Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sat, 17 Apr 1999 09:10:10 -0400

Shoot and Shout

(from RC 283)

This race happened to be a marathon in Las Vegas. But it could have been anyone's race, anywhere and at any road distance.

I slipped out of the hotel room at five o'clock in the morning, leaving my sleeping wife behind. We'd already made plans on when and where to meet again. She would leave the room at a reasonable hour, while I'd take a race bus to the distant start line.

We had been through all this many times. The plan that had worked before went into action again.

Barbara isn't a runner herself, but is a professional photographer and a savvy follower of our sport. She knew my expected pace and when it would bring me to meeting places along the course. We had plotted these spots in advance and knew how to reach them.

Her logistical task that day was tougher than mine. All I had to do was follow the crowd and the marked route. Barbara had to find her own way without ever wandering onto the course or getting lost in traffic.

Our plan again worked beautifully. Barbara arrived at the designated spots on time, shot the necessary pictures and shouted the needed encouragement, then was there to pick me up after the finish.

We are old hands at raceday logistics. We pass along our experience to novices with these don'ts and do's of following your favorite runner through a road race, and recording the day on film or videotape.

1. Don't try to watch the start. The scene here is too crowded for your comfort or picture-taking, and parking is too scarce. Let your runner walk a short distance, take the bus a long way, or be dropped off near the start with a good-luck hug or handshake.

2. Don't expect to drive on the course -- or to bicycle there. It's either closed to traffic, or should be. Don't risk interfering with or even injuring runners by trying to take your car or bike onto or across the runners' route of travel.

3. Don't try to watch the finish. As with the start, this area is overcrowded. Unless you're the height of an NBA forward, or the race is a rarity with a grandstand for spectators, you won't see your favorite's final steps of the race.

4. Do plan to hit one or more points along the course. The race is long enough so you can reach several spots by taking paralleling and intersecting streets. Scout out your route on a map, drive it in advance if possible, and plan arrival times at rendezvous points.

5. Do wait near the finish. Crowds thin out quickly as you leave that line, and even a quarter-mile away you can stand within arm's length of the passing runners. Shoot your pictures, and shout loud and proud from there.

6. Do plan a meeting place. Rather than wade into the crowd searching for your runner, have him or her come to you at a prearranged spot. Then share the joy of a race well run.

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