Spectator Sport

The top 5 ways to cheer on your New York Marathoner this weekend.

Share This Article

In her 12 consecutive New York Marathons, Equinox trainer Margaret Schwarz has seen her share of sideline spectacles — from drum circles in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to throngs of spectators vying for a glimpse of runner Sean Combs in the Bronx. As she gets ready to run the world's largest marathon for a lucky 13th time this Sunday, she shared insider tips for supporting such an incredible accomplishment. Best of luck to all of this weekend's marathoners (and the people who love them)! 

1. It's much easier for runners to find spectators than vice versa.
"When people are watching a marathon, their eyes get crossed because they're looking so hard for their marathoner," says Schwarz. She advises spectators to tell runners not only which corner they'll be on, but which side of the street. (If you're not from New York and don't know north from south, just use "runners' left" and "runners' right.") Schwarz recommends stationing yourself after mile 22 on 100th Street and First Avenue, then walking over to 5th Avenue to catch a second glimpse of your runner. You'll have the added bonus of being close to Mt. Sinai and its restrooms.

2. Fine-tune your cheering M.O.
What's the worst thing to cheer? "Don't yell 'you're almost there' — because usually, you're not," says Schwarz. While it's nice to cheer on a stranger, screaming his or her name can be jarring and startle the runner. Instead, use runners' numbers and give them words of encouragement (i.e., "looking good, 32" or "looking strong, 29") in a calm, steady fashion. Schwarz is also a big fan of carrying signs or balloons, since they make spectators stick out from the crowd.

3. Pack wisely.
Schwarz recommends having marathoners run with their phones (much easier to stay in contact), and swears by the SPI-belt, a fanny pack-esque contraption that's just big enough for an iPhone and sits tight against the body to prevent chafing. Spectators, meanwhile, can arm themselves with extra shirts, socks, power gel and Aquaphor lip balm in case the runner needs them during the race.

4. Go digital.
Social media has changed everything, including the cheering process. Asics' "Support Your Marathoner" program allows spectators to send messages to runners, which will be broadcast on a big screen as the runner passes by. Marathoners can use the accompanying "Share Your Glory" Facebook app to send messages and progress updates to spectators as they race. "The social media options were great last year, and I've heard they're going to be off the hook this year," says Schwarz. 

5. Prepare your exit strategy.
"It's one of the hardest things to meet your party at the end of the marathon," says Schwarz. The copious crowds coupled with a dearth of eastside exits mean that Central Park can be a zoo. Instead of trying to find each other at the finish line, pick a specific street corner on which to meet. Bring a warm sweatshirt or a blanket for the runner and don't forget metro cards, since getting a cab can be a nightmare. (Schwarz suggests that Equinox members go to a nearby club, where runners are usually greeted with applause — not to mention hot showers).