As someone who has actually gone out to spectate at a race just because there were people running and I had an idea for a pithy little sign, let me just say people who watch marathons are pretty awesome. There was an article posted today in Jezebel about marathon spectators, “The People Who Watch Marathons” and I’d just like to say one thing about it: just because you’re a runner, doesn’t mean you’re precluded from being a spectator and cheerleader, even though she kinda doesn’t talk about this. The point: go out and cheer on other runners. It’s fun and they’ll appreciate it and you’ll have a really good time.
Case in point: the Fitness 1/2 marathon.
In lieu of the traditional race recap where I tell you how I made the hills my bitch and had an amazing race that was a PR let’s instead turn our attention to the spectators along the route.
As a women’s race, there were lots of signs cheering mommy on in her 1/2 marathon–people there to see their wife/daughter/mother/sister/BFF run in addition to the usual large group of female runners running together. The award for best spectator/on course motivational speaker goes to a woman wearing a Black Girls Run shirt who magically appeared at the top of every hill to yell, “keep going! keep pushing! you got this!” If you’re a black girl and you run and you aren’t a part of this group look it up, not only do they have a nifty color scheme (black and hot pink) but they’re a really nice group of ladies at races.
The two loops around central park included runners going out for their regular runs who also joined in cheering on the people in the race… And oh yeah, at mile 6 I got to be a spectator/runner as I watched Deena Kastor and Aziza Aliyu run past towards the mile 13 marker! They were literally feet away and as they were coming you could hear people cheering, followed by the bicyclists yelling “move to the left! lead runners coming!” A lot of women bitched about this but I was too busy cheering to be bothered giving them a disapproving scowl.
The families tended to be congregated along the south side of the park, from about 63rd St. on the West Side to the Met on the East side. High fives were given to children along the way, of course, and the biggest crowds were at the finish line. After crossing, I turned around to high five the women who finished around me, congratulating them on a great race. Someone did that to me last week at the Colon Cancer Challenge 15k and it’s something I’d like to make a tradition.
I walked out of the park and stopped to cheer on some ladies who were just getting to the mile 11 marker–“No, really, there aren’t any more hills!” before heading out onto 69th st and walking up to the Dakota to meet my parents. My cheering section was doing so from a diner 5 blocks away over a plate of home fries, pancakes, and an egg white omelette. My sister followed me during the marathon, but my family hasn’t been the type of spectator to come with signs in hand and vocally cheer people on the way I’ve enjoyed doing during the Marine Corps and Rock n Roll marathons.
Ever since my first half, actually, I tell my mother to stay away from the finish line. During my first half instead of cheering for me as I finished, she jogged the last 1/10th of a mile yelling how she had just finished running 13 miles and hadn’t broken a sweat. All while wearing ballet flats and jeans. I’ve got pictures of her doing it, they’re pretty funny, but she’d kill me if I posted them.
So, all in all, a pretty good race with some excellent freebies and my first ever foil blanket! Though no meeting Sami Brady, which was quite the let down. The advantage of doing this one instead of the Manhattan 1/2 which is the same course is that you pay extra to do it at a warmer time of year (April instead of January) and if you’re into doing women’s races it has that. You know, power to the she and all that crap.
It’s not on my list of must repeat races. If I’m in town and really want to do a half, I guess I’d do it (it doesn’t fill up fast at all and was still open a week or so before the race). The course is friendly for friends/family coming to watch since it’s a double loop so the kids don’t have to be moved and it’s all easily accessible. But save your registration and go for the Superhero–it’s got the hills and two loops but the costumes make it just a little more fun especially if you’ve younger kids in tow.
Now, go hug a race spectator and volunteer.