. And the funnier, more original the sign is the better reaction you’ll get from me. When selecting the slogan for your sign, please don’t use the following: “Worst parade ever” or “Making this sign was hard, too”. I promise 500 other spectators will have the same phrase. The best sign I’ve ever seen was during the Marine Corps Marathon and it read “No more Saturday long runs means Friday next sex again.” Haaa-larious, I tell you. And true.
Music. If you’re going to play music along the course just make sure that it’s something very upbeat. Now is not the time to break out your secret stash of Michael Bolton CD’s. Think more of 80s rock (Joan Jett, AC/DC, Madonna) or current hits (LMAO, Pitbull, Pink). Just be prepared to witness lots of fist pumping, awkward run/dancing, and some really bad karaoke.
In closing, thank you for your support on the course. If you follow the above advice, you will ensure that both your and my race experience is the best it can be!
P.S. – We really do LOVE you!
Question: If you could give any advice to a spectator, what would it be?