5 Reasons to Spectate a Marathon

Happy Friday! As per usual I’m joining Cynthia and Courtney for the Friday Five. This and next week are “Free Friday’s” so link up with us on a topic of your choice! As you may know I was in Boston last weekend running the B.A.A. 5K and spectating the Boston Marathon. It was an amazing weekend of running, friends and FUN (ignoring of course the delayed flight back to DC, getting home at 2 am and the painful suffering of allergies all week). 5 Reasons to Spectate a marathon marontherun.com

In any case, while I enjoy traveling and racing, spectating races brings a different kind of feeling. One of my favorite running related quotes is from Katherine Switzer: “If you’re losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” Well I did Katherine, and enjoyed every second of it! Here are 5 reasons why I think runners and non-runners alike should spectate a marathon:    

The feeling of community. As individuals we all have our own different interests and experiences. Not everyone likes to run and not all runners want to be marathoners. Being a spectator for the 120th Boston Marathon alongside hundreds of people clapping, cheering, high-fiving random strangers and rooting for friends brought us all together. Knowing we were all there for the same purpose was heartwarming and exciting. I couldn’t do anything else but smile for the entire day. 

It’s inspiring. A few weeks ago during the April Fools 7K, Kristy said to us that the thing she loves about running is that runners come in all shapes and sizes. On the course I saw the elite, the qualifiers, charity runners, mobility impaired runners and each and every one put in the work to get them from start to finish. I teared up so many times seeing the look on people’s faces as they pushed themselves to limits unknown. Some looked strong, some looked hurt or in pain but one thing is clear, they all were still in it and no doubt on their way to personal victory. 

To support friends and family. Runners dedicate many weeks and months to training for a marathon, sacrificing mornings, nights out and fun time. Boston as the holy grail of marathons requires even more because of its qualifying standards. Spectating is such a selfless act but one of the best forms of encouragement you can do for the people you know and love. You never know if seeing your sign, cheers or smile is just what your runner needs to pick themselves up in that moment and keep going.

You’re witnessing history. In the case of Boston it was the 120th running of the race and 50th anniversary of women running in it. Each runner has their own story for being there and as a spectator you are witnessing their triumph. Whether it’s someone’s first or 20th marathon, Boston Qualifying marathon, first marathon after surgery, illness or injury – every marathon is a mark for that individual that you have a chance to see. 

It’s FUN! Spectating is almost a sport in and of itself. I knew who I wanted to try and see so looked up bib numbers, got to Mile 19 at a certain time, chatted it up with everyone around me, cheered for the athletes I didn’t even know and was able to see everyone on my list. I had a BALL!

What was the last race you spectated? 

DC Trifecta Friday Five linkup

57 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Spectate a Marathon

  1. I had to pull out of RnR Phoenix, the one I finally got to meet you at!!, because of injury so I spectated and had SO MUCH FUN. I held a sign for my Moms Run This Town ladies and it was so cool to see their faces light up when they saw me πŸ™‚ I’ve spectated a few races but that’s been my fave so far

  2. I love spectating the Maine Marathon. It runs right by our house & one year we set up a make shift aid station for the back of the pack runners! It was so much fun & the runners were so appreciative! Yes, definitely a great sense of community, love your post πŸ™‚

  3. If I’m at a race, but not running, I’m usually volunteering. I was planning to spectate MCM this year, but somehow I signed up to run again LOL.

  4. I spectate the Paris marathon every year and love it. Fully agree with your post.
    This year I ran the marathon and my husband and kids came to support me and they loved it. It IS a wonderful experience when you spectate.

  5. I love giving out high fives at races! It’s so much fun to watch people finish a race. I need to make sure I hang out near the finish line after my tri next month so I can cheer people on!

  6. Yes to ALL of these! Spectating is one of those ways to “give back” that give just as much to you. I had so much fun spectating at MCM and was so inspired by those who kept going even though they were struggling.

  7. All great reasons! I look forward to spectating the Pgh Marathon & 5K next weekend!

  8. It’s always nice to spectate or volunteer at a race. It’s great when you can give a runner an extra boost of energy with a simple smile or a high five!

  9. The only time I’ve spectated a race was our local half/marathon that many of my summer training group do. It was definitely a lot of fun!

    I often cheer on the people finishing behind me, too — slow as I am, I haven’t yet been last. Slow runners need the cheers even more!

  10. Yes to all! I LOVE spectating. I am really loud and I cheer with gusto. All of my friends at Mile 13 in Chicago know where to look and I love giving fun shout outs to strangers, too. I have cheered in NYC, Chicago and lots of smaller races. I enjoy volunteering, too! I was really jealous of you in Boston on Monday! I cheered from my computer!!

  11. I haven’t really spectated a race, unless you count going back on the course and cheering those on behind me. I will have to make a point to spectate at my next local race!

  12. I watched my first marathon last fall and it was a great time. I stood near mile 20 to see my running friends, but it was awesome and inspiring to see all of the runners hitting that difficult point. We tried our best to cheer loudly and NOT say, “you’re almost there!” Lies!! πŸ˜‰

    1. me too! I spectated Marine Corps after running the 10K. What an awe inspiring moment. And YES, no “you’re almost there’s” that has to be the most depressing cheer, lol.

    1. we watched the start and elite runners while having breakfast at home then walked to Mile 19 which was about 15 minutes from my friend’s house. It was such an incredible experience!

  13. I had to DNS a race but I went down to cheer anyway. Then it t-stormed and poured, so when the race did start, I was trying to stay dry and I was cold πŸ™

  14. aww such great reasons to spectate. Boston must be such an inspirational race to watch, too. so great that you were able to be there!

  15. Love this! I’ve never been able to spectate a whole marathon. I love standing near the finish line after I run a half marathon & spectating. But I would love to be around mile 19 or 20. I know how hard a point that is. And just thinking about it gives me chills. Especially knowing all the hard work that goes into it. Hearing encouraging words sometimes really make you put your feet one in front of the other when you would rather sit down Haha.

    1. that was the best place to be on Monday. I’m lucky my friend lived walking distance. You could just see it in their eyes where everyone was on this journey. Just amazing. BTW, keep trying to comment on your blog and it’s eating my comments!

  16. Spectating really is a lot of fun. My husband and I don’t run all of the same races (we’ve run many of the same, but there are plenty of others that we haven’t), so its always great to be out there cheering for him, as well as all of the other runners.

  17. I hadn’t really even realized how big a deal spectating was until I watched my sister do her first half marathon and then ever since with running my own races. It really is so cool! i love these reasons. Thanks for the list!

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