The morning of Saturday, April 24 I didn’t run or race. I didn’t wear my Garmin watch or put on my running shorts. Instead, I cheered for friends at the Race to Wrigley 5k and CARA Lakefront 10-mile races. Being a spectator or a volunteer at races is almost as fun as running in them. You get to be a part of the action without logging as many miles!
I walked from my condo building to near Wrigley Field to meet with Twitter friend Renee. This was our first time meeting in real life, so we had a wonderful time chatting and getting to know each other. As a self-professed non-runner, Renee impressed me with her enthusiasm as a spectator. We admired the fast runners, the older runners, the pre-teen runners, and the slow runners. We were there to celebrate their accomplishments in one of Chicago’s most famous neighborhoods. After the race, Renee and I met with fellow Twitter friends, including Mari (of social media small business fame @foiledcupcakes), who ran her first 5k race to commemorate gathering 5,000 followers on Twitter!
Next on my agenda – I walked to the lakefront to watch friends running a longer race – the CARA Lakefront 10-mile. I cheered for runners passing the ninth mile, gradually making my way to the finish line and race site to meet my friends Kathleen, Connie, Marie, and Dana. I hugged each of them and asked how the race went. My morning was filled with sweaty hugs and endless chatter about running.
This day reminded me of one of my favorite races to be a spectator – the 2009 Chicago Marathon. While taking the CTA to various parts of the marathon course, I spotted friends and cheered for runners who displayed their names on shirts and jackets. Just a few words offer such a boost for these athletes taking one step at a time towards the finish line. If you are not running the 2010 Chicago Marathon, I hope you will be out there to cheer for us runners!
Ever thought about volunteering at races? It is simple to sign up and you meet wonderful people while earning a t-shirt or even a race entry. You may be asked to do anything from assemble race packets and goody bags to offering water at aid stations to handing out finishers medals. Check websites such as Active, CARA, and Chicago Events for a list of races and details on how you can volunteer. Contact Fleet Feet Chicago if you want to be a hydration station volunteer. During marathon training season (June to October), Fleet Feet provides free water and Gatorade at various parts of the lake front running path. It’s a fun way to meet and greet runners and cyclists during the hot summer months.
In case you were wondering if I ever did run that weekend. I did. The next morning, I raced the Ravenswood Run 5k and achieved a personal record! It was a great weekend of accomplishments and encouragement. I hope you will join me the next time I cheer at a race.