Monday, July 2, 2012

Spectator Banter: Enjoy or Annoy?

I have spectated many marathons, half marathons and tris, as I’m sure you have too.

I remember watching the Denver Rock ‘n Roll Marathon with my kids in 2010. We were set up at about mile 23, when runners basically look and feel like dog turds. I know very well what mile 23 feels like in a marathon. Body parts you didn’t even know that you had, hurt. You are swearing up and down that not only will you never run a marathon again, but that you will never run again at all. Knitting a sweater while watching the Real Housewives sounds like a better plan.

I was happy to see my kids cheering on the runners, but when they started to say, “You’re almost there!” I had to intervene. The last three miles of a marathon feels like three thousand miles. You can’t be telling people they are almost there at that point. If you do, they might come back and punch you in the throat when they are able to walk again.

I do think about all of noise and comments spectators make at races. Usually when people tell me I’m looking strong I know they are trying to be nice, but I know they are lying. I do appreciate being told “Nice work!” because I love validation. And, when I am within a half mile of the finish line, it’s awesome to be told, “You’re almost there!” because those are very sweet and truthful words.

Here I am looking exceptionally strong, happy and energized. I’m sure someone yelled, “Looking good, girl in the WTF shirt!

image

My favorite comments are the ones directed at me and only me  - the really personal ones like “Hey 1496, you have a huge booger in your nose” or “Girl in the pink shirt, what’s that on your shorts? Did you soil yourself?” My favorite is, “Stop walking you pussy!” Really gets me going.

Probably my most hated line that a spectator ever said was in a marathon at mile 1. “Only 25.2 miles to go!” Uncalled for. I stopped and racked him.

This whole idea of spectator/volunteer comments and what we think of them was brought up by a reader. She wrote to me saying,

“Today I volunteered with a local sprint tri and would like to know-is it annoying or encouraging to hear “good job, keep it up” etc. from the volunteers as you round corners and all of that? Kinda felt like a ninny telling these muscular people they were doing a good job when I was just standing around.”

I don’t think it’s annoying at all. In fact, I SO appreciate that anyone would care enough to be out there at the ass crack of dawn on a weekend morning to cheer people on. I appreciate even MORE that volunteers have devoted their time to MY race. If for some reason I’m not into the crowd, that’s when I put in my ear buds. I had to do this at the Boston Marathon because at a certain point I just got too overwhelmed.

What do you all think? Are spectator comments uplifting or annoying?

When you spectate, do you yell and scream? YES. I get so wound up. I like to really encourage people who look three sheets to the wind because I know how that feels.

SUAR

102 comments:

  1. I yell and scream while spectating and full expect people spectating me to do the same. :) I HATE when people just stand there and stare like the are watching a parade. I hate "you're almost there" with a passion but just about everything else I know is well intentioned.

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  2. Oh my FAVORITE is to stand about .2 mile from the end of the race and then yelling
    *Hey (insert identifier such as "Person in purple, race #, etc.) you're _____ (smiling, laughing, don't look like you're dying), go catch _____ (and describe someone just in front of them) you can totally beat them. I can't tell you how many people actually do it.

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    1. This is awesome! I'm definitely going to do this the next time I "spectate". ;)

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    2. Yes, I love this one striding mom!

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    3. Some guy tried to pass me on the home stretch to the finish and a group of spectators on the side yelled at me to "chick" him, and "I'd better not let him beat me"....even though I wasn't competing against him, it worked...I chicked him

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  3. The races I run hardly ever have spectators...or ones who want to say anything to me.

    I appreciate volunteers anyways, but I REALLY appreciate them when they do say something encouraging, even if it otherwise annoys me. If a person who got up at the crack of dawn (or before) to set up a race and then is there cheering runners on, they could be *almost* swearing at me and I would love it!

    Um...confession: I haven't had a chance to spectate a race. However, I know I would cheer my friends on! I dunno if I would just cheer anyone on tho.

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  4. There's something magical about a stranger shouting at you when you're on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. When you're battling out just laying down to die and that switch gets flipped by someone else - that you can do it - you are doing it - and you're gonna finish it.

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    1. YES!! Couldn't agree more. It's the little things that help when you're about to die out there.

