Tips for Spectators

7 Tips on How to Be a Good Spectator at the Cherry Blossom Race  


While people come from all over the world to visit Washington, D.C. to see the cherry blossoms, runners and their friends and family will wake up in the early hours of April 12 2015 for an opportunity to participate in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler race, also known as "Runner's Rite of Spring". If you’ve never been a spectator at this premier 10 miler, cheering the runners is a major part of the race. We want to help you with some tips on how to be the best spectator.

1. Dress for comfort. Remember to dress in layers and bring more warm, comfortable clothing than you think you’ll need: Standing outside can get chilly, and a breeze makes it feel more so. . Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes to make getting around easier.
2. Create a fun plan.  As a spectator, deciding that you’ll be somewhere “near the halfway point” and “toward the end” isn't enough. Arrange a specific plan with your runner for wherever you may be. If you're spectating at a big race, review the spectator plan on the race website for recommendations on the best places to see the race and modes of transportation to areas on the course. Select specific places and landmarks wherever possible, and check out places on the course to determine with your runner what side of the road you will be on. For example, “I’ll be as near the 3-mile mark on the right side of the road, just before mile 7 on the right side, and between 9 and 10 on the right side after you pass a specific landmark.” Avoid being close to aid stations where there are half-filled cups of sports drink flying everywhere as the runners hydrate.
3. Position yourself in a specific area to help your runner see you before you see them. This might not be as difficult for smaller races, but for races with thousands of runners, it may be much more challenging for you to spot your runner in a wave of runners than it will be for your runner to see you along the side of the road. Make it easier for them to spot you early by wearing a specific color or carrying a distinctive sign that they can see from 50 yards away or other easy to find items like balloons, large hat, etc. For the best chance of seeing your friend or loved one, give as much detail about your location as you can.
 I’ve even seen spectators carrying large posters of their runner. During the Marine marathon in 20114, my dad held a huge banner with my name on it so I could easily spot him.  In the Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington D.C. Marathon in 2013, a spectator had their three young daughters holding up signs saying, “Run, Daddy, Run” and giving hi-fives to passing runners.  As a spectator, it might seem silly carrying around a huge banner, but you and your runner will be glad you did it if it means you see each other!
4. Use mobile. Your runner isn’t the sole person running for exercise on race day. You will too if you’re execute your spectator plan properly. Sign up for tracking your runner about a week prior to the race. Use the race tracking to understand exactly where your runner’s expected to be so you've got adequate time to get from one spot to next.  It will help your runner tremendously to see them in multiple locations on the course. Work with your runner to select the miles that may be the foremost difficult for them so you can be there to cheer them on.
5. Be a secondary aid station. Spectators have to be like a juggler. You should be ready to take photos, wave, cheer, shout words of encouragement and distribute necessary race-day things. Carry your own snacks and hydration for the race, and it really helps to have extras on hand for your runners just in case something unexpected happens. As a spectator, be ready to hand your runner something they shout out they need, and be ready to grab clothes or different items your runner need to shed when they see you.

6. Make it all about the runner. Even though you’re traveling to a race and it’s meant to be a great opportunity to support your runner on this very special race day.  Be ready to give them what they need to drink, offer pre-race snacks as needed and offer to carry their running gear. Don’t add additional stress to your runner’s mind by making them feel like you rather be doing thing else or pushing them to do one additional activity in the morning before the race. Look like a professional doing it. Make being a fabulous spectator your runner’s favorite part of the race because they know you are being totally supportive.
7. Respect the Course. Give the runners plenty of room by not crowding any part of the course. It's not fair to runners if you make the race course even more crowded or become an obstacle that they have to run around. It’s safer for everyone if spectators stick to the sidewalks . If you can't see the runners from where you're standing because it's too crowded, move to a different viewing location.

8. Make sure you have a finish line plan.  In a large race like D. C. Cherry Blossom, the finish line can be very crowded and hectic time, so make sure you plan a meet up with your runner after they cross the finish line.  Have a designed spot like a pre determined landmark where you can meet or contact each other by cell phone.

What types ten miler or a race spectator tips do you have to help someone be the perfect spectator?

Tags: Race spectators, D.C. Cherry Blossom