Last year, runners were dropping from the heat at the Marathon, but the spectators loved the weather. This year, it was 35 degrees cooler - and rained; there weren't many complaints from the runners, though some dropped from hypothermia (a shirtless guy in 20th-30th place at 21 miles didn't finish), but the spectating was cold.
I used to watch the race from the middle of the hill leading to St. Thomas, but at the bottom, the road narrows, so one can stand on the median and be almost in the middle of the runners. It's a great place for viewing.[@2:08 in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oRp9mZsqlo&feature=related] There was almost no one there for the sub 3 hour crowd. After the rain let up, the spectators did start to fill in, but I spent the day with the two people who spent the whole day in one place as I did, Andy and Natalie Wahl (and if I got their names wrong, it fits in with the fact that I was forgetting names all day). Andy was cheering for the dentists running - the only overlap we had was John Cretzmeyer, who apparently ran the 10 mile this year - and she was an official race marshall, who was freezing in the cold rain. When she took off her rain hood, I wondered how long it would be before someone would comment that I had found yet another pretty short redhead; fortunately, most of the runners who knew me in that part of my life don't race marathons any more.
There were a few costumes in the crowd. I counted two togas, three cheerleaders, one giant pumpkin and a Super Girl impostor (to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I know Super Girl. Super Girl's a friend of mine. You, miss, are no Super Girl).
I kept a running commentary for my new friends as I cheered for runners I knew. "He won the Arrowhead 135. She won the Superior 100. He ran 108 races last year. He's run 100 marathons. He ran from Iowa to Canada..." They were amazed that I knew so many of the runners - and also that they tended to spot me before I saw them. I never did see Justin, Erik, Maria, Pierre or a slew of others I should've seen. Then there were the surprises that took a day to remember; Jack Ankrum, who I used to run with but had only seen once in 10 years and Chris Vitalis who went from 15 years old to 35 (I was his high school coach). Everyone seemed to be having a good day and to be in great spirits, except maybe Sonya Decker, who I think just runs expressionless like I tend to do, though it's not really a marathon if no one has a bad day.
One goes through cheer fatigue. I'm not a naturally demonstrative guy (a high compliment from me tends to the Lake Wobegonish, "That's not so bad,") so it was good to have occasional spectators who were really animated standing nearby. Takes the pressure off. Sometimes, though, a runner stares straight at you and you get guilted into cheering. After a while, you start thinking about leaving, because you haven't seen anyone you know for a long time; if I hadn't stuck it out, I'd've missed Bonnie Riley, who looked like she was going to beat the sweeps - I'll have to check the race results.
I picked up some trash. I massaged a guy's hamstring after it cramped. I listened to a race official tell of a woman who insisted on driving on the course. I think it prepped me for standing at the Highway 67 aid station at the Glacial Trail 50 next weekend.
Congrats to all who finished, especially to the happiest person in the crowd, new Boston Marathon qualifier Julie Berg.
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