Ask any runner and you'll likely hear that one of the most memorable aspects of running a race is the CROWD ENERGY! We love and appreciate our spectators. We really do! Without you the race day energy would not feel half as special. So while runners all over the world may be heading into race season with a mixture of fear and excitement, one thing is for sure, our cheer crowd has got what it takes to put that extra pep in our step and help give us the energy we need to carry us through to the finish line.
If you are thinking, "Heck, yes! I knew I was important." You can rest assured, you most certainly are. However, there are some things that you can do to be more comfortable and the best cheer squad any runner could ever hope for! Let's get into those here.
One of the best things you can do as a spectator is familiarize yourself with the course map and route. Plan in advance where you are going to set up and let your runner know your location in proximity to aid stations or mile markers. Also, pick a back-up cheer spot just in case. Runners already know that they have to plan for a multitude of different race day scenarios so it is good for you to be prepared as well.
In addition to planning for the spot you'll be setting up at, it's important that you plan on being as comfortable as you possibly can. Wear comfy shoes, bring a lawn chair if you think you will need to sit down a few times during your cheering marathon, and consider the weather. Likely the weather from when you set up to when you leave will change a bit. So be prepared with a light jacket or water-resistant layers.
Why blend in, when you were born to stand out? Want to insure or at least improve your odds of your runner seeing you? Stand out, this may be a mylar balloon, an over-the-top hat, or the best race sign ever. Whatever you do, try not to blend in. This is a great time to break out the pom poms and truly jump for joy.
Talking about joy. Make some joyful noise, but save your voice.
While encouraging race day participants is always appreciated, you may run out of "juice" if you are shouting words or encouragement for hours. So cowbells, music, triangles, hand clapper toys are all great ways to show your spirit without needing to cancel all of your meetings for the days following the race.
And, while we are chatting about encouraging the participants, let's talk about "what to say" and what not to say. While the best "cheers" could be a blog post on its own, let's just go for an overarching general rule of thumb. Encouraging words like, "You've got this!" "Keep going" and "You look strong" are all great, but this is not the time to "coach" from the sidelines. While you may think that telling folks to "Pick up the Pace" or "RUN harder" sounds encouraging, it may mess with the race participants' strategy. When in doubt, cheer not coach.
That's right, after weeks and months of the runner being at the center of the conversation during their training, we want YOU, our incredible cheerleader to feel as good as possible. So bring snacks and coffee.
Of course, for yourself, but if you want to share with the throngs of runners then bonus points! If you are planning on sharing with runners, a good mix of salty and sweet would likely be a big hit. Gummy bears, chips, pretzels, leftover halloween candy, or mimosas will all be appreciated.
Last, but not least. ENJOY! It is incredibly inspiring to see people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities complete an endeavor they have been working on for months, but also your energy and enjoyment will be effusive. Thank you for being there for us during the training process and for making race day special. YOU ARE THE BEST! (Just don't say, "almost there" unless if the runner has less than 1/4 of the way to go to the finish line) Want to download your very own "Cheerleader" Kit & checklist along with printable graphics? Find it here >>