Mike Thompson and his mother.

Mike and his spectator mom.

Mike Thompson is back with us to offer words of wisdom for spectators on race day.  Although the season may be winding down or even over for some of you, many still have races coming up or you can always save for next year.  We’ll take anything to make our lives easier, right?   These are great, actually useful tips and done with a sense of humor.  Can’t get any better…….Thanks Mike.  Enjoy and make sure you heed his advice.

Whether it is the Ironman World Championship or your first sprint at The Rookie Triathlon, race weekend can be chaotic.  Here are 5 tips for spectators as race day approaches:

  1. Have a plan!  Race weekend can sometimes be as hectic for the spectator as it is for the athlete.  And while the athlete has an event guide, a timeline, medical support, mechanics, and volunteers to help them through their day, the families and friends of those athletes may just have each other and a general “idea” of where to be.  Figure out the best places to spectate by asking seasoned athletes where to go.  Triathlons are usually a spectator-friendly sport, but if you don’t know where to place yourself, you can spend the whole day running as many miles as the athletes!
  2. Take shifts!  Unless you bring a cooler, a tent and a chair, it might not be practical to stay and watch the whole race. There is usually a race “village” to spend some down time until your athlete is back near the transition or finish, but don’t count on it being enough to carry you through the longer events.  While most family/friends will want to see the finish, a swim start and transition can be an exciting place to show your support, along with watching T2 and the run.  However, if you do plan on staying the whole race, keep yourself occupied with food, games or good company. And take some time to rest, you will want your energy for the after party!
  3. Be patient!  It’s easy to get worked up if something doesn’t go right on race weekend.  Reacting without thinking can make the situation worse.  Got an athlete with a flat tire?  No problem, reach out to other athletes, bike shops and support crew.  Moods a bit tense because of fatigue/hunger? Take a deep breath and relax and remember that this sport is supposed to be fun!  And, be understanding of your athlete’s needs.  Something as little as dropping a fork can set them off.  Be patient, calming, and offer your help to fix the problem.
  4. Be overly helpful!  Whether it is something as small as holding their bike while they use the restroom or getting their coffee, any extra task that you do for your athlete can mean the world out on the course.  With a seemingly endless list of items to check off, race preparation can be as daunting as the race itself and having the right “sherpa” crew can make a huge difference.
  5. Smile!  I’m a big believer in the power of a smile.  In any race that I’ve competed in, I always go faster when I see the sidelines full of smiles.  Knowing that people are there who want nothing more than to see you succeed is an amazing feeling.  Happiness releases adrenaline and translates to faster splits. And while I don’t have scientific proof of that idea, it works for me.  So, SMILE for yours and all of the athletes.