May 10, 2013
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
People I saw
Also from Square One Running Room: Danielle, Iva, Bob, Phil, Zhike, Andrew, Rob, Tony (fastest walker in the half-marathon)
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.