Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tips on Spectating a Race

Now, please hear me out - I am NOT saying that I am a professional spectator (especially seeing as I only officially spectated my FIRST race a few weeks ago), but as part of the BEST CHEERING STATION AT THE LA MARATHON (voted on by the 4 of us in our cheer squad) as well as running numerous races myself, I thought I would throw out some tips if you were ever planning on spectating a race (which I highly, highly, HIGHLY suggest) that you may not automatically think about.

1. Signs

Making a sign specific to the race or current events is KEY. Obviously there are still great generic ones, but the ones that stand out tend to be the ones that are particular to that area or time.

For example, a couple days before the Phoenix Marathon two llamas were running around Phoenix. Apparently it was a slow news day, so quite a few news channels were covering the malarkey. Soon after, the Twitter-sphere got a hold of the #LlamaDrama and hilarity ensued. Well, hubby decided his Phoenix Marathon sign would be a hand drawn picture of a llama (yes, he is a very talented artist). Someone with the Phoenix Marathon actually saw him making it and took his picture (which was featured on both their Twitter and Instagram accounts).

Source: @PhoenixMarathon's Twitter Feed

When we were spectating the LA Marathon, Michael came up with a couple location specific signs. LA residents totally understood the "At least you aren't sitting on the 405" sign and the fan favorite was "Even PRETTY WOMEN cried on Rodeo Dr" (which was PERFECT since we were on the corner of Rodeo Dr).

I was trying to get OUT of the picture and
ended up looking like Sasquatch in the background...
Photo Credit: Andrea

2. Cowbells/ Noise Makers

Before spectating myself, I would have just said USE YOUR VOICE, but after yelling for hours on end, having something you can shake helps you to be able to wake up the following morning with some sort of voice left. I love that some races are giving cowbells out at the Expos. I mean, like Christopher Walken says, "GOTTA HAVE MORE COWBELL".


The issue with those cheap cowbells is that they aren't of the best quality. While shaking mine at the LA Marathon my little bell portion would get stuck. Not only that, but the metal actually ended up scrapping skin off of some of my fingers (the rough life of a spectator...). I have seen some online that look BOSS GETTIN' IT! They have a big handle and look pretty legit. I think I might need to invest in one of these if I plan on spectating any more races (or maybe I should just get one for the hubby when he comes to watch me ;)).

Shoot, you could even customize it with stickers or bling!

3. Running Clothes

Although you won't be running the race, you should probably dress like you were planning on it. You will be on your feet the entire time. I would recommend comfortable shoes (I wore running shoes that I have "retired". They are still great shoes, but have hit their 500 mile mark so I probably shouldn't run in them any longer.). I wore Pro Compression socks too, which help alleviate the swelling your feet and legs may normally get from standing for long periods of time.

Of course I still laid out a #FlatSpectator outfit ;)

Whether you are going to be standing in one stop all day or chasing your runner around the course, make sure you are dressed for the occasion. (I also brought a book bag with me with a couple extra layers in case it was cooler during the morning hours or I needed to swap out a sweaty tank top from the heat.)

4. Snacks/ Goodies

If you are spectating for friends who are running, make sure to take orders of what they might want (remember it is important to tell them where on the course you are planning on being - that way they know how far along in their race you will be and what would work best for them at that point). We carted a cooler with us (and even had runners we didn't know ask us for goodies out of it).

Photo Credit: Michael

For example, Ivie requested peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets and a replacement visor, while Linzie wanted Girl Scout cookies and Coke. Another crowd pleaser were the orange slices, cold wash clothes, and mini bottles of water. (And when I am running I will ALWAYS stop for a Red Vine or Otter Pop. I mean taking candy from strangers on a race course isn't as sketchy, right?!)


I have to say, I am a little embarrassed that it took me so long to spectate a race (I guess my selfish thought process is "If I am going to be at a race course, I might as well be running"), but now that I have, I know how rewarding it can be!

Are there any tips you think I left out? 


Sarah S. said...

Love all of these! Before I was a runner, I would spectate my boyfriend's race every single weekend!

My addition- cheer for EVERYONE! Not just your runner! A simple, "Looking good, runner!" or "You got this!" from a stranger is AMAZING when you're running a race. And because coming up on a group of spectators just standing there is anti-climatic :-)

Unknown said...

The llama sign will always be a favorite. Always. I think good signs are critical and I totally agree with Sarah--cheer for everyone! And shout hilarious things at them--I am QUEEN of the inappropriate saying that gets a laugh. Then again, that is my job in general. Hey, we do what we are good at!

Kathleen said...

My tip - don't lie to us. If you are not near the finish line, don't tell us we're almost there. As you know, runners plan when they are going to give the final kick.
But - do lie to us. Tell us we look great. It helps mentally.