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    2. totally!!!!! you know one of my first races (5km) i was 40+ pounds heavier...and some amazingly fab fit woman comes running up to me...pats me on the shoulder and says good job, girl. You keep it up. You can do it. I mean WHO was she? just another runner who does what I now do to anyone i pass on a race now( and really i dont pass very many peeps!!!). That kind of comraderie is touching and meaningful.

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  5. I recently ran my first marathon - The Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon - the volunteers were so amazing with their personalized cheering and encouragement. For me it was almost as good as a hammer gel!! :)

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  6. I run races in a kilt. I hate it when they call my kilt a skirt. I want to punch them in the throat and say "ITS A KILT"

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    1. Lololol That would be hilarious if u ever did that

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    2. Props for running in a Kilt!

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    3. You need a t-shirt or race singlet telling them "it's a f*cking KILT".

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  7. I absolutely love the spectators and have realized that they make a huge difference in my running. I agree that there is nothing worse than running by people just standing there staring at the runners passing by without a peep. I understand that they are probably just waiting for their runner, but it wouldn't hurt to clap or something. Maybe even just smile! I enjoy reading signs that people make, it keeps me distracted and often makes me laugh. I saw a few at my last race that said "Worst Parade Ever". Got a chuckle out of a bunch of us.

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  8. I think I am in love with your WTF tank!! I love comments of any kind in a race, but being that I have a mind that loves humor I love off the wall comments. That is how I get through my runs a lot, by thinking about something completely silly. If I can chuckle i can make it the rest of the way. So if someone told me "Hey did you soil yourself", I would be laughing and it would get my mind off the miles I have left for awhile.

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    1. I also love the WTF tank. I am going to do my first marathon in November with a friend who convinced me we could do this. While I have run a couple half marathons, I think every day since I agreed to do a full marathon, "WTF!" I just have to have that on my shirt come race day!

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  9. As long as they don't say "your're almost there!" at mile 22, I'm good, and truly appreciate everyone.

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  10. Spectators, especially strangers (in other words, NOT my mom) rock my socks off! Mom's great, but having a complete stranger yell as loudly for me as she does is just plain AWESOME. I might even put a few fun nicknames (Chubs, especially) on a shirt so I don't just hear my name when we run our first full this fall. Also, I find it very hard to walk when someone is watching. Small, local races mean I often sneak a minute or two of walking, but when there's a crowd, I might slow down, but I can't walk with an audience.

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    1. Aw - i totally know what you mean but my parents (entire family actually) has little interest in my running. They are happy and all for me but not willing to get up at ass crack of dawn to root me on. (I did MAKE them thru pleading to come to my first half - they were at the finish by force…) I would fall over from the smile on my face ear-to-ear if I ever caught my mom cheering me on!!

      Strangers cheering us on means the world to me since that's about all I usually have out there!

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    2. Mine either. My husband has just recently started coming and it's pretty awesome. You couldn't drag my kids. They don't even remember I have races. oh...yeah...you had a marathon last week. yeah. how did that go? Hey, do you know where the Oreos are?

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  11. I just completed a Sprint Tri 2 weekends ago, it was a loop of sorts for the run and bike. While I was on my bike, and I was being passed by fancy road bikes {me on my hybrid} I cheered for everyone coming back at me. When I headed out for my run, some had finished and many were nearing the finish, I was 2nd to last but I continued to cheer. I later apologized {well it was not really a true apology} by saying, "Sorry if my cheering annoyed anyone, I am sure you will get over it" - I love hearing people cheer, the longest run I have ever done is a Half, but I am sure my mile 10, would be comparable to mile 23 {sorta} when you just wonder WTH you were thinking. Almost there at mile 12, well that will get a scornful glance but in the end *most* people mean well. Volunteers and spectators are the bomb for being out there when they really have little if anything invested in the event. It means a lot to have that pick me up, because sometimes it is just a kind word that lifts us enough to keep pushing. Do I want to be mocked? No, seriously, I'd probably punch someone in the throat if they said anything mean. I do feel I get a jolt of positive energy whenever there are a group of spectators, it makes me think "I'm going to look all impressive here"...lol Hey, it's not everyday you are out for a run and someone cheers you on!

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  12. This cracks me up.. couldn't have said better myself! Truth IS a funny (humorous) thing! My hubby and I have had a lot of laughs, between ourselves and sharing my marathon experiences with him as a spectator. Run on!

