Marathon Spectators and Support Story*Training*Injury*Schedule*Spectators*Statistics

If you're not running, perhaps you know someone who is, or just want to support the running community.

Get out there and cheer!

The hardest marathons I have run are the ones that have no spectators, and/or limited support. You have no idea how helpful and appreciated the support of the crowd is....

How to be a great spectator:

  • Identify with the runners. What they are doing is difficult. Praise them individually, if you can.  Many runners have their names on their shirts, so call them by name.
  • Stay positive in your cheering. 
  • Don't say "You're Almost there," if they're not almost there.  Don't say "Its all downhill from here" if its not.
  • Try and place yourselves on hills or more challenging parts of the course. These are the places that the runners will need the most encouragement.
  • Make distinctive signs and move to different locations throughout the course. Believe it or not, runners will remember you and it will encourage them to keep going.
  • Do something to make runners smile. Laugh, sing, dance or do tricks such as juggling. It may put the runners at ease for a few moments.
  • Be as loud as possible and cheer for as long as possible. Yell, clap, bring whistles, bells, cymbals, drums, or any other noisemaker, and cheer as a group with other spectators.
  • Some spectators play music along the course using radios or portable stereos
  • Hard candy is a God Send later in the course.  Gummy bears will get you a life-long friend. Nothing too hard to open. No Fireballs. Many runners need Kleenex during the run.
  • On a hot day (60+ degrees), set up a sprinkler to lightly spray water near the runners ... You may think its cool, but 60 degrees at 20 miles isn't.

    Other tips to keep in mind:

  • Prepare for the weather. It may be cool in the morning but warm up by noon. You want to be sure to be able to stay to cheer on the runners in the back of the pack as well.
  • If you see a runner who appears to need some help or medical attention, please try to remember his or her race number and inform a course monitor or fluid station volunteer. If the runner's injury looks serious, please try to find a police officer on the course. Do not try and stop the participants; many runners will look quite unhappy in the later stages of the race, but wouldn't want to be hindered in any way.
  • Do not crowd the runners by standing in the street, especially in the earlier miles. This may cause a back up for the runners and make the marathon more difficult.
  • If a runner does not smile back or talk to you, do not take this personally. The runner may be deep in concentration, fatigued or in pain. Lack of response is usually not for lack of appreciation.
  • Most of the time there is plenty of water on the course at the fluid stations, but if it is a warm day (60+), a runner may ask for water or to be sprayed down with a hose
  • If you're there supporting someone you know, Cheer for the other runners as well. Someone will be cheering for your guy as well.
  • Keep in mind that the runners in the back of the pack need the most encouragement, as they will be out there the longest. Be sure to cheer for them as well!
  • If you have to cross the marathon route, cross diagonally / (in the direction that the course is run), and not perpendicular -- (across the path of runners). They are not expecting traffic from their right or left and will run into you -- or worse -- otherwise.
  • Updated November 25th, 2003