Lincoln Marathon: The Spectacle

May 7, 2012 at 1:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I don’t take credit for finishing the Lincoln Half-Marathon. Yeah, it was my legs that ran the 13.1 miles, but it takes more than that to run on 4 hours sleep. It takes willpower too, and I was running low.

Quitting was an option, at least in my head. I had convinced myself that I’d be OK with dropping out partway through the race. It would be a reasonable thing to do, right?

But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t disappoint all those spectators. That’s right: those thousands of folks who lined the course are the primary reason I finished the half-marathon yesterday.

I had heard about the morale-boosting effects of the marathon’s spectators. I had been one of those spectators for years, and The Missus attested to the value of their cheering after her marathon finishes. But I didn’t quite comprehend just how awesome it is to see block after block lined with people. People sitting on porches. People eating breakfast. People cheering. People holding signs. People giving high-fives. People playing music.

Mile after mile after mile.

I couldn’t help but feel a burst of civic pride as I ran the course. It was wonderful seeing so many Lincolnites out supporting a local event. Sure, many people were only there to support somebody they knew. But oodles of folks were there to watch “just because”. They pulled up lawn chairs or stood on the curb because what better activity could there be for a pleasant Sunday morning in May? Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?

And then there were the tags we wore. Emblazoned across every participant’s frontside was their first name. That meant that every single spectator could cheer for you by name. It gave the whole thing a very personal feel. In addition to the generic cries of “woohoo” and “you can do it”, I heard many shouts of “keep it up, Brent!” and “good work, Brent!”. Some came from friends and acquaintances, but most came from folks who just wanted to give a weary runner a boost.

Then there were all the volunteers, police officers, fire fighters, and National Guard personnel. I always knew it took a lot to put on an event like the Lincoln Marathon, but those people were everywhere. I manned a water station one year. It was surprisingly stressful. Stretch that out across many hundreds of people all around the course and you’ve got yourself a huge amount of work going on.

(My favorite volunteer moment: just before entering the stadium a volunteer snagged an unofficial runner and yanked her off the course. The scowl on his face as he did so was priceless.)

Lincoln’s race often gets praised for its atmosphere. As a long-time spectator I saw only snapshots of that. Now that I’ve seen it from a runner’s perspective I can affirm that it’s every bit as cool as advertised.

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The Comments

Fletch May 7, 2012 at 2:57pm

Great post! I couldn’t agree more. It blew me away the first year (2011). This year, I knew my body wasn’t going to do as well for me, so I tried to soak it in even more. There’s just so much to see.

Nikkidemas May 7, 2012 at 5:02pm

This post made my day.

Mr. Wilson May 7, 2012 at 6:27pm

Glad to hear it, because it was directed at folks like you!

Laura Meyers May 8, 2012 at 3:41am

I ran the Lincoln Half Marathon for the second time and was very excited to see the number of spectators out on every single street.  Their enthusiasm and the fun signs, cowbells, tee shirts and attention-getters they waved really helped to encourage tired runners to keep going, even through the rough spots.  I could actually feel myself pick up the pace after a smile or a shout-out; unless you run, you have no idea how much of an impact the spectators have.  My husband and I ran a Chicago Rock & Roll Half Marathon and it didn’t even come close to the number or spirit of the Lincoln spectators. The volunteers were also wonderful; again, so many and all so encouraging.  I tried to say thanks along the way, as I grabbed water or passed by someone guarding the route, but sometimes the breath just wasn’t there to say the words.  Just know that we appreciate you very much and you are the reason we will come back!

Kim May 13, 2012 at 2:52pm

Just found this Brent. Way to go. You are a beast. I walked the 1/2 (I did jog the first 2 miles, and the downhill from mile 5 to mile 6) and of course, by the time the walkers get through (due to the wave start, I didn’t cross the start line until 44 minutes after the gun) there are few spectators and the water stations are closing up. I actually bought some Gatorade at the C-mart at 33rd and Sheridan cuz last year, I had a lot of calf cramping after mile 10. Still, I finished and I’m glad. I had ankle surgery in December and wasn’t even allowed to walk without crutches until Feb. 1 and not allowed to jog until March 1, so it was a quick training and ramp up. Still, I had a good time and felt happy at the end. I agree their shirts are crummy. This years was way better than last years, though. I HATE that shirt.

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