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  13. I love to hear spectator encouragement, even the misguided "you're almost there..." ones. As you mentioned, they're out there when they could be somewhere else, doing something for themselves. Thank you, volunteers and cheer-ers!

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  14. Agreed - mad props to spectators who literally stand along the course for hours screaming absurd encouragement. i wish i could go back to boston and hug the drunken college student who pointed at me from the curb and screamed "you're f*cking awesome" ... I'm confident that that alone got me through mile 20.

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  15. I love to volunteer at races - brings the good race mojo my way!
    Yes, I scream and holler the whole time ... I can pass water and ring a cowbell at the same time (got mad skills) - I have no problem losing my voice to keep my runners smiling! ALWAYS personalize the comment with their race rubber or reference to what they're wearing.
    No, I NEVER say 'You're almost there!" and I will censor anyone else at my water station who does.

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  16. Except for kids' runs, i've never spectated. But, i can say when i'm running, i'd like to flick my sweat at those who are just standing there holding a sign, picking their nails, looking bored. Whether it's a mile, a 5k, a 10k or longer, running is hard for many of us. If you don't want to be there to cheer us on, don't volunteer. If you're gonna heckle me, you BETTER hope you can run faster and linger than me because i will be running over to kick your butt.

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  17. I like signs better. In particular, during my first half marathon at Mile 10 when I hit the wall, no lie, a spectator held up a sign that said "Humpty Dumpty had wall issues too." Perfect sign. Perfect timing.

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  18. I love funny encouragement & people telling me the downhill is coming up!! Aint nothing wrong with spectating and yelling - I love it and it really has lifted my spirits in the past!

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  19. Agree, I also despise the "You're almost there" peeps. But LOVE the folks that yell "Good job" or "You got this". I ran my first marathon this last May (I've ran several half marathons prior to this) in Orange County, CA and there were high school cheerleaders at several points cheering for us. It was awesome! I loved it! I also love the gals with the funny signs that say stuff like "Marathoners do it till it hurts" or "Nipple chaffing turns us on"......love a good laugh when I'm in the midst of hell.

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  20. My favorite spectators (and the kind of spectator I always try to be) are the funny ones. You know, the folks who are handing out shots of beer and cracking jokes. It takes my mind off the pain for a moment. It's also the reason why my "Hugh Jass" shirt is now my designated race shirt. People are either very excited to yell it, or better, they yell the name and then pause at the realization of what they just said.

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  21. I volunteered at a tri (sprint & olympic) a few weeks ago and started at a transition area and then they moved us to the finish line before the first racer came in. I loved congratulating them all as they cross the finished line and some almost collapsing in front me. And it was people of all sizes. It was great to see people I knew cross the finish line and be able to congratulate them at the best point in the race. It was so awesome and so motivating I'm inching closer and closer to committing next year. I've already starting swimming in the lake.

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  22. I hate it when spectators tell me that I'm almost there and I still have 4 miles. Yes, that is less than half way (half mary), but it's not close enough. You're allowed to say that when I have .2 miles left.

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  23. I love spectators. I really love cowbells (when they are not being rung in my house by my kids). Signs are awesome. I actually like having my name on my shirt (or something identifiable) so that people can cheer for ME. I don't care if I don't know them. I was really bummed that I didn't write my name on my bib at Boston, because people were cheering for people by name that did. I was even more annoyed that when I wrote my name on my bib almost bigger than the number for the Derby mini 12 days later, not a certain person cheered for me by name, except for my neighbor that drove me, and happened to be crossing the course, walking back to the car, after he finished right in front of me. I did have one group of people yell out my sponsor, which was huge on my shirt, and they even mentioned it was great advertising, so I guess that is all that matters. My fav thing I ever heard was the guys cheering for the "6 pack abs lady" Unfortunately, that was not me :) She was right behind me, though, so I pretended it was me

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  24. No "you're almost done" hate, hate, hate it.

    However, I love "nice job" "you can do it" etc etc because it just gives me a little extra spring in my step even when I think I'm going to die.

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  25. LOVE the spectators. My fave was a BIG guy at mile 20 with a sign that said "If it was easy, I'd do it" I also like to encourage my fellow runners with "cute skirt" or "holy crap you're fast" (when speedsters blow past me) or "stay with it - you are stronger than all the suckers who have never raced" if I pass someone struggling. I also appreciate VERY ACCURATE reports of what is ahead - like ".5 mils left on this run and you are DONE. At the end I panic about how much longer, so this is a GREAT thing to tell me toward the end. The other sign I loved "Hey total stranger: you are a freakin' ROCK STAR!" - this was at mile 20 and I thought "you know, I sort of AM!"

