You know, I owe my readers a race report for the Bridge the Gap Half Marathon that I ran with my training partner Doug this spring, and I’ve been thinking a little about it. My summary of the race would go:
– Jackie Joyner Kersee (who gave out the medals) was AWESOME. If there’s something better than getting a half marathon medal from an 8 time Olympic Gold Medalist, I can’t think of it.
– Crossing the bridges over the Mississippi in the beginning of the race is BEAUTIFUL.
– The support was pretty good, though they were out of water at the first 2 stops and I don’t drink Gatorade because the sweetness gives me a tummy ache during races (And that’s why I love Nuun…!)
… and that’s about it. Oh, I would probably mention that it was the warmest day Doug and I had run so far for the year and that was a little tough on us. Despite the heat, I cut 9 minutes off my time from the Allerton Trails Half Marathon a few weeks before.
Now readers, don’t get the wrong idea when I tell you my feedback about this race, because I don’t want you to think it was a negative experience! The entire staff of Bridge the Gap does a terrific job of putting together a solid run and should be congratulated for raising a lot of money for MedAssist and for growing the sport of running in Quincy each and every year. The beef I’ve got with BtG as compared to any of the other half marathons I’ve run in the past 2 years is:
Where were all of the spectators?!
I’m not going to lie, when we were hot and exhausted in the endless bottoms of mile 9, I could have really gone for a, “Your feet must hurt from kicking this much butt!” sign. Or how about a poster reading, “Run Faster! Zombies Don’t Like Fast Food!” Or my training partner’s favorite sign, “Worst. Parade. Ever.”
You see, I love the crazy spectators. It’s my favorite thing about a large race. Without the spectators, it’s just another training run out a long and lonesome road. I hit low spots. I want to give up. I want to walk the next 4 miles or perhaps steal a car. I need the energy of a crowd and the encouragement of an electric race environment to keep my mind off my sore knees and to keep me moving forward.
When I was in Little Rock, AR doing my first half marathon, a random person in mile 11 yelled, “Yeah Laura! Doing Great!” when they read my name off my bib.
When I was in Lexington, KY for Run the Bluegrass half marathon there were bands around every corner and crowds of people chanting, “Go, Stranger, Go!”
For the half marathon in Illinois, there was a spectator with a table full of Dixie cups with a sign that said, “Free Tiny Beer for You and Steve!” (I don’t know who Steve is, but I bet he enjoyed his mid-race tiny beer as much as I did.)
At the Allerton Trail Half Marathon (Decatur, IL) – even on a decidedly quieter trail course – there was a section late in the race where a line of 15 people were lined up giving a row of high-fives to the runners who went past.
I love you, crazy fans. I really, really do.
Here’s my suggestion for BtG 2013: We need to get more spectators and awesome signs on the half marathon course! I’m not talking about fans at the start/finish (there were a good number of people in that area) but I’m talking about some hard core, awesome, “Pain is temporary, finishing is forever” sign holders sitting out on lonely mile 8. If at all possible, I’d suggest that said sign holders also dress like 80’s hair bands or perhaps Batman.
Yes. That’s it. I would like 15 people dressed as Batman at mile 8.
So next Spring when you’re asking a friend if they want to run Bridge the Gap with you and despite your pleading they turn you down, tell them they can still help with the race. As a matter of fact… don’t wait. Tell them now. Maybe they can pick up their Batman costumes at an after Halloween sale! Hook them up with a pack of those huge, smelly magic markers and a pile of neon poster board. Get them a cowbell and a tambourine and tell them to go nuts.
This one goes out to you, Crazy Marathon Sign Holder Person. Thank you for all that you do!
And if there comes a day that I’m not running in the race, I’ll still be down there. Look for me at mile 11. I’ll be holding the, “I Think Chaffed Nipples are HOT!” sign. :)