On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, October 31, 2011


I tried to set up some fancy blog-embedded polls, but I couldn't. So you'll just have to vote in the comments or something.

Poll #1:
What is the worst thing to happen to marathon spectating in the past few years?
a. the cowbell
b. the vuvuzuela
c. posters reading "WORST PARADE EVER"
d. Team in Training*

*Not hating on TnT... okay, yes, I am. In my experience at big races (Flying Pig, Disney, NYCM, MCM, and Chicago x3), their supporters are the worst at going nuts yelling "GO TEAM! GO PURPLE!" when they see one of their own, only to stare blankly at you if you're not one of them. (I've seen them start to cheer for people who happen to be wearing purple - only to take it back mid-cheer. TAKING IT BACK!)

Poll #2:
What is the most egregious violation of race etiquette?
a. walking in the middle of the course (rather than stepping off to the side), particularly walking several abreast
b. the farmer's blow without checking to make sure no one is behind you
c. non-runners crossing the marathon course perpendicularly, obliviously
d. other (please write-in)


  1. Can I say "all of the above"? Also another thing I hate that spectators do is walking across the race course. It's so easy to cross diagonally and not really cut off runners, but I've been bumped on, had to swerve around, tripped, and what not from people who are just walking across bc they want to get to the other side. Do you know how hard it is to keep running when you're going that far? Or to lose momentum if you're running a 5k and trying to sprint to the finish? UGH

  2. Carla, you're SO right. That's good enough that I'm adding it to the text.

  3. I was definitely gonna say the vuvuzuela, but I totally agree about TNT (and the not cheering for anyone but their own!) For #2....A and C is a toughie....I think A is the worst though...

  4. 1. Honestly, I don't know what it is, but the horn-like thing that goes "NNNNNNNNNNN" (it's not a vuvuzela). I like C, though. That's funny.
    2. I'm with Carla. C.

    BTW NICE RACE LADY *cowbell vuvuzela go purple!*

  5. 1. I actually like the cowbell - I usually have the husband (TEH HUBZ) ring one so I know he's there. I run a lot of small races though so it isn't cowbell overload.

    2. I'm also going with C. I hate it when you're trucking along and someone walks across the course, stops and then looks at you like OMG THERE'S A RUNNER HERE!

  6. OTHER
    I wish this was a nightmare, but it isn't. I have been noticing more and more LIFE SIZED posters/photographs of the runner the spectator is cheering for. CREEPY.

  7. #1 - Definitely D. I've been known to yell "Hey, what about me" before.

    #2 - A. I typically start in the back(ish) of a race and so have to weave through the folks who are strung out four and five and more abreast. It is rude and it wastes my energy - I need that energy!

  8. I've never seen a "worst parade ever" poster before. I think I will make one in the next race I spectate. (Haters be damned.)

    I did recently see someone holding a "GO RANDOM STRANGER!" poster that amused me for a short while.

    Oh, and I hate people who walk more than 2 abreast. They should trip, face plant and be carried off the course on a stretcher. (Yeah, I've thought about it and visualized their demise in detail.)

  9. Poll #1 vuvuzuelan is the worst cos as a South african I think that invention was the worst thing during the World Cup.

    Poll #2 non-runners crossing the marathon course perpendicularly, obliviously. I will oneday take out some old lady and just keep running. I also intend to write a whole blog on how people should cross assuming their child or loeved one is getting killed on the other side. That can be the only good reason for crossing.

  10. Poll #1: TNT

    Poll #2: tie between the walkers and the pedestrians crossing the course. I just ran the LA R&R 1/2 yesterday and experienced BOTH. granted i started too far back in a slower corral so walkers were to be expected... but they NEVER think to scoot to the side. And the pedestrians crossing are super annoying; please don't make me stop or slow down, especially at mile 11; i'm just too focused on getting through the next 2.1 miles!

  11. Yes, yes, yes. I hadn't even considered the pedestrian crossing thing when I put up the post because I'd spent so much time yesterday annoyed by the walkers. I may be slow, but it's still a race for me. I do not want to weave around you and your friends, especially if you're texting from the middle of the course. It didn't help that they were TNT, of course...

  12. # 1: D!

    # 2: Uhm...D...the blocking the road running/walking side by side - thing. Usually happens after mile 20. Walking is more than fine with me, but move to the side of the road, and don't walk side by side with 4 of your running buddies. Seriously...at the Edinburgh Marathon I actually got yelled at for elbowing through (I only elbowed through because they ignored me when I asked them to let me pass...)...

