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My favourite spectator sport

Nope, it’s not hockey: it’s the Marathon!

I like to watch the National Capital Marathon from Dow’s Lake, opposite the Man With Two Hats. They’ve run about 37km at that point, and they’ve got about 4 or 5 km to go. Most of them are tired and hurt and they need all the moral support they can get.

Cloud of Kenyans
Here come the front-runners: the cloud of Kenyans. They’re so fast I barely have time to take their picture. They run together for much of the marathon, but the real race begins for them when they sprint for the finish line. They’re impressive, but not as impressive as the runners still miles and miles away.

Blur of KenyansThe elite athletes only have to run for a couple of hours, during the coolest part of the day, and it’s probably pretty easy when you’ve got ridiculously long legs and you run marathons for a living.

Lead Woman
After the Kenyans and Ethiopians comes the Lead Woman. She’s Canadian and she won last year and this year.

My heroes are the stragglers. They run all day, through pain and weather and fatigue, and by the end many of them are running on sheer determination alone. I am in awe of them.

I missed my annual bleeding nipple shot this year. I saw one man running by with bleeding nipples, but for some reason I thought he had rust-coloured racing stripes on his t-shirt, and it wasn’t until he had passed that I registered the bleeding nipples. (Men are supposed to tape their nipples so they don’t get rubbed raw by their clothing. Women don’t have this problem because they wear sports bras.)

Thumbs Up!
Because it was raining today, there weren’t as many spectators. Usually the runners don’t even notice me, because there are plenty of better cheerleaders who yell “Way to go!” and “Looking good!” and “Keep it up!”

I’m a quiet and inconspicuous spectator: I clap, I smile at them, I take pictures. But today a lot of the runners smiled back, gave me the thumbs up, and thanked me for being there.

They looked better this year than last. Last year the marathon was run under a vampire sun that sucked the life out of them. A lot of them were miserable and sick, and some were collapsing on the road and being hauled off in ambulances. I didn’t see any of that today. I was happy it was raining because my empathy levels go off the chart when I see them suffering, and I literally start to feel sick for them. I’d rather just feel wet.

It’s always about me, isn’t it? Enough about me! Here are too many photos:

Runner #147
Runner # 231

Runner's high?
Wheelchair marathoner
Still smiling
Foiled again

Hobbling to the finish line

Update: More photos available on my Flickr page.

13 comments to My favourite spectator sport

  • Gillian

    You go and do, watch, note, participate. I stay home and think about it, and read & knit. Thanks for the photos.

  • We may not acknowledge you. We may be trapped in our own thoughts and struggles. We always, always appreciate every single fan who comes out and cheers us on.

    Thanks for being there, and thanks for the pictures.

  • jay aka janet

    very inspiring pictures, and touching comment from warren!

    I didn’t feel like I had the energy to sign my full name last week. You can see why the marathone runners inspire me.

  • Thanks for stopping by my blog Zoom. I agree with Warren that sometimes it hard to acknowledge the supporters but you are appreciated. Nice story today.

  • Oh damn, I didn’t mean to imply the runners should acknowledge me more. It shocks me whenever any of them do, because at 37k I think it’s phenomenal that they’re even able to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The last thing I expect is for them to be sociable while doing it!

    Warren and John, my heartfelt congratulations to both of you on your very impressive accomplishments!

  • I probably made that point better in last year’s marathon post:

  • I wasn’t implying you were seeking recognition. Just thanking you anyways because it is so nice that you and so many others are out there supporting us all. Last year’s post was very nice too.

    Thanks again Zoom,

  • The people who smile? They are the best. I took 7 hours to finish my marathon, and the only thing that got me through were people like you.

  • Deb

    I reread last year’s post and saw that you intended to run a half marathon this year…what happened?

  • Thanks for stopping by. I’m always very appreciative of everyone who is out supporting, particularly during that portion of the race where the spectators are few and far between; it means a lot.

  • Thanks for the note. I’m not sure I could’ve finished the race without the spectators, and just want to say thanks for coming out and cheering us all on. Wow, did I ever need that encouragement near the end!

  • Warren, John, Rachael, Michael, April – thank you all for dropping by, and congratulations on your marathons and halfs! Whether it takes you 2 hours or 7, you’re still elite athletes to the rest of us. :)

    Deb, I do recall aspiring last year to run a half this year, but I stopped running last fall – I lost my momentum after the hip & physio thing. I would have to start all over again. (By the way, I just found out yesterday that Dad used to run marathons! He did Montreal twice and Detroit once, plus lots of halfs.)

  • Deb

    Wow, I didn’t know that.