I want to preface this post with how proud I am of Pam and everyone else who completed the 26.2 miles through New York City this past Sunday. Running a marathon is not an easy task; it takes weeks of training and lots of discipline. All of your hard work comes down to one day of eating bagels, running miles, and drinking water. On the other side, there are your family and friends who have listened to you talk non-stop about running, missed you because your long run was the next morning; but then it’s finally race week and they have no problem indulging in some empathetic carb loading. It’s time we talk about the other side of running a marathon, the real heroes here: the spectators.
As a runner, I understand how great that feeling is when you spot your friends and family along the race course. It gives you a surge of energy to keep powering on even if the course is tough. Knowing that you have people there supporting you is one of the greatest feelings! This is why I want to share some tips on how to be the best spectator on race day.
Let’s rewind to Saturday, when the #PamSquad received an email with the game plan for race day. Now I enjoy being on time to things and having a plan, but Pam is the Type A- ready to go- spreadsheets on deck- kind of organized. With that being said, she already told us where to go, but it was our responsibility to be there for her aka don’t blow it.
Tip #1 Establish your #CheerSquad. Who is going to come and watch the race? Where is the first meeting point? Who has the orange juice and who is bringing champagne? It is 9AM ya know. Establish who is going to be at which points along the course and who is meeting up where.
Tip #2 Have a plan. As a spectator, saying you’ll be “near the finish” is not enough. Let your runners know at which points they should be looking for you. Try to map out several points along the course where you will be cheering and allow yourself enough time to travel between points. The worst thing is to miss your runner! The #PamSquad had directions written out from each point with estimated travel times. Even better- there was a separate spreadsheet that had her estimated pace listed with an approximate time of day. Side note: many races also have an app for that where you can track your runners in real time!
Tip #3 Know the course. For the NYC Marathon, runners are cruising through all 5 boroughs. It’s important to know where your runner will be and approximately what time they should hit that marker. We were on and off the subways all day to make sure we got to each “Pam Point” on time. It is important to review the course ahead of time to make sure you aren’t near a busy medical tent or at a water stop with cups flying everywhere. Let your runner know if you will be on their right or left so they can slide to that side as they approach your check-in points.
Tip #4 Be Visible. “I’ll be in a blue hat” won’t be enough to help find you on the sidelines. Neon posters are a great start! I personally love reading the funny things people write as I’m running. This year we upgraded from posters to Pam faces. Some oversized Pam heads on a stick were just what she needed to find us in the crowd!
Tip #5 Pack Prosecco. Need I say more? You’re not running and it’s going to be a long day of adventuring around the race route- better stock up! Over the course of the day, I managed to rack up about 25,000 steps (according to my FitBit). We were up and down subway stairs, weaving through people, and sprinting to make it to the finish line in time.
Special treat! Here is some live coverage of the NYC Marathon!
What other tips do you have for spectating? How has your cheer squad motivated you all the way to the finish line?