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  26. I love spectators; they entertain me while I’m feeling like a running pile of dooky. The times that I’ve run the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay through some of the rural, farming towns of Fly-Speck, Utah, I find it interesting that the residence set up camp chairs on their porches, that kids offer high-fives to the runners as we pass, and quite often these folks try to offer encouragement. I especially loved the toothless old women in Liberty, Utah who called out that she wanted to bear my children… I just didn’t know how to react after running down a knee pounding 1000 vertical feet, of dirt road.

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  27. I think it's energizing to hear ppl scream but since i wear my headphones most times I just see ppl's mouths open, lol. Seeing masses of ppl support u is more uplifting for me than if there were barely any ppl around (which ive experienced)

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  28. I love when people cheer, volunteer, make signs - all of it! It really helps me get through tough parts of races. Some of the signs make me laugh too which is always good, like the "Did you pee your pants?" and "Worst parade ever" for some reason made me giggle!

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  29. I appreciate any person who takes the time to cheer us on, regardless of whatever stupid shit they might be saying (well, I'm thinking if there was a stain comment like the pink skirt, I might have to throw a finger). As for the volunteer corner hangers, I make sure to say thank you and smile at every one of them and will often drop the ear buds as I approach to give them my full attention & hear what they have to say.
    My favorite race experience was running recently in Lancaster, PA and having the little Amish kids sitting on their hay bales or rocks sheepishly waving - too cute! I wish I'd have taken pictures.

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  30. I like when they take the time to use my name "Katie~ you're awesome!" YES, YES I AM!!! I also like when people are cranking up the tunes...a guy at mile 5.5 of my first 10k was rockin' "Eye of the Tiger" and I think it saved my life!

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  31. Love the volunteers and the spectators but the next asshole that tells me I'm almost there and it is mile 45 of a a 112 mile bike ride or mile 9 of a marathon I am going to stop and karate chop their ass. It would be worth the few minutes and arrest at the end (b/c you know that cops won't catch me until I stop) to do that.

    Otherwise cheer and scream and put out the posters because they are a great distraction.

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  32. Raced the Chicago Urbanathlon and was nearing the finish when I felt a small upchuck try to break free. That usually only happens AFTER I cross the finish line, so I slowed until I could get it under control, then sped back up. I hit the gas too soon, and consequently felt my stomach began to heave. Past the point of no return, I ran to the side barricade, dropped to my knees, shoved bystanders back and proceeded to hurl. Was the crowd disgusted? On the contrary:

    "It's just pain leaving the body, baby!" "It makes you faster!" And my favorite, yelled by two hot women standing over me: "You 'effin rock!"

    The adventure-race crowd is a little more gnarly in their encouragement than your standard marathon onlookers.

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  33. I don't think I could think negatively about any spectator cheering people on....whether a runner themselves or not. They are there for a very selfless purpose and out there for someone that means something to them....waiting around for hours to see them only a few seconds at a time. THAT is dedication to family/friendship. They are great people.

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  34. I am always glad when anyone cheers for me. I know as a spectator at a huge marathon you can't cheer the entire time, but I see spectators out there who are clearly not going to waste a breath on anyone but their runner. They're missing out on all the good vibes and energy that flow both ways out there!

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  35. I get annoyed by "you're almost there!" If I can trip and still cross the finish line, then I am almost there.

    The only time I've truly been angry was at a race last summer and I was looking particulary haggard as I walked into an aid station. The volunteer there said that for $5 she'd drive me to the finish. I told her I was going to f***ing finish and left.

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  36. At my first ever marathon, at mile 1.5, a peppy high school cheerleader yelled at me, "YOU'VE GOT THIS!". Well, at mile 1.5, I was not at all sure I did in face have this, and I wanted to kick her in the pompoms.

    Love little kids with "FREE HUGS" signs, and I hug them every time.

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  37. I've only done a 5K so far, but I've been both a walker and a cheerleader for the Avon Walk, where I learned my favorite cheer of all time from a local kids' group:

    2, 4, 6, 8!
    Don't forget to urinate!

