On December 3 I watched my first marathon — and it was amazing. I’ve run 13 marathons and a ton of halves, but I’ve never actually seen the top finishers of a race cross the finish line. CIM (California International Marathon) is an incredible race for many reasons, but this year as a relay runner and spectator I gained a whole new appreciation for the race and marathons in general. In fact, I truly believe everyone should watch the finish of a marathon. Here’s why:
- The sheer speed. Bring your calculator because the top runners are so speedy you’ll have to check your math to make sure you calculated their mile pace correctly! And, they make it look easy.
- The finish line faces. Watch everyone’s face as they cross the finish line and you’ll see the purest human emotion. Everything from tears of joy to crushing heartbreak and even confusion is so easily visible on everyone’s face. You get to see the grit and hard work that went into months of training and 26.2 miles of tough racing. The marathon is a mental game and watching the finish line faces is the perfect representation of that.
- The other spectators — especially family members. I loved people watching and listening in on the conversations from spectators around me. At one point I was standing in between two men who’s wives were running — one had just qualified for the Olympic trials and the other was probably going to finish around 5 hours. Both were equally as proud and excited for their significant other’s accomplishment.
- The sportsmanship. Sure, running’s an “individual” sport, but its really not. There’s a lot that happens with your running buddies during training and with complete strangers over the course of 26.2 miles. That all shows up at the finish line — seeing runners help and cheer for each other whether they just met on the course or trained together for years. Then there’s always that moment where someone needs help crossing the finish line and someone ALWAYS steps up to make sure they get there.
- The beer. When you spectate a race, you get to celebrate the race, too!
What are your favorite things about spectating a race?