It’s almost Houston Marathon day, and whether you’re supporting a spouse, parent, child or stranger, be prepared to be the best spectator you can be. There’s more to watching a race than just standing on the sidelines, and here’s what you can do to help your loved one while they conquer the feat of adding a 13.1 or 26.2 mile sticker to their car.
- Remember that the race is about the racers, not you. They have been training for months or even longer. They have logged dozens of hours and hundreds of miles on the streets of Houston. Have you run in this city before? You know the humidity and heat they probably faced. Don’t complain about waking up early or being cold. You’re there for them.
- Study the course map, know their pace, and pick a few places you are planning to find them. The smartest thing to do is stand at the starting line and start your stopwatch when they cross the start. Runners can start up to 30-40 minutes after the official start time, and if you plan to meet them at mile six, you may be standing for a long time and not sure when exactly to expect your runner.
- Wear bright colors, hold a neon sign, or tie a balloon on your wrist. Make it easy for your racer to find you. Major points for great signs like “Way to be the best at exercising,” or “Mommy, I hope you win.”
- Bring a camera. Runners love pictures of themselves, especially when they’re free! Race pictures cost a lot of money. Take pictures before, during and after the race. They’ll appreciate them.
- If you plan to run a little of the race with your runner, make sure you have checked with them before the race to make sure they want you there. Don’t do it if you will slow them down or go too fast. Also only do it if it’s safe. You don’t want to get in trouble, get hurt, or run into someone. It’s not exactly legal to run part of the race with someone.
- Be positive and encouraging. Have a water bottle to hand them, Kleenex, a towel, some food at the end. Yell things like “Go runner,” “You’ve got this,” “You’re running a marathon!” Call strangers by name if you can read it on their bib.
Runners really appreciate spectators (especially with good signs and Kleenex). Dress warm if it’s cold, wear comfortable shoes, have some water for yourself. Plan to have a great time and be inspired by what you see.
It could be you running the Chevron Houston Marathon next year.