    I don't know yet if that's as pertinent to running races, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

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  38. I find it uplifting whether a stranger is holding up a sign of encouragement or yelling some positive cheer. I like a good "keep going...you can do it!" As long as it's positive I don't think it'd bother me, I'm just grateful they took time out of their day to try to help others through the race.

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  39. I like yelling and clapping a lot when I spectate. I used to worry that saying the same thing over and over again would get annoying to the competitors, then I realized...DUH...they are only hearing it from me for like 10 seconds max. No need to switch it up, just say it with feeling and support!

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  40. I love me some spectators and being one is cool too. I like to thank as many as I can, cause they so deserve a thank you!!! My worst sign I've ever seen was about mile 6 or so was "WOW 26.2 miles is a long way". I just blurted out no SHIT, and kept running. I live just outside of Orlando and its HOT as hell here but getting away, visiting family and going to a theme park will be a blast. Safe Travels.

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  41. I'd love the encouraging ones, but I would get more than annoyed at the negative comments. Like I tell my kids, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

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  42. Great timing! I just signed up to volunteer for a race on Saturday. It's a timed race (6 or 12 hours), so I definitely won't be yelling "you're almost there!"

    I'm a big fan of silly signs, fellow runners giving me encouragement (even as they're passing me), giving little kids high-fives, and the generic "looking good" even though I know I look like I'm about to die.

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  43. I LOVE it when the crowd cheers you on!! especially in the last half of the race!! What I can't stand is when people yell at you that you're almost there halfway thru, or that it's "all down hill from here" when you know that you still have the biggest hill ever to run up before you get to the finish!

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  44. I think non-runners truely do not understand that a long run can be both mentally and physically draining. I once posted this following a particularly hard run:

    To all those that completed the ______________ this morning: Congrats & Good Job! (Yay me!)
    To all those that organized it, directed traffic, passed out water, gatorade, and foods & cheered us on: Thank you!
    To those childish chubbies that stood on the corner pointing and laughing: STFU & run. It'll do you some good.

    YES I totally appreciate when people stand in the cold/rain/heat to cheer participants on. It's the cocky hecklers that I really dislike. It can be very discouraging, especially when my mind games are already in full swing.

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  45. It all depends on my mood. Most of the time I like almost anything the spectators are saying or doing.

    But a couple races when I've been deep in my own world trying to keep moving, I don't want to spend anything on the world outside, other than watching the race course itself. I don't want to notice spectators, cops stopping traffic, the weather, anything.

    When I'm feeling better I'll thank the volunteers, or say hi, or on a loop course that I'll see them again. Just about anything they say is all good.

    That said, there are a couple things that hit my hot button. "Good job" or "good work". Bah. I get paid to work. This is fun, most of the time. "Almost done" from any place further than about a mile from the finish line. People trying to high or low 5 me. Don't like it a bit.

    I don't mind "Looking good" even when I'm not. Which is most of the time.

    What I like to hear? Any variations of Keep going, looking strong, next aid station is around the corner (or wherever), traffic is stopped come on through, or other helpful things about the course (watch the curb). Even just clapping or waving as I go by.

    Not a big spectator person, if I'm there I'll likely volunteer. Which doesn't stop me from cheering on people I know.

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  46. I was participating in a St Patty's Day 10k this past March. I am not the fastest, usually finishing around 15min/mile... this particular race I was in the very last place out of 250ppl.(someone has to come in last right?)

    As I am running towards the finish I notice there are a few people standing directly in the race lane, talking amongst themselves and the volunteers are cleaning up the flags that dictate the finish line, and the awards area, because awards have all been given out. I pushed my way through the small crowd, as I was crossing the finish line an older male volunteer says to me "the 5k would've been a better choice, eh?".

    I was stunned. Another runner (female) overheard him and came to my defense saying "no, the 10k was fine, she rocked it!" and she slapped my hand as I gave an embarrassed smile, too tired to talk or get into with the older man.

    While I was in the car riding home I was so frustrated we myself for not telling that man off/where to shove it. I know he is a volunteer, and I appreciate most volunteers, but his remark was so uncalled for, and not humorous in anyway shape or form. Obviously, at 3 1/2 months later, I am still bitter about it.

