Photo by Ian Murchison
Why running a race is often simpler than watching it from the sidelines.
1. It’s a catered affair.
As a runner, you’ll never go hungry. In fact, others are literally at your service: you constantly have people handing you all the food and drink you want. Not so for a spectator. Lineups at vendors can be as long as the race courses (if you can even find a place that’s open near an out-of-the-way start at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning.)
2. It’s easier to answer the call of nature.
Race course portapotties can be strictly athletes-only, and if those are in short supply, nobody minds when runners duck into the bushes to attend to some business. Spectators have more of a challenge. Meandering courses are not designed to meet the biological needs of anyone in the peanut gallery.
3. The view is better.
As a runner you’re getting at least five kilometres’ worth of scenery. Be it suburban bungalows or mountain vistas, your view is always varied and at least moderately interesting. But for the spectators, there is only so much beauty to be found in staring at the back of the head of the person in front of you for two hours while he refuses to yield his against-the-barricade vantage point.
4. You always know where you are.
As a runner, you are the one who is in control of your pace. And even if you’re a little slower than predicted, you are not among the supporters waiting impatiently at the finish trying to spot a loved one among the throng (you’ll never find her, trust me).
5. It’s the ultimate “me” time…
As a runner you have one, self-indulgent job: to get yourself from point A to pointB as quickly or comfortably as possible. For spectators, life does not get put on hold. Case in point: young siblings seldom cease to squabble just because Daddy is trying to watch Mommy PR a 10K.
…which isn’t limited to race day
As a runner, “my big race is next weekend” can get you out of all sorts of conundrums, from taking on more at work to attending Uncle Larry’s third (fourth?) wedding. The excuse doesn’t carry as much water for spectators, though, as their commitment is viewed as being strictly limited to the hours of race itself.
6. You’re the inspiration.
As a runner you’re a rock star, with friends and strangers alike cheering you on and telling you how awesome you are. It’s empowering. Spectators are a different story, as they watch from the sidelines and wonder why they didn’t sign up this year, whether they will ever be in racing shape again, and for the love of God why are there no public toilets in this town?
iRun because I love to explore. — Hart Shouldice, Ontario
Hart Shouldice is a writer, lawyer and age group runner/triathlete who now resides in Ottawa. While living in places as far-reaching as Yellowknife and South Africa over the years, Hart relied on running as a way of exploring his environment and better understand the world around him. Ever the adventurer, he is always on the lookout for unconventional running experiences and races; an outlook which has seen him running overnight through the Adirondack Mountains and half-marathoning alongside zebras on the Cape of Good Hope.