Thursday, October 24, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Spectator Edition

One of the highlights of my week was finding a collection of photos online from Sunday's half marathon. All taken by spectators, donating their time to be out on the course, offering up their photography skills, and then sharing their photos for free. This is a gift I treasure.  If you're a regular racer at big events, you know that race photography is expensive. However, the perfect photos can keep those wonderful memories alive. And whenever you hit that slump, all you have to do is flip album pages to rediscover your #runjoy.

My favorite is this one at Sunday's finish line... I had no idea who the lady was, but was so happy to discover this picture on Facebook. It may be my profile picture forever...

I am not racing this weekend. Whew, it's been awhile since I've said that. Oddly enough, it took a lot of determination to keep it that way. There's a pretty cool event in our town this weekend... the Screaming Pumpkin Marathon & Relay. I was invited to be on three different teams in the past two weeks... and I was oh. so. tempted.

Unlike other races, anyone can win this race; running fast means nothing! It's a prediction race... participants begin running any time after 6pm and ideally finish right on the stroke of midnight. No watches or clocks are allowed. Costumes galore... and a ton of HILLS through a heavily wooded cemetery. All finishers who make it back before midnight receive a wand and a tiara; finish after midnight and you get a pumpkin.

I plan to pack a few beers, head out into the darkness Friday night and give my friends support with some big cheers! Light-up costume necessary. One of these years, I'll actually run it...

The topic of cowbells were brought up in one of my running group forums. Evidently, there are runners who despise cowbells at races. One man brought it up because there were some people (my kids) at this past Sunday's half ringing them. His exact words... "Nothing more than a cacophony of irritating noise!"  (Now those could be words to describe my kids at times, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about the actual cowbell.)  I couldn't help but think those are strong words against someone who came out to cheer for you. Geesh, how people love to critic...
I am one talented spectator.
I can ring 3 cowbells at once... in each hand.

If we're going to analyze spectators' cheers, I understand that the "best cheers" are when people use the perfect words at just the right time to make you feel re-energized. That is perfect world. But have you ever been a spectator? Man, it's a lot of work to vocally cheer non-stop for 2+ hours, especially when most runners just ignore you. I know because I've done it.  Honestly, it can be more exhausting that actually running the miles myself. So sometimes you use a bell, clapper and yes, a cowbell, to fill the gap of quiet until you can produce more saliva to form words.

I absolutely love spectators and any noise/energy that they can bring to the race course. There's pretty much nothing that irritates me... well, except when they crowd/block the course. But my motto is BRING THE THUNDER! In fact, I've been known to yell out "Make Some Noise" or "More Cowbell!" when running past silent crowds. I truly appreciate their presence and enjoy the energetic distraction.

Obviously, I am in the dark on this subject, because I had no idea runners felt any different.
What do you think - YEA or NAY to the cowbell at races?

P.S. - If NAY is your vote, you're gonna want to avoid the Mo' Cowbell Marathon (self explanatory, I believe...) and other races like Hartford (where they actually deliver cowbells to the residents on the course in hopes that they'll come outside and cheer).


  1. Jess, the SS cheer spot also had a cowbell, so he might not have been referring to your kids.

    I am fine with cowbells, they don't seem annoying at all.

    BTW, that's a really great picture of you and your family.

  2. Great photo, and amazing that it was free!

    If you need a good light up option that's fun, I just saw that Target has LED mohawks in the party favor isle for $4. $4!!! I almost bought one to have on spec, but realized I never do things in the dark and decided to save my cash.

    And my longest comment ... the cowbell. How could someone say something so mean? Spectators that cheer for complete strangers have a newfound respect from me ever since I flipped sides and spectated at the TC Marathon a few weeks back (feel free to read my blog about it: ). I say nutz to that guy, and cheers to you for holding 3 bells (!!!) while you support the runners. Any kind of cheering is A-OK with me.

  3. Awesome photo at the finish line! The race spectating this weekend sounds fun and would be a fun race to run as well.
    I think cowbells and crowd support is a must at races especially in the parts that people struggle its nice hearing someone say keep it up or cheering or using cowbells.

  4. I love cow bells at races. And any other type of noise maker. I have cheered at enough events that your hands get sore from clapping and you lose your voice from yelling. Cow bells solve that.

  5. I say ya! The more cheering the better! And I try really hard to acknowlege people who are cheering. It's not easy!

  6. I've been injured since August, and I've been cheering at races. It is really difficult, and it's true that most runners ignore me. I took my kids with me to the Akron Marathon (my favorite race, and I was heartbroken not to run it this year), and my 6 year old yelled, "There's beer at the end!" I wonder where he got that? Those runners appreciated it!

  7. I guess if I were really miserable while running, cowbells might be annoying. OTOH, it's not ALL about me, is it? How did you find the pictures on FB? One thing I loved when I ran Color Me Rad was that there were professional photographers present & the picture files were super cheap to purchase. Too bad race photos weren't always so reasonable.

  8. I love that picture! It's so great!

    As for cowbells...I have a love/hate relationship with them. The only "love" portion is Will Ferrell. Period. My loathing stems from my mother. I played soccer as a kid and she would shake a cowbell at all of the games she was able to attend. Drove me crazy because I was so embarrassed.

  9. What a great picture!!! I love cowbells...pretty sure they pass them out in Boston too!! I remember Heartbreak Hill being packed with them!

  10. YES on the cowbells! I always love the encouragement... & always wish I had some when I'm standing on the sidelines!

  11. I love the sound of cowbells at a race. The more the merrier.

  12. Great picture!

    I don't mind the cowbells. And I did not know that they were delivered to the residents that live along the course.

    What I really, really don't like is the yelling and screaming. I've been in races in which spectators have cheered and that was fine but other have literally yelled and screamed and THAT I find annoying. Oh well, that's just me.

  13. i tell you what, some people just LOVE to complain about anything. I don't mind cowbells, however I do get more of a pep from a funny creative sign than anything. I still remember from 2011 a sign in MIchigan that read "run like a cullen" and there was the twilight signature "apple in hand" drawn on it... i laughed about it for at least a mile

  14. I am pro cowbell! Like you, I have spectated for a long time and lose my voice and the cowbell helps out with that.

    I LOVE that pic of you and your fam! What a treasure! How cool that they had a place for all those pics :)

    I want to do that race some year!

  15. That guy complains about EVERYTHING! Seriously, these people came out to cheer you on! Unless someone is smoking on the sidelines, appreciate them being there!

  16. I can't believe you aren't racing, I swear you do more races in a weekend than I do in a year, HA! Ok maybe not but you have a lot of great race reports. GOOOOO cowbells

  17. YAY!!! to cowbells!!! I don't think they are annoying at all. And I always try to give a little wave when spectators cheer for me. Their encouragement really does help!!

  18. I love cow bells and I agree, the more noise and cheering the better!!


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