The course is set, the medals are shining, and the racers are ready to run; this picture is just missing one key element: the crowd of spectators supporting, cheering, and motivating the participants to run hog wild! Whether you’re cheering from the start/finish line or just a helpful neighbor giving encouragement from your front porch as the runners follow the course in front of your house, here are some helpful tips to get you cheering!
Instead of the standard clap and shout, pick a few phrases ahead of time such as “You’re flying,” “You’re doing amazing,” or another encouraging slogan. If they have their name on their race bib or shirt, adding it to your phrase can really boost their adrenaline. Just avoid phrases such as “almost there” or “only a few more miles”, unless you are immediately next to the finish line or know the exact mileage, in order to avoid frustration or discourage the racers.
Don’t just say it, spell it out on a sign! The visual impact of signs on the course, whether on posters or in chalk on the road, really helps to break up the monotony of the race. Try something funny or incorporate names of people you know to encourage them and maybe give them a laugh to push them to the finish line.
Marathons can take a while to complete, and water/food stations are for race participants only. With that in mind, pack some bottled water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and happy! Also, check the forecast before leaving home; you may want to pack a few extra layers or an umbrella in case of inclement weather. Wear comfortable shoes, because you may be standing for long periods of time, and bring an easy-to-carry lawn chair to give yourself a little break while cheering on the course. If you really want to go all out, consider bringing snacks and tissues to hand out to runners as they pass – it will be much appreciated!
If you’re cheering on a particular racer, pay special attention to what they are wearing and their pace to keep one step ahead of them on the course. You will want to also have a course map with you at all times to know which spot to go to next. Keep in mind that it could take several minutes or more just to get across the start line with all the other runners in the same spot, so you may need to adjust after first spotting your runner! Following your runner throughout the course is a great way to boost energy and give them something to look forward to; just don’t get too overzealous and walk or stand on the course, creating an obstacle for other runners.
They did it! Your runner crossed the finish line. Now is the time to let your support shine. Whether your racer is ecstatic with their results or wishing they had done a bit better, now is the time to boost them up and let them know how amazing it is that they finished the race. The finish line can be chaotic and crowded, so make sure you have a planned location to meet up, congratulate them, and give them some well-deserved hydration, snacks, and a “job well done” cheer.
There’s no wrong way to cheer for a mighty racer, but these tips will make the day a little more fun, stress-free, and successful for all involved. Get your cheering lungs, poster board, and walking shoes ready; the Grand Forks Marathon on September 23rd-24th will give your runner the perfect chance to run in an inaugural event, and you the perfect chance to try out those cheers!