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!”
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.