I previously wrote on the power of spectators, focusing on all the positives of attracting spectators to your event. However, there are a few areas we must consider when dealing with spectators along our course or even within the start or finish line areas of our races.
Lately, I’ve been running in a lot of road races in preparation for the World Marathon Challenge (in fact, when you read this, I'll be a week from landing in Antarctica for the first of seven marathons). I haven’t participated in this many races in such a short period of time in 20 years. Back then, however, I was running fairly well, like in the 6-minutes per mile range. Now I’m closer to 7-minutes or even 8-minutes a mile. It’s a different experience running with the masses versus running closer toward the front with the faster and more competitive folks.
When I'm hired to direct a race, the client will often ask, “Do you think we should put on a clinic for the runners, too?” I am always torn as to the best way to respond to this. I’ve been to many clinics that were well organized and well attended but I’ve also been to as many or more that bombed, especially in terms of attendance of participants running in the race. It can be incredibly embarrassing to both the organizer and the presenter to be talking to an empty room with only six pigeons and three squirrels present.