How not to treat race spectators.

Something happened to me at Mr. Neon’s marathon yesterday, which I wasn’t sure I was going to blog about but have decided to.  It’s about the way that runners treat sppectators.  Particularly in small races like the Thames Meander Marathon, which is not a big, closed road race, but a very small one that shares 100% of its path with others.  As it happens, the place that Mr. Neon and I had decided that I would be was a good one that had a few other families waiting there for their runners (though, I want to say that I was the only one who stayed after my runner went though, and no one was cheering other runner’s until I arrived and started doing so – more on this in the weekly wrap up, though.)

Every runner than went by (well, every racer – there were a lot of non-racing runners as this was the very popular Thames Path…) I cheered for by clapping and saying something.  Usually ‘great running’ or ‘great job’ or something similar because that’s what I like to hear (not ‘nearly there’ or any other such nonsense!).  Of the 250 odd runners that went by me (I was there for several hours) they all responded – from a huge ‘Thanks’ and thumbs up, to a small wave or ‘I’m hurting but thanks anyway’ grunt.

That is – everyone except one.  A woman who was running with a (very amazing, and very expensive) running buggy.  Her kid was about 6 months old (we’d seen them at registration) and she was a triathelete. 

She pointed at the Neon Toddler’s buggy and said ‘maybe next year you should participate.’

Um.  Fuck you. 

For several reasons. 

1. I’ve been running with my kid in a buggy for a long time and at 6 months it’s easy to throw them in there and head off on a four hour run.  At 2… that same 4 hour run would be a NIGHTMARE of epic proportions.

2. How dare you make assumptions about my life and what I do.  As my sister later pointed out if she’d stopped to think for a few moments then she’d realise that I clearly have some connection to running.  A person who doesn’t care about running (or care about a runner) doesn’t stand out in the rain waiting for them to shoot by.  She’d be able to tell I was the former becasue I was clapping and cheering for all the runners, not just mine.

3. I might not have been running yesterday, but I was still participating.  Particularly in very small races where there aren’t many spectators, and the ones that are on the course usually only cheer and clap for their own runner, being a specator who does get involved is participating in the race.  249-odd other runners acknowledged that.

So, I’m a little bit annoyed by this (so much that I’m blogging at ten to 6 on a race morning!), will include more positive stuff in the weekly roundup on Monday.



4 thoughts on “How not to treat race spectators.

    • Neon Anonymous says:

      Yes, it’s true – particularly 30km into a marathon. I’m absoultely sure that this woman didn’t mean to make that kind of assumption about me. It was, in part, the tone of her voice that riled me up (but again, 30km into a marathon…)
      That’s why I wasn’t orignally going to blog about the whole thing, but over twelve hours later and I’m still thinking about it, so I decided to. I don’t want to publically shame anyone (although it would be fairly obvious to anyone who was at the marathon who this woman was, which I supposee is unfortunate).

  1. runner1313 says:

    I try to appreciate all the spectators. They truly make the race, as well as the volunteers. All are very important to our success as runners. I try to acknowledge folks as much as I can. Cheers for being out there supporting, and don’t let that one woman’s remarks get you riled up. You were appreciated by 99% of the runners. That’s pretty great!

    • Neon Anonymous says:

      It is pretty great, and I agree wholeheartedly that spectators and (especially) volunteers make all races. It’s a shame that this is what has dominated my thoughts about this race.

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