Last weekend, I ran my first half-marathon race in the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon. The only race I’d done before was the TC 10K in March. Both times I was nervous.
For work, I was asked to write an article with recommendations from runners on how those magnificent people who line the track can help the racers by cheering. One runner I know hates it when, a few kilometres from the finish line, cheerers scream, “You’re almost there!” Because as a runner, those last few kilometres are the toughest and to him, the last thing he wants to hear are those words.
Elite runners like Rob Reid, who is now the race director, often don’t care what those fans are screaming. Frankly, a lot of them are delirious, especially for marathoners who are beyond the 32-kilometre mark. Only 10 km to go.
In both races, I was extremely grateful to those thousands (about 4,000 were estimated for last weekend’s marathon) who cheer for not only their loved ones, but for complete strangers.
Among the most memorable for me were the family on Crescent Road who played “Chariots of Fire” over and over – that’s the slow-mo running song you’d hear in a movie if people were running through some bright field, their hair blowing in the wind. And the lone woman on Irving Street, I believe, dressed in a bear suit and socks, who jumped up and down, yelling, “You look good! And you look good!” and pointing to runners as they passed her.
Another complete stranger yelled, “Way to go, blue shoes!” at me.
Running 21 kilometres, never mind 42.2, would be a whole lot tougher without those wonderful souls who cheer, sing, bang instruments and hold sings from the sidewalks along the way.
You were the real heroes of race weekend, in my eyes.
Check out the results here. No, you won’t see my name on the leaders board.