No marathon runner ever wants to hear it (especially in the last few miles of a marathon), but being a marathon spectator can sometimes be almost as exhausting as running the marathon. Like the runners, many marathon spectators wake up at the crack of dawn on race day, they're on their feet all day, and they often run or walk many miles getting from one spot to another. But, unlike the runners, they're often unprepared for the big day because they're not trained to run or walk lots of miles, they may not eat or drink enough during the day, and they're not dressed properly for the weather.
A little preparation can help marathon spectators provide good support and prevent them from completely ruining their marathon runner's moment by complaining about how tough it is to watch a marathon. If you're planning on watching one of the many upcoming marathons this fall, here are some ways you can be an asset on the race course:
Be prepared. The water stops and food stations are for race participants, so you should be prepared with your own supplies. Pack some bottled water and snacks. Make sure you also have a reliable watch, a course map, cash, a camera, and cell phone. If rain is in the forecast, bring an umbrella, rain jacket, and extra socks. If it's sunny, don't forget sunscreen and sunglasses. You're most likely going to be standing still for a while. So it's always good to have extra layers in case you get cold. And, most importantly, make sure you're wearing comfortable shoes.
Respect the course. Don't stand or walk on any part of the course. It's not fair to runners if you make the race course even more crowded or become an obstacle that they have to run around. If you can't see the runners from where you're standing because it's too crowded, move to a different viewing location.
Use public transportation. For big city marathons, public transportation is the best way to get around the course. Check the marathon's web site to find out which trains or buses you should take to get from one point to another. If you absolutely have to drive to get around the course, you should also check the race's web site to get information on road closures. Whether you're using public transportation or driving, give yourself plenty of time to get from one spot to another.
Make signs. Runners love to read signs along the race course to help break the monotony. If you're supporting a family member or friend, make a sign with his name that will encourage your runner but also help them to easily identify you. Get ideas for funny marathon signs, inspirational marathon signs, and perfect timing marathon signs.
Get more marathon spectator tips and please share your own in the comments section.