Dana and the kids before sunrise at Ironman Mont Tremblant. Photo courtesy of Ironman XC.

We trisupporters have certain etiquette and rules that we need to live by when we spectate.  It’s not an easy day for the triathlete or the spectator, so it helps to follow a set of Golden Rules for Triathlon Spectators.  We thought we’d fill you in on ours….

    1. Keep calm.  There will be times when you are waiting and waiting for your triathlete to come in and panic may start to set in.  Did they have an accident?  Did they get sick?  Just try to relax. Chances are the issue is minor, but even if there is a problem, they will need you to be there, calm and ready to take charge.  When Carl did Oceanside a few years ago, he was passed the time I was expecting him to finish the bike.  I started worrying as 1/2 hour passed and started panicking at 1 hour.  Friends checked the medical tent and he wasn’t there, which was a big relief.  Turned out his crank cracked and couldn’t be fixed, so he was out of the race and waiting for a ride.  Lesson learned….
    2. Have sympathy for the newbies.  Remember when you were at your first race and didn’t know a sole or how to navigate the course.  Help them out.  Strike up a conversation.  Let them hang with you.
    3. Respect the spectators around you.  We love cowbells as much as the next guy, but after awhile they can get annoying.  Limit your usage and no ringing too close to the person’s ears next to you.
    4. Cheer for the other guy.  My triathlete tells me how important it is to hear his name called out and cheered on while he’s racing.  There are many athletes who don’t have any supporters at the race.  So, cheer for them all, even if you don’t know them and are tired.  We also go back to the finish line after ourtriathletes are done to cheer on the rest of the competitors.


      Cheering on the finishers at Ironman Kona.

    5. Be flexible.  This is the mother of all Golden Rules.  It’s inevitable that things will happen during the race day.  It starts to pour, you can’t get your car out, you lose your hat, and your child starts fussing, to name a few.  Going with the flow is all you can do.  Just know to expect the unexpected and you’ll be fine.
    6. Make friends!  Other trisupporters are the most friendly, positive, unselfish, exuberant group of people we’ve had the blessing of meeting and getting to know, however brief or long-term.  Don’t be shy about striking up a conversation.  That’s how the three of us met.
    7. Share.  Share your prime viewing spots and shady spaces, your goodies, your supplies, your smiles, your cheering, your encouragement, your wisdom, your comfort…yourself…with everyone around you.
    8. Embrace the sweat.  Even though your triathlete may be sweaty and stinky, put your fear or disgust aside and get in there for a big hug and kiss at the finish.  You’ve both had a long day and could use some lovin.


      Dana and Sam getting in there for a hug….Photo courtesy of Ironman XC.

    9. Don’t pick a fight around race day.  Everyone is tense and probably tired on the days leading up to the race and especially the morning of the race.  But, don’t let this make you argue with your triathlete.  Don’t succumb to the pressure.  It’s not your day..it’s theirs.  Pick another day to exert your opinions, ideas, and control.  Today is the day to let them dictate what they think is best and sorry, it’s best for you to just nod and smile.  Support them by knowing that today is all about them.  You can pick another day for You.
    10. Be willing and ready to make a spectacle of yourself.  Scream, yell, and flap your arms when you spot your athlete.  Just do it big and loud and proud!  Jumping up and down, jumping jack style, wins extra points.
    11. Hydrate to Spectate.  A proper nutrition, hydration, and sunscreen plan = a successful day!  No one enjoys a wilted, hungry, cranky supporter.
    12. Wear “proper” attire.  Choose super bright colors!  Your athlete is looking for you too, so pass up the fashion and go for cliche neon tops.  Footwear MUST be comfortable and practical for the length of the race day, weather, and terrain.  Say NO to the Dress and Yes to silly shirts with your athlete’s name or club logo on it.  It’s all about solidarity.


      Guy doing it right in a bright color (even matching Lindsay’s socks) and wearing his pride in Lindsay on his t-shirt.

    13. Stick with the plan.  If you have told your triathlete you will be at a certain place at a certain time or will meet up with them…do not deviate.
    14. Thank the volunteers…each and every one you see.  Period.
    15. Don’t trip the competition…no matter how tempting it may be.
    16. Have fun!  It certainly beats the alternative.  If you’re not going to be happy and smiling, have a great time, and love being there, seriously, don’t go in the first place.
twcgoldenrulesPicMonkey Collage

Have fun whether you’re the triathlete or the spectator!!!

So, there you have it – our Golden Rules for Triathlon Supporters that we live by.  They have truly helped keep us sane and happy over all these years.  Hope they help you do the same…..