May 10, 2013

Cheering On The Mississauga Marathon!

This was a new experience for me: On Sunday, May 5 I was a spectator for a Marathon, the Mississauga Marathon and half-marathon. With all the build-up and training everyone else is doing, it was hard not to be frustrated that I was unable to do this race. But, being injured as I was, withdrawing from this race and not being a pacer was preferable to further injury and/or a pacing failure like Chilly.

The whole photoset is available here (big file, 192 MB)!

In preparation for this “race” I think I looked at the maps more carefully than even if I was racing. Getting around to various cheering points and avoiding the road closures was a challenge itself!

After finishing the Mississauga 10k on Saturday night, I got home and finished my sign. I’m quite proud of it. I even laid out my clothes and gear as if I was going to a race!

I got up bright and early to get to the starting area to meet up with my clinic. To my surprise my neighbour’s son-in-law was parking in front of my neighbour’s home as I was going out. I noticed he was wearing a race bib. He said he was doing the half and asked me how to get to the starting line. So I drove him then parked my car in a designated lot.

I walked to the start surrounded by runners. They all looked so intense and serious. Like scary focused and intense! Is that what I’m like before a race?!

I missed the Team Dailymile meetup picture. But met up with most of my marathon clinic and many other Square One Running Room friends. This is our home turf after all! I gave some last minute suggestions and sent them to the starting line while playing “Chariots of Fire” on my handheld speaker.

Square One Running Room Marathon Clinic and friends
Square One Running Room Marathon Clinic and friends

 

At this point it was just the marathon cheer team and me. Joining me was Jack who was in the clinic but got injured, and Aashish who was the son of someone in my clinic running the marathon.

The Troublemakers before performing "O Canada"
The Troublemakers before performing “O Canada”

We got some pictures of people in the corrals and then went to the starting line. We were able to see the pre-race ceremony like the national anthem, MC Rob Black making jokes, and Mayor Hazel McCallion counting down to the start. She counted down way too fast for 10 seconds and I imagine the race started several seconds early because of that.

And They’re Off!

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After everyone left the start corral, the area was eerily empty. 4000+ people were gone in a matter of minutes. And it was kinda funny to see the long row of porta-potties completely abandoned.

Wall of porta-potties...
Wall of porta-potties…

 

The cheer team collected our gear and we headed to Jacks Jeep. This was a nice way to get around because Jack’s Jeep was luxurious and comfortable, and Jack is a very good driver! I navigated.

We scooted across the city and made it to the first turn around 5km (Burnhamthorpe and Mississauga Road) before anyone from our group arrived. I was disappointed how quiet it was there so I cranked my handheld speaker. We saw almost everybody.

Runners turning on the Mississauga Road from Burnhamthorpe
Runners turning on the Mississauga Road from Burnhamthorpe

Then we hustled to get to the 15km point. We knew we weren’t going to get to park right beside that area because of the road closures, but we got pretty close and walked the rest of the way. We needed to take a lot of side streets to get as close as we did! I chose this point because it’s where the half and full marathons split. Again lots of people standing politely and quietly. There’s a section at the end of this e-mail with instructions for race spectators! So I cranked the rock music again. Some other spectators cast disapproving looks.

Crowd thinned out a bit around 15km of the Mississauga Marathon
Crowd thinned out a bit around 15km of the Mississauga Marathon

 
There was a funny thing I saw on Facebook that says you only see someone for 4 seconds during the marathon. It’s so true! The runners are gone so fast! At least I had more than a dozen people to wait for.

The cheer team! Aashish, Jack and me (I'm taking the picture...)
The cheer team! Aashish, Jack and me (I’m taking the picture…)

We handed out some nutrition people were expecting as per our pre-arranged plan. We treated them like elites today! We couldn’t wait for everyone though because we had to book it to the next point if we expected to get there before the first runners in our group. Fortunately, as I said before, Jack is a very good driver!

We parked pretty far from Orr Road and Lakeshore Road West, and walked the rest of the way. This point was chosen very strategically. Because of an out-and-back it is the 22km and 26km point of the marathon route, and the only such point in the whole race.

Our sign got a lot of reactions. It said “SMILE You’ll Run Faster.” One guy said “it works!” Another runner was less convinced and asked “Promise?” And someone else snarked “It Doesn’t Work!” Several people commented that they’d seen the sign several times by then. It was also see people voluntarily or involuntarily smiling when they read the sign.

Holding the sign and cheering around the 26km mark of the Mississauga Marathon
Holding the sign and cheering around the 26km mark of the Mississauga Marathon

The expressions some runners had at 26km was touching. Some were obviously in intense pain. Some were feeling very exerted because of the heat. They were very expressive and still had a long way to go!

