Spectating Obligations

Last week on my way to work, I listened to an interesting conversation on the radio about race spectating. In prep for NYC Marathon, the hosts were talking about spectating  and what it was like as non runners. Stationed in NYC, some were excited for the marathon, while others could care less. They talked about how often you should attend a friends race: every time or just the “big” races. They also asked should runners return the favor and how. Unfortunately I couldn’t listen to the whole topic, but it got me thinking. How often do you ask friends/family to attend your races? What do you think race spectating is like for a non runner? Here are my thoughts.

  • You don’t have to show up to every race, but try to come to the big ones. When your running with hundreds of other runners during a large race, it’s nice to see a familiar face along the way.
  • Be there for the firsts. Whether it’s your first 5k or first marathon, having friends and family there for the firsts in life is always something you’ll remember.
  • You’re allowed to have fun. Bring food and drinks, make signs or bring a cowbell. We know you’ll be bored most of the time waiting for us to pass, but at least try to have some fun.
  • Make creative signs (if you’re into that kind of thing). Nothing makes a runner feel better than seeing a funny sign at their breaking point during a race. Go crazy with your signs!
  • Be aware of the course and what’s going on in the race. We don’t want you to get trampled by accidentally crossing in front of the runners. Let’s keep it safe for everyone.
  • Don’t tell us “You’re almost there”, especially when we have a few miles to go. We know you’re trying to help us along, but it really doesn’t help, sorry.
  • Don’t be mad if we don’t seem appreciative right away after finishing. Some runners need their own time after they finish a race. When we come around and start talking about our race, you’ll wish we were quiet again.
  • Don’t be afraid of a sweaty hug, we’re just trying to thank you for supporting us.
  • Understand the lingo, know the difference between a PR and a PW. Trust us, there’s a huge difference.
  • Take it all in, we know this may not be your thing, but it’s important to us. You may end up liking it and want to join us in our next race.

All in all, any time a friend or family member shows up to a race, we truly appreciate it. We may not always have our best days or our best attitude post race, but knowing you spent an hour or five out of your day to support us, means so much more than you realize.


How often do you invite friends/family to races? Any tips for non running spectators?



One thought on “Spectating Obligations

  1. playfulpups says:

    Well said!! I love the encouragement spectators give, especially if they are strangers. It means a lot from family don’t get me wrong, but a complete stranger cheering you on is pretty awesome too!

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