We are here, it is MCM weekend. If you are running we have you covered but what if you are on the cheer squad? There is an art and science to being an effective and happy race fan. Tess Stryk, Assistant Manager at Pacers Clarendon, offers all of the guidance you need to be the best on the course this weekend.
Number one on any fan packing list is enthusiasm. You watched your friends go through months of training (and complaining about training), this is your turn to show them how much you really cared about hearing the details of their nutritional concerns, shoe research, and all-around running hoopla. One of the worst things that can happen is that you’ll miss them in the crowd and not see them again until they’ve gotten their medal. You have to make a plan. Agree on a mile marker or well-known landmark where you’ll be and make yourself visible to your runner (We’ve got two cheer stations planned if you’re not sure where to go). Live tracking on the race webpage will make it easy to tell when they’re getting close and when to pump up the volume! Knowing the outfit your runner is wearing helps too, especially if it’s something that will stand out in the crowd!
Christopher Walken said is best, ‘more cowbell’ is crucial to any successful cheering section of a marathon. If you’re short on bovine instruments, posters, pom poms, and a positive attitude will be more than enough to pull you (and your runner) through. Speaking of posters, this is a great chance to call out your individual runner or bring a little piece of joy to the the participants, the funnier, wilder, and more colorful the better!
For Staying Comfy:
Sunday’s weather is expected to be in the mid-50s for the 8 am start time, and then quickly increase into the 70s before noon. This will be tough on the runners, but a light jacket should be enough for you to stay warm and cool as the race goes on. That being said, if you’re waiting by the finish for your runner, you could be out there for four or more hours and you’ll need a little more than a hoodie to stay comfortable. We’d also recommend a pair of shoes you’ll be happy on your feet all day in, sunscreen or a hat, and an assortment of sacks and beverages that will keep your intensive cheering fully fueled. Those who are fully committed to the fan lifestyle will bring folding chairs, blankets, stereos, grills, coolers…you name it, someone has brought it. It’s up to you where you draw the line on practical versus excessive.
The Insider Tips:
Professional marathoners, and professional marathon cheering sections, know that preparation is key to keeping this Sunday a success. Here’s a few of our insider tips we’ve learned throughout the years:
- Hand sanitizer is your friend. High fives and questionable facilities during cold and flu season will have you reaching for that trusty bottle of the good stuff, don’t be an amateur and leave it behind.
- Public Transportation. D.C. and Arlington both have ample public transportation and limited parking. Last year nearly 20,000 folks finished the race and you can bet they had someone cheering on the course for them. The easiest way to get around traffic due to road closures and difficult parking is to skip it entirely by taking the metro or a bus wherever you need to be.
- Lunch Reservations. Remember those 20,000 people? You can bet they worked up an appetite during those 26.2 miles. Some runners might want to go straight home for a good shower and a cold one, others may want to grab a hot meal out. If your loved one is part of the latter, we’d strongly recommend making a reservation if you want to visit a popular spot and beat out 19,999 of the fellow finishers.
- Refills. Only the most committed of marathon fan can be trusted with the all important refills for your runner. They might need a fresh water bottle full of tailwind, a couple extra GUs, or a banana. Whatever it is, you’re their one and only personal aid station and they’re counting on you to get it right.
The Number One Requirement:
Marine Corps Weekend comes but once a year. About a third of MCM runners are competing in their first marathon. This isn’t Boston or New York where you’ll see some blazing fast times (okay, you will see some of those), but this is the people’s marathon. Newbies are nervous and excited, which just fuels the high energy atmosphere. No matter what, it’s important to enjoy the experience and uplift those around you.