I took this photo at Orr Road and Lakeshore Road West (26km of Mississauga Marathon). Patty is on the left, and Sam is on the right. This is one of the most liked photos I ever uploaded to Facebook...
I took this photo at Orr Road and Lakeshore Road West (26km of Mississauga Marathon). Patty is on the left, and Sam is on the right. This is one of the most liked photos I ever uploaded to Facebook…

While watching, the pacers gave a very good idea of who was where. Seeing each pacer gave us an idea of when we’d see people. I noticed there was no 4:30 or 4:45 pacer. That was my fault. Sorry everyone.

Nicole is so photogenic... even 26km into a marathon
Nicole is so photogenic… even 26km into a marathon

And then there was that lady Lorraine from Nicole’s Marathon Clinic at the Winston Churchill Running Room who calls me Waldo. Long story: When I was supporting the 33km training run a few weeks ago, Lorraine remarked that she kept seeing me everywhere as if it was a Where’s Waldo game. I tried to tell her my name was Paul, not Waldo!

After a while at 26k and seeing almost everyone, we made one more drive. This time we parked on a side street really close to the finish line. We camped at a shaded spot about 200m from the finish.

Nobel closing in on the finish line!
Nobel closing in on the finish line!

Daneen and Don from the Square One Running Room were camped out about 1km from the finish. Daneen sent me a text message when someone she recognised passed her, giving us a heads up that our group members were coming.

Runners were giving anything they had left in that last stretch of narrow path. I even saw Lorraine again who was literally being dragged by a couple of other girls. When she passed I heard her whimper “Waldo…”

Here’s a funny story Larry told me after the race: He was close to the finish but stopped for a walk break. A spectator, who Larry suspects already finished the race, wouldn’t let him stop. She grabbed him by the arm and wouldn’t let him stop so close to the finish line.

The promised finish line!
The promised finish line!

 

People I saw

From Square One Running Room Marathon Clinic: Nobel, Larry, Melissa, Dio, Nagini, Amar. All finished their first marathon!

Also from Square One Running Room: Danielle, Iva, Bob, Phil, Zhike, Andrew, Rob, Tony (fastest walker in the half-marathon)

DM Friends: Alan, J Pierre M, Nicole, Sam J, Patty, Henry, Roxane, Emma, Lyndsey

And contrats to friends running Goodlife half: Hong, Dawn, Peg, Ray, Lisa, Andrea

And HUGE congratulations to friends who ran the Goodlife Full: Linda, Mike, Henry. Linda qualified for the Boston Marathon! As far as I know, she’s the first person from the Square One Running Room to qualify for Boston! I am a proud coach!

 Sorry if I missed anyone! I’m proud of all of you too!! 

 

Instructions for Spectators

I think a document like this needs to be circulated for anyone and everyone attending a race. I suppose they don’t know what to do.

DON’T BLOCK THE ROUTE! I had to yell at a lot of people to stay off the path in the last 500m of the course. Marathoner’s have come a long way and don’t need to dodge you on the path. I saw someone almost trip on a kid taking a bike across the path.

DON’T JUST STAND THERE. It’s actually pretty disheartening to see dozens of people standing silently watching you suffer. Hold a sign! Cheer! Make some noise! Something!

When we got to the 5km point to cheer people on, there was a small number of spectators, and some were just clapping politely like this was golf or tennis or something.

USE NOISEMAKERS! When we got to the 5km point to cheer people on, there was a small number of spectators, and some were just clapping politely like this was golf or tennis or something. On the opposite side of the spectrum, as awesome as it is to hear someone cheering or clapping, it can get really tiring for the spectator after a while with sore hands or throat. My cheer group had a cowbell, tambourine, bike horn and handheld speakers connected to an iPod. No shouting necessary. You “distract” and encourage the runners without wearing our your throat or hands.

Thank you!


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7 Comments »

  1. Woa! I guess I didn’t see all of those porta-poties by the start line. There’re so many!!!

    It’s uber nice of you to come out and cheer 🙂 The atmosphere of the race was great 😀

  2. Sam says:

    Awesome post Paul! It was great seeing you out there on Sunday! I agree about the energy level of the spectators. The Lulu cheer squad was at 37k and even though I was dead I still put my arms up and cheered when I ran by them.

  3. Andrea says:

    Great post! Sounds like you put as much effort into cheering as you do into pacing which is great to see. Thanks for the shout out too!

  4. macnic says:

    As you know, I did this last year at STWM and it can be just as fun as running. Great job, Paul.

  5. […] In the Summer of 2012 I lead my first full-marathon clinic with Amar Sandhu. That was an intense experience, but we enjoyed it. And now Amar and I have finished the winter 2013 marathon clinic. Our group crushed the Mississauga Marathon! […]

  6. […] I feel like I’ve packed for a second event! I’ve got portable speakers, a tambourine, and the cowbell from this year’s Chilly Half-Marathon! Some of you may recognize this sign from when I was cheering at the Mississauga Marathon last spring. […]

  7. […] Equiped to cheer! I wonder if anyone recognized it from when I had this sign at the Mississauga Marathon […]