We need water, we need porta-potties, we need a place to put our stuff, we need… we need… we need. For the most part, our dedicated race directors take care of our wants and needs, but one thing they cannot offer us is the encouragement we crave when we set out on the course and are miles away from the finish line.
This is where the spectators step up!
So, to you spectators, let me extend my virtual hand and heart in a show of thanks for your essential but often overlooked role in helping us reach our marathon goals.
To the family members and friends, waiting for hours on the side of the road, hoping to glimpse a loved one for mere seconds– we salute your love.
To those who decorate lavish signs with phrases of encouragement - we read them and imagine they were written just for us.
To the children who’ve been dragged out of bed, with their hair still tangled and jammies keeping them warm - you lighten our hearts.
To the neighbors whose homes are along the race route - we thank you for letting us block your driveways and wake you with our early morning racket.
To the volunteers who tirelessly manage their duties and still muster the strength to cheer us on - we appreciate your stamina.
To the law enforcement officers who take the time to applaud in between directing traffic -
we owe you so much.
To the local community center volunteers, entertainers, high school cheerleaders, and store managers who line up to high-five and scream as we run by, you add a smile to our chapped lips.
To the coaches encouraging your team with tidbits of advice - we are listening too.
To the runners turned spectators who finish their races and stay to cheer on their fellow
athletes – you embrace the essence of the day.
To the generous friends who hand out orange slices and red licorice – we welcome the chance to digest something besides sports gels.
To those who say we’re “lookin’ good” at mile 20, we appreciate your lies. We know what we look like but that you mean well.
To you and so many others who encourage our continued footsteps with your words! You are all the unsung heroes of the race, the participants who are often overlooked…unless, of course, you fail to show up and then we miss you incredibly. Without you, the road is quiet. Without you we can hear, too loudly, the voices in our heads saying that we need to stop, that this isn’t fun anymore, that we just can’t. Your cheers strengthen us even as our hamstrings scream out in pain, as tears stream down our cheeks, as our muscles tire. You shout “GO” and we have faith that we can. We cherish your spirit. Please keep coming – we need you!