No Category selected Reflections on the crowd

    Reflections on the crowd


    If you’ve ever been at a finish line and you like to people-watch, I am sure you’ve seen them:  the people who finish, stretch, eat something, then wander off to a car – all by themselves.  I know I am totally projecting my own perspective when I feel bad – some people couldn’t care less if no one they know is there; some people don’t even tell people they are racing because they don’t want anyone to come out.

    But personally, I am so grateful for my family and friends.  I feel so lucky that my husband will, without a single complaint, drag himself out of bed at OMG-o’clock on a Sunday morning and put up with my pre-race jitters (read: criticizing his choice of route around the road closures and asking him 97 times whether I will be warm enough in what I am wearing) to drive me to the start line.  I am fortunate that he happily brings along the good camera to try to capture the day – he takes shots of me running, as well as the leaders, the scenery, and anything else he thinks I might want to look at later.  It’s great that he emails maps of where he plans to cheer to everyone else who plans to meet up with him, and hands out his cell phone number so he can give directions and last minute detours.

    I am also lucky that there are other people who want to call him and find him and join him on the course.  My parents, my close friends Kirk and Tanya – heck, even Tanya’s parents!  They cheerily drive from all over the place, as if they have nothing better to do, wave their cowbells wildly and provide high-fives for 30 seconds as I run by, before packing up and taking off for the next cheering point.  Tanya even jumped in a few times to provide a little boost for a few hundred metres.  They tease me that they do it for the breakfast buffet that they found just after the start, but I know better.

    And let’s not forget the volunteers!  What a long day for them, and yet, I don’t think I have ever seen such enthusiastic course marshalling or water stations.  Even the police seemed happy to be there! Special hello to the final water station – McNab High School? – you were great with your cheers, high-fives, and big signs, right where they were really needed.

    Then there are the strangers.  The crowds that line the course at various places, the people walking in the opposite direction on the trail – they cheer for all of the runners as though we are rock stars.  I can remember running towards the finish line in a semi-fog, and I never heard my name over the loud speaker, but I tuned in as I heard the announcer say, “…from Fergus…” and this small contingent leaning over the barricade erupted into a loud roar of “YEAH FERGUS!!!”   I placed 1,064th out of 1,121, dead last in my age category, but I might as well have broken a world record – the crowd was great.

    I feel so very fortunate that all of these people were a part of my day – I might be gushing a little, but I don’t care – thank you everyone.

    Gabby, Mom, Tanya, Me, Steve, Kirk, Dad; photo credit Bill who would have otherwise been in the picture too!
    Gabby, Mom, Tanya, Me, Steve, Kirk, Dad; photo credit Bill who would have otherwise been in the picture too!

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    A runner for just over four years, Karen has already completed a marathon, two half marathons and a variety of 5k and 10k races. She describes her first marathon - the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last September - as "a nightmare." However, she met a very interesting person in the process - a man named Sydney who was running his 152nd marathon! Although the race didn't go as well as planned for Karen or Sydney, he showed her that no matter how experienced a runner you are, you can still have a bad day. "Does that mean we shouldn't bother to prepare, or maybe just shouldn't bother at all? Of course not!" says Karen. "In the end, it is what we make it." We like her optimism!


    1. Family and friends are the best! My parents are definitely “elite spectators” – they even have custom cheering shirts! And I love crowds who cheer for everybody.

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