Since race season is here I thought it would be a great time to talk about the do’s and don’ts of being a race spectator. Here are my 10 rules for being a good race spectator.
(1) Do make awesome signs. Runners do read them and they often use your words to help motivate them get to the finish line.
(2) Don’t make signs that are insulting. Be considerate. Just because you think it’s funny doesn’t mean your buddy or other runners think it’s funny.
(3) Do go to the race ready to use your voice. Cheer on the runners as they pass by. Tell them they are doing well and looking strong.
(4) Don’t tell runners they are almost there. UNLESS you are literally standing next to the finish. No runner likes to hear it.
(5) Do know your surroundings. Are there bathrooms close to you? Where is the next water stop? How about the medical tent? I know this info isn’t important to you, but if a runner asks they would be more than appreciative when hearing a concrete answer instead of “I don’t know”.
(6) Don’t go to a race looking grumpy. If you are going to cheer on people, look happy. A smile does wonders for runners struggling to stay strong.
(7) Don’t make rude comments like “If you run you’ll get there faster” or “If you hurry you won’t be last”. Think before you speak. These comments aren’t motivating. They are insulting.
Here are some horrible comments I have heard from spectators in the pass:
“If I could run behind that (referring to a girl passing by) then I would actually run all day”
“Run Fatty Run” (not to me but to a friend)
“Don’t run a marathon if you are going to walk! Run faster!”
(8) Do be supportive. If a runner looks like they need help, provide it. Even if it’s just a phone call. I carry band-aids and Vaseline. Most times runners don’t need them. But the one man with chaffing nipples will be forever grateful.
(9) Don’t go to the post race party and eat all the food. This is irritating on all levels.
(10) Do provide an awesome experience. Some of the greatest spectators have made me laugh (a family of five with “Go MOM” painted on their stomachs), given me beer (at mile 10), provided me chocolate, etc. Spectators are as much of the race experience as the race itself and medal at the end. Make it memorable!