In Community

It has been an atypical running year for me. Usually I average one race a month with a couple key races a year to which my training is focused. But this year I have raced only a handful of times due to a variety of setbacks including chronically tight hamstrings, scheduling conflicts and lack of motivation. Rather than forcing workouts or racing just to race, Tad and I agreed to call it. We cancelled any up-coming races and used the remainder of the summer to do things that we typically cannot do under the constraints of a tight workout and recovery schedule.

Taking a break has given me the opportunity to play a different role at races: the spectator. While I love the thrill and excitement of everything that encompasses running a race, there is an equally − if not more − joyful feeling watching others fight to the finish line.

 

maria-at-squamish-waiting-for-finishers

Getting in some mountains miles while waiting on the Squamish 50 racers to finish.

 

There are few situations that I encounter that elicit such a ‘Mother Teresa’ effect on me than when watching a race. I feel an intense desire to assist the runners in any way possible to succeed. I want to untie mud-caked shoelaces, zip up jackets for numb hands, pick up discarded clothing and give away all of my extra calories. I want to yell ahead to the gang of stroller-pushers to clear the way and scold owners for not keeping their dogs on a leash.

Knowing and understanding what goes on behind the scenes, from all of the preparation it takes to get to the starting line healthy, to all of the miles logged, to all of the hard workouts and to dealing with the inevitable setbacks, I feel such a strong connection with the racers, even to those I have never met. The adrenaline rush I feel watching finishers come through the chute surprises me. I am equally moved by the first place finisher all the way to the last place finisher.

 

trail-sister-scarlett

Helping my Trail Sister Scarlett untie her shoes after her stellar 50-mile debut performance at the Squamish 50.

 

Spectating gives me perspective. It gets me out of my head and allows me to invest in something other than my personal pursuits. It reignites my passion for running and inspires me to push myself out of my comfort zone. Being a spectator gives me an unwavering appreciation for our sport and the community that makes it so special.

Call for comments:

What is your favorite race to be a spectator and not a racer?

What is your most inspiring memory from watching a race?

Share your Support!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Lauren Steinheimer
    Reply

    Sweet photos and great post!
    I love volunteering at races whenever I can’t run them. Last year was similar for me. Upcoming races just started feeling too stressful because of health issues and a demanding new job. Taking some time to chill and spectate helped me remember that races are supposed to be FUN!
    Now I’m back in action again, and feeling better than ever!
    Lauren

  • Pam
    Reply

    I love spectating! So far I’ve done it from 5ks up to marathons, and it is so much fun. I’ve been injured on and off for the past three years, and spectating/volunteering at races really helps with the perspective and allows me to stay close to the sport I love. I prefer the longest distances and the trails, for the combination of gorgeous scenery and the opportunity to see athletes go deep into the pain cave and come back out.

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