After breaking my ankle and having two ankle surgeries several years ago, I was able to learn the role as spectator for several of my hubby’s races that year. It also allowed me to be able to watch him complete his first Ironman. I will never forget that day. The picture to the right is what I wore that day. It is actually super fun being a spectator, too!
As an athlete, it is great to have spectators out on the course. If you are having a tough day, it helps so much know that your spectator(s) will be up ahead to cheer you on. If you are having a great day, you get to share that experience with them!
Location, location, location…
After you have signed up for an event, you will want to think about your event crew/spectators. How close is this event to where your friends and family live? Is it realistic for them to be able to travel to the race? Are there friends or family that you would like to invite to spend the day with you?
Communication is such a huge part in having an event crew. Let them know well in advanced when the day of your event is, so they can be available to help out. They might have to take the day off from work or arrange childcare. Let them know that it would mean a lot for you to be there. A lot of planning and coordinating can be involved to make it a great experience for both the spectator and the athlete.
Decide ahead of time where they will meet you on race day. Will they meet you at your house? If you are traveling for the race, will they meet you at your hotel? Are they staying with you? Will they meet you at the race course? What time will you meet them? It is important that they are on time, so they don’t add more stress to your morning. What time does the race start?
Race day preparation
Make sure that your spectators know where they are going. Where is the race located? Do they have directions? Make sure they have access to a race map. Make sure that they wear comfortable clothes and shoes. It might be a long day for them too, depending on the length of the race. They might want to bring a backpack with layers of clothing, a hat, sunglasses, water and snacks, etc.
Put them to work!
Politely let them know what they can help you with. If it is an ultra-marathon, they might be able to help you have a tent, food, drinks and change of clothes available. Would you like them to have signs out to cheer you on? If they are out running errands for an all day event, is there something that you need while they are out and about?
If they are meeting you along the course, where do they plan to spectate from? What will they be wearing? Encourage them to wear bright clothes so it is easier for you to find them. It will also help them to find you if you are wearing brighter clothes as well. Depending on the race course, there are sometimes tracking app options. Do you want to send them with a backpack with a change of clothes for after your race? Where will they meet you after the race?
Athletic events can be such a rewarding experience for both the athlete and the spectator if there is clear communication about the plans for the day ahead of time. If there isn’t clear communication on both ends, it can be a long frustrating day for both the spectator and the athlete alike. So much of that can easily be avoided. While I wish that I could have been able to participate in more races the year I broke my ankle, it allowed my to be able to watch several of my hubby’s races that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to watch. It was also great to see things from the spectator’s point of view. I am back competing again this year, it will still be great to be able to spectate a few of my hubby’s races this year, including Ironman Kentucky.
Heather is a Moxie Cycling Ambassador and blog contributor. Get out her bio here!