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Runners Offer Their Tips For Being The Best Spectator

When gearing up for a big race, runners read everything they can get their hands on. But what about spectators? For friends and family preparing to spectate and cheer their beloved runner (that’s you) on—they could use some helpful reading too. So we asked runners what tips they wish their spectators knew.

Get an unique Mylar balloon. Like of an animal or unusual shape so your runner can easily spot you in the crowd.” —Amy

Make a giant poster of their face. “Nothing like seeing your own mug staring back at you while you’re out there.” —Lisa

Wear comfortable shoes. At my last half marathon, I was dressed for the weather (running) but my husband (spectating) had cold feet.” —Valerie

“When you are sitting at mile 3, please don’t say, ‘You’re almost there!’” —Charlene

Cheer everyone on, not just the person you are waiting for. It really helps runners to have interactive spectators.” —Laura

“Please don’t smoke anywhere near where people are running by!” —Peggy

“If it’s a race where runners’ names are on their bibs, call them by name! That is so motivating for me to hear my name from a random stranger!” —June

“I really think that people need to be aware of the race. I’ve had a few occasions with smaller races where people are walking across the course, getting in the way of runners.” —Bridgett

Joining the runner for a couple of minutes during any point of the race is a nice treat. I had friends and family do that for me when I ran my first full. They didn’t know how I was feeling or what I was thinking, but they seemed to always be there at the perfect time.” —Valentina

Carry a backpack with necessities and things you might want—water and snacks, course map, wallet, camera, etc. It also gives you room to carry things your runner might need or needs to give you.” —Kerri

Don’t look like you hate being there. I love yelling at spectators that look miserable: ‘It’s almost over,’ ‘You’re doing a great job,’ etc.” —Hillary

“When I did a half last fall, my cousins drove to the top of some of the tough hills and cheered me on. It was so helpful!” —Mary Beth