It is not often that I go to races to cheer. Simply because often it is a bit of an effort and coordination to get to a race, and if I’m going to be at the location for the duration of the race, most of the time I just race it.
This time was different. I had no need or desire to race due to still recovering from Around The Bay and the Catalina Marathon, and my sister (and loyal 5 a.m. training partner) was racing – along with a number of other friends. The race was the Harry’s Spring Run Off 8 km. A great course around High Park, and viewing it as a spectator allowed me to appreciate many different experiences than usual. Here are a few things I noticed as a spectator which I don’t tend to as a racer:
- The mellow vibe of those there to complete, not compete. As I finally found a parking spot a few miles away from the start with under half an hour to go, I was already getting slightly panicky about getting to the start in time to watch it. And I found myself walking towards the start along with quite a number of other people who were going to run it. Who are these laid back people who get to the start just in time to go??? I assume they have way less stress and adrenalin coursing through them on race day than I normally do. Very different and very cool.
- I would like to say I enjoyed not getting nervous (most spectators probably would), but for some reason the sights and sounds still brought forth my physical gut response of fight-or-flight. Luckily I was able to channel my adrenalin and had one of my best runs in a while later that afternoon.
- I got to enjoy the crowds, booths, announcing and ceremonies which are there to make the runners feel welcome. Normally all of this is just background noise as I find my space to warm-up and get into my “racing zone”. This was the first time I’ve ever followed the piper to the start.
Piper leading the runners to the start
- I saw many familiar faces before the race, and was able to wish them a heartfelt “good luck” and cheer them on throughout (instead of being focused on me, me, me).
Friend and running mate Ali Drynan pre-race
- I was able to watch the actual race play out as the winners flew by (the course was a great spectator’s course as we could watch the races pass by four times)
Lead woman and eventual winner Krista DuChene
Lead man and eventual winner Sami Jibril staying ahead of second place finisher Josephat Ongeri
- I could pour all of my energy and emotions into cheering as loudly as I could to try to help runners find a little extra strength and speed which might net them a couple of extra seconds in time. I really do think cheering makes a difference in this. It better – I sure felt exhausted enough afterwards!!
My hero of the day Tanis Feasby as she crested the brutal hill at the finish for a PB time (I screamed very loudly here)
- The final thing I was really able to observe differently and more completely was the coordination and efforts of all of the volunteers. Standing near them at a table for minutes allowed me to appreciate their duties a lot better than when I just run by over the course of a couple of seconds. They are amazing, spend a lot of time and effort, and probably don’t get nearly enough thanks. My next resolution is to volunteer at a race sometime in the coming season to get an even better perspective and appreciation for their roles (and to give back of course!)
Congratulations to all runners, racers and volunteers who took part in this event – it was by far my favourite sporting entertainment event of the year so far.