How to be a top marathon supporter

I feel like as a regular supporter of my sister’s running addiction, this is a pretty relevant post for me to be writing as race season starts. As you may have noticed over the weekend, my sister ran her first marathon (#SorryNotSorry for the amount of social spam on all of my accounts), and I personally think that’s very bloody impressive. 26.2 miles is quite frankly a long bloody way. I thought I’d put together a list of my top tips for being a great supporter as let’s face it, it’s far easier than actually having to run it.

1. Do exactly what your runner wants. They want a ready-peeled banana at a specific mile point to grab off you? You have it there, ready and waiting. Likewise, gels (these weird magical things that give runners energy out of foil packets), energy drinks, water and the like.

2. Be in the right places at the right times. With a marathon, the chances are you have enough time to get to a few mile points but plan where you’ll be as it will be busy. Having a map and a plan of how to get to where and how long it will take is really important.

3. Use tracking apps. Most marathons from what I can tell will do an update as runners go over certain mats that register a time/distance so these can be used as a guide.

4. Be prepared to carry everything. Whilst there may be luggage drops at the races, avoid them if you can as it’s the biggest faff and longest queue to get your stuff back.

5. Bring snacks. What with races often getting delayed and the like, your runner might not make it across the start line for up to an hour after the official start time so you may be waiting at certain points along the route for a while.

6. Cheer on everyone. You might feel silly but hearing your name being shouted with words of encouragement means a lot to every runner. We did have someone come ask my mum and I at the Manchester Marathon how we knew so many people, and it was because we were trying to spot the names on tshirts and under race numbers so we could cheer them on.

7. Take loads of photos. This seems really obvious but if you’re passing over things like gels or drinks, sometimes this gets forgotten.

8. Get everyone involved. My sister had my mum and I, plus friends from ParkRun, Slimming World and her running club out to support her along the way at her marathon and it’s this support which gets you round the course.

9. Be prepared to hang around at the end. There’s a lot of catching up to be done with other runners plus photo opportunities so don’t expect to be rushing off.

10. Sponsor, sponsor, sponsor. If it’s for charity, whilst your support on the day may be priceless, the charity doesn’t actually see that, they need to see cash. Any distance run, whether it’s a 5k or an Ultra is a challenge so actually parting with your cash is pretty damned important! (If you'd like to sponsor my sister, you can still do so here... cheeky, I know).

So, whilst I have no idea how to actually run any great distance, I make a brilliant support team. What are your tips? And any runners, what would you like your supporters to know? Let me know in the comments!

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