I suspect I have maybe a little too much fun cheering for people during the Marine Corps Marathon. This was my second year hanging out on the course and I can say with absolute certainty that at least 95-99% of the people who participated in this event ran past me at some point and had me cheering for them.
You’re welcome, runners.
A tradition I have is seeing the last runner go by, and this year I continued my commitment to this tradition by parking myself on the 14th Street Bridge a few feet before the mile 20 marker. It’s a pretty amazing place to see people during a marathon. The mile 20 marker is where they are just breaking down. Men’s nipples bled through their shirts. People had slathered themselves in sunscreen and hadn’t even bothered rubbing it in. There was limping, hobbling, and the walk of someone whose hips had just tightened up so much they could barely move one leg in front of the other.
I loved cheering for them. I loved yelling out their names, “SU-SAN! SU-SAN!” A lot of people turn and wave back to you or give you a thumbs up. I also enjoyed seeing people who were like, “f–k the wall, I’m negative splitting this!” and they were powering right over that bridge and the big grin that came over their faces when I started cheering for them. “Look who’s ready to start passing people up! KEEP IT UP, DENISE! You’ve got the good kind of negative!” I saw a guy’s friend had joined in to help him out and I said, “That man is running in JEANS for you! That is LOVE.”
I make a point of staying for the people who are the absolute dead last. If you guys haven’t seen the tail end of a marathon pack, at some point you need to stick around and see it. No one has more guts than to go out and run with a car following them just waiting to pick them up at mile 20, when the crowds have vanished, there’s garbage all over the street, and the aid stations are completely depleted. I’ve seen this a couple of times and it’s usually one person going it alone. That person, my friend, gets nice loud cheers from me.
So, if you ran Marine Corps this weekend and saw a girl in a purple sweatshirt sitting on a road divider on the 14th Street Bridge and occasionally singing, “hurts so good, c’mon baby make it hurt so good, sometimes love don’t feel like it should…” I hope you had a good time. And no, I didn’t let anyone borrow my bike.