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How to be a great marathon spectator

How to best support your favourite runner on race day

Fall marathon season is upon us, and this means that many runners are entering the final weeks of their race preparation. They’ve trained through the hot summer months and are ready to tackle their goal race. If you’re joining your runner on race day, here are some tips to help them get the most out of their experience and what you can expect as a spectator.

Photo: Instagram

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Limit activities the day before

If you’ve traveled to a race in an exciting city, be prepared to do a lot of the exploration on your own. Your runner will need time off of their feet, which means that sightseeing and touristy activities will need to be saved for a later date. Even though your runner will likely want to join you, encourage them to lay low and save the fun for after the race.

Dinner prep

If you’re staying in an Airbnb or hotel with a kitchen, ask your runner what they like eating ahead of the race and pick it up for them. Runners like as much predictability as possible ahead of a race, and eating familiar foods (when possible) is usually part of that plan.


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Know their goal

Having an idea of the result someone is hoping for is a good idea before they take to the start line. This way you’ll be able to gauge your reaction accordingly post-race, and either be there to help them up or celebrate alongside them.

RIDE Cycle Club cheer station in Chinatown at the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon 2019. Photo: lululemon

Get loud

When you’re on the course cheering, get really loud and let your runner know that you’re there. Sometimes seeing a familiar face is all they need to get them out of an emotional slump. On that same note, don’t be offended if your runner doesn’t react or come over and see you–your presence is helpful whether they let you know in the moment or not.

Be at the finish line, have warm clothes

If you’ve found a place to cheer on the course, try your best to get to the finish line ahead of your runner. It’s a good idea to bringing or rent a bike to get yourself around the course.

A note on the bike: there will be lots of streets closed and places you can’t pass through on two wheels, plan a route beforehand so you don’t get stuck in traffic.

Once you find your runner at the finish line, especially if they’ve run a late-fall marathon, have warm clothes for them. It won’t take long for their sweat to go from warm to cold.

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