  13. #1. D. I thought that it was just me with TNT. It's great they raise money and bring new people to the sport, but c'mon, if you're going to cheer wildly, do it for everybody.

    #2. A. Especially A for walkers that line up too far ahead at the start and then basically form a wall for anyone trying to pass them. I can deal with one person walking through an aid station and not stepping aside, but walkers at the start drive me nuts.

  14. People who do marathons do that oblivious walking thing? GAH! All this time I assumed it was just the smaller-scale events that I have taken part in, and that marathoners would somehow be smarter.

    I would expand (D) to anyone who just stands on the side of the course, not cheering until the one person they were looking for passes, and then leaving. TNT is noticeable because they are very loud otherwise, but... if you're standing by the course waiting for someone, you might as well cheer for some strangers. (Too much of a hippie? Fine.) It's not like you are expending so much energy just standing there that it's too hard to cheer. I saw this happen at the NYC Half with a running team who apparently just wanted to cheer for their teammates, and get out. It was kind of sad!

    I also think Worst Parade Ever is funny and I don't care.

  15. The walkers thing kills me. Walkers 2-3 abreast, walkers with iPods even worse. hell, iPods in general tick me off, as they cause SO many people to tune out what's around them.

    Perpendicular crossing is just horrendous, too.

  16. Ok, so being a former TNTer, I kind of agree. I have seen them only cheer for their own but I also have seen them cheer in general. But yes, their little cult is annoying. I had to drop out of this last season because I lost my job and their essentially treated me like they didn't know me. Not cool.

    And yes, the walkers 4 abreast KILL me. I know I'm slow but that's just not cool.

  17. 1) D. I actually don't mind the cowbells. As a runner. I'm sure if I were spectating and standing near someone who had one....

    2) I'm going to go with M above and say oblivious headphone people. If you're gonna wear it, turn the damn volume down so that you're not completely clueless to those around you!

  18. C for both!

    I volunteered at the Shamrock Shuffle in 2010 and they sent us a thank you volunteer video. The video showed part of the race, and there were these stupid tourists trying to cross the road between all of those people. D-U-H.

    I did not know TnT would not cheer for others. How bizarre!

  19. Walkers (not in general, but the abreast thing) are lame, but #2 b? Eeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww!

  20. I am a fan of the cowbell (unless someone carrying a cowbell is running next to me -- then I'm annoyed. true story.)

    The rest of both lists: totally annoying.

    I think the cheering only for your "team" thing goes beyond TNT. Anyone holding a sign "Go ___!" (insert name here) who ONLY cheers for ___ should really just sleep in and stop p*ssing off the rest of us. That's one of my biggest race pet peeves EVER.

  21. TNT & crossing the course, absolutely.

  22. I've never seen the parade sign, but that would definitely entertain me and entertainment while running is awesome. A guy at the Cherry Blossom 10 miler had a sign that said "If you think this is hard, you should try dating me." Loved it.
    I cheered at the MCM a couple years ago. Went to cheer for a friend, but lost my voice cheering for everyone that ran by. That's how it should be done.
    So, my vote is the same as Sweaty Kid's - TNT and crossing the course.

  23. I have been known to loudly ring cowbells and I am making a Worst Parade Ever sign the next time I spectate. It will replace my The End is NOT Near sign.

    Perhaps I am the worst thing to happen to race spectating in the past few years.

  24. I hate those "WORST PARADE EVER" signs so, so, so much. So much! I was giving out some *mad* dirty looks whenever I passed them on the course.

    And truth be told, I have a cowbell that I bring to races. Sure is easier than yelling the whole time.

  25. 1. Team in Training (although vuvuzelas do spray your spit and germs everywhere). And admittedly I've never seen that worst parade ever sign before somehow.

    2. All of the above. I HATE stupid people! I guess if I must choose. Walking or slowing down in the middle of the road. Get out of my damn way before I cut you.

  26. DEFINITELY TEAM IN TRAINING! Damn they're annoying. They make me want to punch a baby in the face. Ok not really, but you get the idea.

    People crossing the course are annoying - but people crossing the course with a DOG are even worse.

    Also, can we please address those people who race with friends AND wear headphones? Not only are they sometimes more than 2 across, but since they're listening to music, their conversation is 6 times LOUDER than it needs to be.

  27. For the first, I'd say it's a 2-way tie between TnT (for the cheering reasons you mention, otherwise meh, I don't mind them that much) and the "Worst Parade Ever" signs. I hate those supposedly-clever-but-just-annoying signs.

    For the second, all of the above. People suck something major during races. I don't know why. Every time I race I have at least one moment where I tell myself this will be my last one because I just can't deal with all the idiocy.