You calmly walk to the designated course. The crowd is an eclectic mix of people who at some time or another decided that today, at this time and location, they would pin a bib on their shirt and race. You know your “why” for being there and it is pretty much guaranteed that every.single.person you can see has their very own too. The atmosphere is both calm and chaotic at the same time. A true enigma. You can feel the energy generated from the strength and determination of those around you as it radiates inside you and surges between nervousness and excitement.
The race starts and your heart pounds with anticipation. The roar of people yelling motivational sayings, clapping and the ringing of cowbells is deafening but oh so exhilarating. Where else do strangers encourage strangers with such gusto just for showing up? You are instantly glad you came and are part of such a joyous group of people. The positivity is infectious and you can’t help but smile. What if people treated each other like this all the time?
Soon you begin to tire and sweat from your efforts but you are all in and in it ‘till the end. At this point, some are cruising along what appears effortlessly, others are conquering previously unknown territory far from their comfort zone of training miles, some are pushing themselves to just keep moving forward, and others are struggling, things are not going as they had planned. Yet, you cheer for ALL of them with the same amount of ADMIRATION and ANIMATION because every person you see inspires you in many, many ways.
This is what it is like to be a spectator. And another way the running community can make you a better person.