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    1. I swear I'm perimenopausal but this made me cry; not what he said but the other runner saying you rocked it. I so would have told that A-hole that you ran circles around his lazy ass! You did rock it!

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    2. I feel bad that he obviously does not get it. The beautiful thing about running is that everyone has their own goal. Some people run against time, their last time, a friend or sometimes just to finish. I wish I could send you the email I sent Beth, it was too long to post on here. Similar situation this weekend, completely uncalled for. No one has the right to make you feel bad about yourself! Use it to motivate you. I started running at 33 because a friend made a condescending remark that I would fare less than average on a 5K not being an athlete like her. I used it to motivate myself to run a little farther than I did the day before. Guess who came in first? The people at the 5K and their cheering for everyone regardless of age or time was remarkable. I was hooked. 14/15 min/mile is not a bad or a slow time - it's courage and perseverance, two things that many people lack. The first time I run any race my goal is just to finish it and improve my time at the next one.

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    3. (original Anonymous- I should probably set up a user name to ward off confusion) Thank you Valorie D (my name is Valerie too!) & Anonymous #two!

      I was really grateful for the female runner who came to my defense. It was my 2nd time participating in the St Patty's day 10k, and I my goals were to finish and to improve my time, which I did by 3 minutes! Go me- 01:27:18 (2011) 01:24:12 (2012) :)

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    4. Can I just say, "What an asshole!"

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  47. My absolute favorite was my first marathon done this past May. One of the volunteers met me just before the half way mark and brought me food. Made sure he got my name and periodically while he rode his bike along the course would say "Valorie, how are you feeling?, You're doing great" For a old slow polk like me, it really meant the world. I only beat 19 other people in that marathon but that kind of encouragement is what helps people keep moving forward.

    "Almost there" at mile 17 made me want to kick someone in the nuts....

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  48. I LOVE this post because I talk about it with my husband and best friend all of the time... I HATE when they tell me I am looking strong because I know in reality I look like death - so at my last marathon (on my birthday!) He told me I looked "able-bodied" I laughed so hard!

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  49. All depends on the comment and my mood. Catch me feeling really down and say "you're almost there" and I might punch you. I know people always mean well, so in the end, we should all just bite our tongues. But sometimes...

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  50. I love marathon banter! When it's negative, it makes me angry and run faster and when it's positive and i know they are lying it's even better. Who doesn't want to be called a goddess when they look like a drowned rat?

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  51. Bravely, I signed up for the Warrior Dash with my husband and a few neighbors during the winter (during a blizzard) and drinking a Diet Coke. The Warrior Dash was this past Saturday in 85 degrees and high humidity at 9am held at a local ski area. In looking at the slopes, I thought, I cannot run or Chubby Shuffle those, but I am going to Teacher Walk the heck out of them and in my mind, I did. It was the most physically difficult thing I had done since birthing, but everyone was having fun. Some dressed up and the positivity of the volunteers, paramedics and the super athletes who were going balls out up the slopes and through the obstacles, was amazing. Insert “Captain Jack Ass” at the top of the last slope shouting. “Hey fatty in gold, 4 minutes and you will finish in under an hour!” with beer in hand thinking his super tan and Hollister extra small T-shirt made him look 15 years younger and super fit. All he managed to accomplish was looking like “that guy”. I was so angry, I asked him to join us to which he declined. Pretty boy’s bald tan head was now bright red and he stated that he wouldn’t want to show us up. I countered with “Oh pretty, are you afraid to get your ass kicked by a girl and lose running downhill or crawling under barbed wire through mud? Perhaps you should spend that time working on social skills and find some self-esteem that keeps you from bullying others who are accomplishing something you clearly don’t have the ability to do.”
    When people run, they run for their own goals. My goal was to finish that day without passing out, as many did. It is more important to me to help a fellow runner escape a jerk who called them fat than to improve my time. At the end of the race a runner thanked me and hugged me because “No skinny person had ever stood up for me before.” I was speechless for so many reasons. 1. I am not skinny and I don’t think I have ever been called that (5ft 7in, 155lbs), 2. She ran in a super hero costume, tights and all- she was far more “Warrior” than I ever was. I told her- No one has the right to make you feel bad about yourself, you are an amazing person. You keep on running or walking or whatever kind of exercise you enjoy, your hard work will pay off. She said it’s hard and I said I know, I was 211 at my heaviest and I’m an eater. I do I love chips and Diet Coke, but because I run I can have a little every now again. I keep to high protein/low carbs and I am realistic about what is good for me. I will never be skinny, but what I focus on is being fit.
    Sorry this is so long. I love your blog and how real you are about things. I wasn't sure if what I did what right or wrong; it was some what of a fun run and what his words did to her- I couldn't help myself. In my defense what came out of my mouth was the clean version of what was in my head.

