VICTORIA MARATHON: Race etiquette: Enduring fans

When runners are delirious, it’s best to keep the cheers personal.

Spectators – and cheers – are an integral part of any marathon race.

Two kinds of people will be at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon on Sunday: those who run and those who cheer.

An estimated 2,100 will run the 42.2 kilometres, and more than 5,000 will cheer from the sidelines.

And when runners are delirious, it’s best to keep the cheers personal.

At least that’s the advice from former elite runner Rob Reid, now race director for the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon.

Runners who registered early will have their names printed on their bibs and for those who are slugging away at the toughest kilometres of the marathon, shouting out their name might be the best encouragement, Reid said.

“It keeps them thinking. A lot of people, depending on what part of the race it is, will kind of exercise dissociation. They’re thinking of a mantra to keep them focused. They’re trying to run outside their body a little bit.

“The crowd can assist in helping you dissociate or stay outside learning what parts of your body you didn’t know you had until 20 miles in.”

Either way, some runners will appreciate any and all cheering, while others won’t even notice the clamour, said Dave Milne, who ran the marathon last year.

Milne, owner of Peninsula Runners, agrees names are the best way to go, but added:

“It’s more about cheering, or cowbells, or those thunder sticks, or even pots or pans. … A lot of people’s names are on their bibs. Just use their names, ‘Go Steve, go’ or ‘Michael, you’re looking strong.’

“For people who are in the top 50 or 20 even, say what position they’re in. They like that, to say you’re in 20th or 15th feedback from the race is (beneficial). Or that the guy in front of you is hurting.”

Reid said the distraction of cheering fans can be good or bad for marathoners, depending on their running style. He, for example, has run marathons in Europe and some cheering fans on the sidelines were in costumes, while others were completely naked.

“It can distract the runners from the pain they’re feeling,” he said.

As for the best places to watch the action, Reid recommends a spot where all three races – the marathon, half-marathon and eight-kilometre road race – can be seen, such as Beacon Hill Park at Dallas Road or at Mile Zero.

“That’s a really inspirational part of the marathon,” he said.

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