Anyone who has entered a long race can tell you that sometimes the supporters/fans can make a world of difference. In my race last Saturday I saw examples of both types of fans and think we can all learn from them.
Good Fans: Michelle Lowry is an injured elite runner. She took second place in the St. George Marathon in 2008 and is incredibly gifted. Unfortunately, she has been experiencing some injuries in her hip/SI area this year and it has become debilitating enough that she is relying on crutches to get around and sometimes even a wheelchair. I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for someone of her talent and yet she took three hours out of her Saturday to come and cheer on fellow runners in the Utah Valley Marathon. As Marion McLellan and I approached Mile 6, we saw an excited woman in a blue jacket yelling and screaming at us. Just to make sure we didn’t miss her, she brandished her crutches in the air and we knew we had found Michelle. She had a poster cheering on the FRB (FastRunningBlog) runners and waited until the last ones she knew (us) arrived. We gave her a quick thank you and hug (we weren’t racing after all and a hug can do a world of good) and then headed on. A mile or so later, she passed us once again in her van honking, cheering and waving. Michelle continued on the course cheering on runners and watching the elite women finish. Thank you, Michelle.
Bad Fans: Marion was really struggling physically and emotionally the last couple of miles. After Kelli Stephenson joined us (and Mandi – Marion’s sister-in-law), somewhere before the last mile we saw a guy sitting on the side of the road with his finisher’s medal. Trying to motivate Marion, I said, “In just a short while you will be wearing one of those.” Instead of being encouraging, this jerk (calling him a gentleman would be wrong), waved his medal back and forth chanting and jeering – “I’ve got one and you don’t”. I strongly considered going back and choking him with his medal. It was probably the worst show of sportsmanship I have ever seen at a race.
Thank you to family and friends who have cheered me on at races in the past 6 years. You have no idea how much it means to me.
And – Boston/medal guy – may you pull an important muscle in your next big race and have to DNF….