I don’t care what anyone says, running is a great spectator sport. Sure you could go to a hockey game or a football game or Formula 1 even, but with all those sporting events, you’ll be shilling out some good coin. A good running race, though, is free, nada, zilch, zero dollars! And that’s only one of its redeeming qualities.
I’d never been a spectator before, well, for a running race that is. I was in fact a spectator at the Giro d’Italia, but that didn’t count because I was too busy seeking out Lance and Mark Cavendish (oh yum!). I was also a spectator at Mario’s Gran Fondo last year, but that too didn’t really count, because while I had my eyes peeled for him the entire time (him and Trevor Linden (double yum!)) I was also volunteering which didn’t exactly allow for the full effect of being a spectator. And so, until yesterday, I had no idea really what it meant to be a spectator, and truth be told, I didn’t really desire to be one. I was a runner, not a spectator, why would I possibly want to be the one standing on the sidelines? But as I learned yesterday morning, there are many reasons.
The most important: Friends.
On Sunday morning, several of my favourite running peeps were competing in Vancouver’s First Half, an esthetically pleasing half marathon course that starts in Yaletown and goes along the Seawall and other beautiful parts of Vancouver and ends back in Yaletown. And while I would have loved to have been racing along with them, the timing of the race didn’t work out for me, so a couple of my favourite running chicks and I took on the Cheering Crew role … with signs and all! (Oh yes I did make those signs :D)
And while I knew what it was like to run a half marathon – the feelings of excitement, nerves, exhaustion, relief, exhilaration, disappointment – I had no idea what it would be like to be standing on the sidelines. I thought maybe I’d be jealous not running with them, but that wasn’t the case at all. Quite the opposite in fact. My belly filled with flutters of excitement as I waited for my friends to come around the corner with one hand holding the camera and the other holding the sign. And when I caught the first glimpse of them nearing the finish line, it was as though a colony of butterflies erupted in my belly as I watched them push with all their might those last seconds before achieving that well-earned finishing goal. And oh man did I ever put my voice to work cheering them on right to the end. That, my friends, is a feeling that will never be forgotten.
(I apologize for the photos, my camera has been acting up … even in still shots!)
The only potential downfall of watching these races is comparing the fastest dudes and dudettes with my time. The fastest guy (who was wearing yellow sneakers, which plays into Carol’s theory of yellow shoes being a winning colour) came in at 1:04:39 and the fastest chick at 118:48. Subtract 7 minutes from the fastest dude’s time and you’ll get my fastest 10k – that’s double that! But, I look much happier finishing my races; by the looks of their strained faces, they were either mondo serious or in great amounts pain.
Have you ever spectated a race? What was your favourite part?