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  52. I ALWAYS love spectator cheers. Nothing is worse than being in a world of hurt and running by people who just stare at you in your misery, lol.

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  53. Volunteers and spectators are great. Yes, some make inappropriate comments. And yes, some don't even know they are doing it. I just let it go. I'm not running for them, I'm running for me.
    I'm also the runner who, when approaching a contingent of spectators not making noise, will ask for cheers. Works every time!
    When I started running, I was passed a bit and always felt that those "good job" comments were weird and wondered if people were making fun of me. Then my Ironman buddy assured me that those passing me were really trying to encourage. You need that in the summer in VA. So I learned to smile and say thank you. And when I pass people, I try to encourage them.

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  54. I yell and clap a lot when spectating, and love bringing my kids along (I taught them early on to please not yell "You're almost there!")

    I so appreciate spectator cheers, and especially the volunteers! It's amazing what a lift you can get from a strangers encouraging words!

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  55. I think it depends on your state of mind when you pass. If you just want to curl in a little ball and die, having someone yell 'looking good' really isn't that inspirational. But I haven't liked that phrase since little girls who work in clothing shops tried to con me into buying something wildly inappropriate and unattractive. I generally just clap and say well done and leave it at that.

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  56. I loved this post (and the photo). I too think it depends on how I'm feeling at the time. When I'm the one cheering though, I try to think of how I'd feel receiving certain comments so usually stick to "way to go" or something like that. Mostly I clap and woo hoo though! I love reading the race signs though along a route. I usually find they make me smile regardless of how crappy I'm feeling.

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  57. I like hearing encouragements like "you can do it" "way to go" "you rock". When I am running and hubby is with the kids near the finish the kids (aged 7 and 8) like to give high-fives and tell everyone good job or nice running. I do not like hearing almost there until I am almost there.

    I ran a half in CA a man dressed as a jester was at the start line holding a sign that said .1 down, only 13 more to go! After every person started he ran the half and stood at the finish holding a sign that said 13 down, only .1 to go. He had a large group of supporters dressed as jesters and ringing cowbells and they stood there supporting everyone until the last runner came through. I loved his enthusiasm and it was the only time I liked being told almost done at almost the start.

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  58. Your WTF pic reminded me of this other pic on another blog I peek at from time to time. http://allensroadtoboston.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/the-road-back-begins/ I guess I have not participated in enough races to deal with being offended by hecklers, but I don't mind really what people say. I know they are trying to be funny/motivating/whatever and sometimes they are irritating/motivating/whatever depending on my mood. And I would rather have someone out there cheering/heckling/whatever instead of a long boring race without anyone for miles.

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  59. I can't say I remember any cheering spectators at any race other than the HIM and IM here. 10Ks are usually totally empty except for we racers and then at the finish there is family. At our local IM (Cozumel) the crowd support will bring tears to your eyes. You have kids shaking plastic bottles with rocks in them and waiters running out of restaurants to cheer you on. I even (as I was wearing a Mexico kit) had officials very slyly encourage me as the passed on their motos. Outside a large IM, it would be very strange to have spectators. Even our local marathon is pretty empty. I imagine DF marathon (Mexico City) might have some, I dunno. Still would be weird. :)

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  60. What I really appreciate is when spectators tell me my place and how far behind I am - or how close someone is behind me. I've run entire races not knowing I was fourth. And as we all know, fourth is worse than last!

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  61. I like hearing hoots and cowbells. I consider "Keep it up!" and "You Got This!" (or "You. Friggin. Got. This." a la EMZ) appropriate remarks. Specific remarks, like trying to tell a participant to pick up the pace when she or he has chosen to walk, would be unwelcome, in my book!

