Top tips for supporters
It has taken months of watching your loved one train hard and stick to a strict diet. After countless blisters and sore muscles – the big day is just around the corner. Whilst watching from the sidelines is nowhere near as demanding as taking part yourself the effect of hearing your name cheered when you’re digging deep can often make the difference between finishing on a sprint or hobbling to the line. Whether it’s a fun run dressed up as a chicken, an ultra-walk or a full marathon it’s often the supporters who make the day but how can you best support from behind the barriers during their challenge? Whatever the reason for the run; whether they’re running for a loved one, a special cause, as part of a fitness challenge, or simply to tick it off their bucket list – the race is likely to test runners mentally and physically. Here are our top tips for supporting and motivating participants on their Event Day:
Plan ahead and dress for the weather
Make sure to visit the event organiser’s website, check travel information for the day and familiarise yourself with the route. Plan your journey carefully and take into account that many roads around the route might be closed.
The streets might be busy, so getting there early is essential to guarantee you get the perfect spot.
Check the weather forecast and dress appropriately, although this might be easier said than done considering typical British weather.
Travel light and wear comfy shoes, especially if you expect to be standing around for the day. Carry a backpack so you can bring all the important supplies, such as a map, snacks, water, cash, a camera and mobile phone. A brolly, rain jacket and extra socks are a good idea on the best of days when walking around London, but essentials on a rainy marathon day. On the off chance the sun is out, whip out sunglasses and sun cream.
Catch their eye
Think of a funny, supportive message for your loved one, or encouragement for everyone. One idea could be a gigantic poster with their face on, or a short motivational phrase to give runners an extra push. If you’re supporting a particular charity you can often request a charity banner which will give a push to everyone supporting the same cause.
A welcome pick-me-up
With high sugar content and virtually no fat, jelly beans and gummy sweets are the perfect pick-me-up for an endurance event when participants are needing a boost.
Time it right
Keep track of your favourites, whether they are your friends, family or elite runners, using tracking apps and websites on the day. To try and time seeing a glimpse of your loved one, find out their projected pace per mile ahead of time. Many events will automatically update a participant’s Facebook page with their times and pace at checkpoints to help keep supporters updated and boost the donations.
It might be a good idea to think where to position yourself along the route. There might be a place of particular significance to the runner or they may know when they are going to hit the wall and need a push. Many families tend to hang out at the finish line for the celebratory moment, but that’s not necessarily when the runner needs the most support and you normally have plenty of time to get to the finish line after a mid route cheer.
Agree on a meeting point
Make sure you agree in advance where to meet just in case you don’t spot each other by the finishing line. After an event participants often visit their charity tent, need a massage or take a moment to reflect before joining the queues to collect bags. It can take an hour or so for them to be ready to leave the secure area.
A balloon is a great way to be spotted easily and from a distance as it will always be bobbing above the crowd.
Cheer them on and take lots of photos
As a spectator, you can really boost the mood of a runner in need of a bit of encouragement. Think about the message you want to convey carefully. When you’re sitting at the three-mile mark it might not be the wisest idea to say “You’re almost there!”
“You’re flying!”, “Beast mode!” “Looking good!”, or “keep going” would probably be more along the lines of what a runner might want to hear. Many people will have their name on their vest, this is to help them hear your cheers so do call out for them even if you don’t know them.
A special meal or gift
After months of training and a strict diet, the runner will most likely be more than happy to indulge after the marathon. Book a table at their favourite pub or restaurant or invite friends and family over. It’s always nice to be able to look back at a special moment, so you might want to think of a gift to remember the special day by. Whether it’s a new set of running gear, a customised medal frame, a foam roller for sore muscles, or voucher for a massage – the runner will most likely love the thoughtful sentiment.