I’m not racing tomorrow. This is the first time I haven’t raced South Riding Triathlon in 3 years and it feels strange. But, at the same time, it gives me a great opportunity to cheer on my TPR teammates and I will be out in full force on the bike course with my flag and cowbell, at the bottom of a short hill that comes right after a turn, and you bet I’ll be yelling at people to move it! There will be some “motivational” chalk messages on the road to help those who need the extra boost, too.
Because spectating is a sport in itself and there are some who could do with training, here are my six tips on how to be a good race spectator.
1. You Don’t Know Me But Cheer for Me Anyway!
Some spectators only cheer for their “person.” They make a special sign, drive goodness-knows-how far to the race site, stand for possibly hours, all to say “Go, [insert name]!” when said person passes them. The rest of the time they stand, silently, staring at the other racers, occasionally muttering “when will he be here? I think I see him! Go!…oh no, that’s not him…maybe a few more minutes…” Seriously, how boring must this be? As a racer, I find it slightly annoying but mostly funny to pass these types of spectators. They can’t be having any fun. So, if you’re coming out to a race to cheer on your person, cheer for everyone else, too. We really liked to be cheered on by people we don’t know. Makes us feel like celebrities!
2. Lie To Me
I know I look like shit. I know I’m sweaty and gross and have drool coming from my mouth and look like I’m gonna pass out any minute, but lie to me and tell me “looking good!” or “looking strong!” Because it really makes a difference. You may step back while saying this so you don’t have to smell me.
3. Stay the Hell Out of My Way
I mean this in the nicest way, but please, stay back. If you get too close I may freak out, especially if I’m on the bike, and you don’t want to be responsible for a wreck. Also, please don’t run across the road right in front of me. If it’s late in the race I cannot possibly swerve to avoid you, as my body refuses to respond to sudden commands, and if it’s early you’re gonna cause me to break my stride and that’s equally dangerous.
4. Make Some Noise!
I love cowbells, so ring yours to your heart’s content. In consideration of fellow spectators who may not like them so much, I recommend switching locations from time to time. At Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in April there was a man with a very loud gong near the end of the race and all I could think was, “Dear God, those poor people standing near him!” So be loud and proud but move around!
5. Please Don’t Use the Portapotty Prior to the Race
Look, I know you have needs, but if at all possible, please could you hold it until the race starts? You’ll have the potties all to yourself then. It’s really hard to wait an eternity in line only to see a non-racer emerge from my special pre-race place.
6. Thank You.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being a spectator. You have no idea (well, maybe you do) how much spectators mean to racers. Without you it’s just like a training event that costs money. So please keep coming out, cheering for us, waving your signs, ringing your cowbells, and banging your gongs. I love it.
Do you have other tips for spectators? How about tips for racers?