So you’re watching a marathon…

While providing course support and watching the Rock N’ Roll Marathon/Half Marathon DC on Saturday, it occurred to me that running as a sport is growing in popularity and therefore there are a lot of new runners . With new runners comes new spectators! As a seasoned spectator and race participant, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of some tips on how to best support your friends, family, or co-workers who are running.

  1. Be Supportive! Your loved one signed up for this, so they knew the commitment they were making. Sarcasm and crazy comments can be super funny, but after awhile they become redundant and tiresome. If you want to support your person, support them!

hunger games. moral support

2. Ask what they want. It’s a simple thought but goes very far. Some people want a change of shoes for the end of the race, others need more nuun or a snack and some people just want to know that you’ll be there. If your person needs something, they’ll ask for it. I am still thankful to this day for a friend who ran through DC to bring me a tylenol mid-race. It was a lifesaver. Or when my sister actually fed me clip shot bloks mid-marathon because I didn’t want to get my hands sticky. (Yeah, I’m a brat but my sister is pretty great.)


Your person is a mess and they need help.

3. Prepare to have some additional cargo. You will be carrying things around. Don’t gripe. Your person is running all the miles. Walking with some extra cargo is good for you. (Well at least that’s how I choose to think about it.) A backpack usually helps too.

4. Be positive! Your person may hate spiral and you could read texts like, “mile 15. it’s all downhill, but not an actual downhill” or “22.5 kill me.” Yes, I have received both of those and many more. Here’s when you bring out your inner cheerleader and pep talk like it’s your job. You need to pick your person up so they can get their butt across that finish line. Once they cross the finish line all bets are off and you can return to your normal human self.


Keep on trucking… Also Chuck Norris never ran a marathon. 

5. Create a plan. It’s much easier to plan to see your person if they know where you will be. Check out a map and draft a plan. Depending on the race, I prefer to bounce around on a bicycle. However, that’s not always possible. As long as your person knows where to look and what you’ll have on you, you’re solid.


Make sure your whole group is on board with the plan

6. Hold up a sign!! As a runner, I love the signs. They’re a wonderful distraction and can really help divert your attention from the race. Funnier the better! That’s me below cheering at the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon. This was not funny, more inspirational but it got people smiling!

photo 2

You Do LOOK Amazing!

7. Ignore the strange. Your person may say or do things out of character. This is due to nerves, jitters, months of training culminating in one day, or really it could be anything else. Let your person, be the weirdo they need to be today. Also try to ignore any TMI that you may be privy to. Runners don’t always have a filter, you may want to leave your sensitivities off the course.


If your weird is Ben Stiller weird, I will gladly be your course support. 

8. Cheer. It’s easy to cheer for your person, but what about the people who are running by before they arrive. It can’t hurt to throw out a few, “go runners, you got this, looking good.” Also it’s fun.


You don’t have to hit Dean Thomas levels of enthusiasm.. Ron seems more appropriate here. 

9. Have Fun! It’s that simple. Your person worked hard and who doesn’t love being outside. Enjoy the experience!

10. Respect the course. As a final note, I’m sharing a personal pet peeve. When spectating, don’t stand on the course. If runners have to move to avoid you, you’re too close. (okay I’ll step off my soapbox now).

What are your tips for spectating during a race? What are your favorite races to cheer at? Do you ever just go to watch a race without supporting someone?

3 Comments on “So you’re watching a marathon…

  1. Yup – the first text in #4 was ME!!! 🙂 O Baltimore, you got me good. You are the best cheerleader, BTW!

  2. Signs are some of my favorite things – they’re so distracting, encouraging, and often, hilarious! You definitely need a good chuckle to get you through sometimes!

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