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  62. i totally appreciate it when i hear people cheering runners on...even the dreaded 'you're almost there' cheer! i figure no harm, no foul...and most of the spectators are likely not runners who wouldn't know any better. at least they're out there in the rain/cold/heat! there's been many a time when i've felt like dying and i hear someone yell my name and it instantly gives me a lift. the best thing are funny signs...love it when i see those, i saw a few hilarious ones at the half i just ran, i actually laughed out loud! they were perfectly placed too, at a particularly bitchy part of the race over a long and gradual bridge...it was awesome!

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    Replies
    1. sorry, forgot to add another piece...when i was running down the last hundred metres at my first marathon, i still remember the cheers of spectators who i didn't know, and it still brings tears to my eyes when i think of it!

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  63. I used my bike to cheer at multiple spots for a few friends at a small, local 12.1 mile road race. I yelled fun things when I stopped like: I have been following this parade for 6 mile now and all that has been thrown is paper cups, where is the candy.

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  64. At the 2012 Phila. Broad St. Run, at every water station, there was some guy handing out water and asking silly questions to the women running, "Hey, are you wearing underwear?" or something along those lines. I took it upon myself to reply to him, "Never!"
    It started a sort of wave of volunteers asking us to shout out silly responses to questions, got us through the race, and of course, everyone loved my "SHUT UP AND RUN!" shirt! It helps that people are there, cheering us on, and since I haven't done more than a 10-miler, I don't mind someone telling me I am almost there. I don't like the idea that at mile one someone would inform me that there are only XX number of miles left, I think I would find a way to get away from them.
    Amy P. (Phila Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon First Timer)

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  65. I love it. I tend to smile a lot and never push myself super hard, so even at the end of my half when I was hurting, volunteers were still cheering me on for smiling. I loved that.

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  66. The nicest thing anyone ever said to me in a race was "Kick it's ass number XXX". I thought, YEAH! I was on mile 22 of 26.2 and really needed to hear that. I was having a really bad race and wasn't sure I'd make it but that cheer spurred me on.

    I once cheered a girl on who was running her first 5K. She was one of the slower folks so when I finished I went back to the .2 mark and waited for her to come along. It was cold and I was freezing but I wanted to be there for my newly found runner friend. I cheered like crazy running along with her as she crossed the line. She gave me a big hug. We traded business cards but never really kept in touch. One day about a year later, I got an email from her saying that my coming back to cheer her on changed her life. She felt like a real runner. She dropped 30 pounds and went on to run half and full marathons. She thanked me for taking the time to make a difference for someone else. I CRIED reading that! Confirmation that positive reinforcement of folks who are truly struggling in a race can make a big difference.

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  67. I ran my first marathon last month, and (it was a struggle but) the spectators were great. There was one very energetic woman somewhere around the 10K mark, and as I ran past I thought, "That's my kind of spectator" (the ones who stand there and stare vacantly kind of irritate me, honestly -- if I'm running X miles, the least they can do is pretend to clap, right?).

    Twelve or fifteen miles later, by which point I hurt quite a bit, there was the same woman again, a total stranger, cheering me on (by name, as names were printed on the bibs) with as much energy as she had at the 10K mark.

    It sounds kind of odd to say this, but it was one of the absolute highlights of the day -- that this woman I didn't know (who may well have been out there cheering for a friend, I don't know) took the time to cheer all morning and into the afternoon, and was going at it full force.

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  68. I sooooo appreciate all the folks who come out to cheer! My favourite spectator was one I saw while running the Chicago Marathon. I was tired, hurting and discouraged when I saw a pleasant looking man with a sign that read "Dear Stranger, I'm so proud of you!" A moment later, our eyes met and he smiled encouragingly. He'll never know just how much I appreciated his support! His message and smile carried me a long way that day.

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  69. As long as it's not "you're almost there", nearly every other cheer is welcome! I might not *believe* it when you say "lookin' good", or "looking strong!", but it's nice to hear, and who doesn't like "You've got this, you can do it!"?
    What I *really* like, though, is banter with other runners, so it bums me out that so many people use music during a race and can't chat! There's nothing like "who put this stupid hill at mile 12?!" to get people laughing a little and cheering you up in the last mile. My favorite ever was a half I did this spring, where it was going into mile 12 and (sure enough!) there was a hill, and I was pooped, and girl beside me who I was barely passing was pooped, but she used what little breath she had to gasp out "go!" and it made me feel like I couldn't let her down! I wheezed back, "you, too!", and then took on that damned hill!
    Never underestimate the power of a good pep talk!

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