My mom, sister, niece and nephew watched me run a marathon for the first time at Twin Cities Marathon, and they had quite the experience as spectators! It’s much different than what the race is like for a runner, but I think it’s equally as challenging (for different reasons of course).
My sister offered (I may have twisted her arm a bit) to write a post about the things she learned as a spectator, as well as marathon spectator tips for you or your family.
We had a great time being a spectator at the Twin Cities Marathon. It was our first experience watching a full marathon so I did not know what to expect. At the running expo, we grabbed the spectator guide – which was really helpful to review the map and route the night before so we could figure out where we were going. I think they generally have websites with the information, too.
We chose spots on the map where we did not expect it to be crowded with tons of spectators (avoided those that were recommended as spectator “favorites”). As a small town girl, my goal was to try to avoid, as much as possible, all of the traffic and big city driving. Once we chose our spots then we calculated estimated times based on Lora’s usually running times. I had my list in hand with the addresses and was set to go for marathon morning. Lora had warned me that she heard that being a spectator is stressful, but I kind of shrugged it off. Really, how hard can it be to drive around, park, and cheer on the runners. I wish I wouldn’t have shrugged it off so easily.
My tips for prepping as a spectator:
- Get your cheering gear whether it’s bells, signs, shirts. The runners love to see your cheering section and read the signs.
- Prepare for the weather. Know what the weather will be like for early morning watching. The runners are nice and toasty on their run, but as a spectator it can get cold standing there.
- You are busy for a good four hours and there are not refreshments available for spectators on the route so it is a good idea to have snacks/drinks on hand, especially when you have kids participating along with you.
- Get a general understanding of the city layout. With never driving in Minneapolis/St. Paul area before this is where my most stress occurred.
- Use navigation on your phone or vehicle, but be aware of possibly construction or road closures that will not be reflected.
The morning of the marathon, I was tasked with taking Lora from her apartment to the marathon start. Halfway there it started getting busy and we soon realized the 10-mile marathon was starting and crossing in front of us. With construction on the south side of the street, she quickly instructed to go down a couple streets hop over on another parallel street to get back. Then off she went! I got to watch all of the excitement of the 10 milers at the start of their run.
Once I was free to go, I attempted to listen to her instructions to only learn that her instructed parallel street was closed due to the marathon. And, turning around on the current street was not an option due to it being closed for construction. This is the part where knowing the general city would have come in handy. After circling a few times I figured my only option at this point was to get back on the interstate and hope my navigation could re-route me back. Once on the interstate, I recognized one of the streets we walked on the night before, so luckily that eventually lead me back to Lora’s apartment.
After getting packed up, we were finally ready to get to our spectator stops, with all of the dropping off fiasco we already missing our first spectator stop so we headed to our 10-mile stop. There we encountered more closed roads unknown one-way streets (oops). We made it just in time to see all of the elites sprint by, and had a great time cheering all of the runners.
It was fun to see all of the runners dress up gear and we made sure to keep a mental note of the people that were ahead of Lora so we would know she was near on our future stops.
This guy was our favorite.
We made it to our next stop just fine. The next stop, mile 23, was closer to the finish line which meant even busier traffic and more road closures. We decided to just head by the finish line to see Lora.
As a spectator we had a great time, but learned many things as a first-time spectator. My biggest lesson was if I would have had a better awareness of the city layout I would have been a lot better off.
It was a great day and so proud of Lora’s 22nd marathon finish!
Ever spectated a race? Any other advice or thoughts?
Do you like to drive in the city, highway, nowhere?
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