Spectator Support: Races Connect Us!

TORONTO July 12th. Digital Champion Tina Benigno will be running her third full marathon at the STWM this October and turning 30 years old! Tina started running in 2009 for cognitive and emotional well-being, as well as physical health and has since conquered 3 half marathons, 2 full marathons and a few shorter races. You can connect with Tina on Twitter @tinabelinda and on her blog Tina In Stride.

Spectator Support: Races Connect Us! By Tina Benigno.

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” -Katherine Switzer

Sometimes training runs are hard. In fact, sometimes they’re so challenging, it’s difficult not to resent everyone around you who isn’t running! Am I right? I’ve learned that thinking about race day can help pull me through those tough runs, and I don’t just mean imagining myself crossing the finish line. What often carries me along is thinking of the people I care about and how they have been with me through my training and will be with me on race day! For me, this support keeps my angst in check because it’s larger than I am.

My first running event was the STWM half-marathon in 2010. I knew very little about races and was amazed by the crowd! I loved the incredible cheer stations along the course and how each one is better than the one before. The following two years in 2011 and 2012, I ran the full marathon at STWM.

For that first marathon, my parents went all out. They surprised me in the morning with a huge sign reading “GO TINA GO.” Needless to say, I WENT. I crossed the finish line with a final sprint and was feeling good! My second marathon was a bit more challenging and I honestly think that I would not have finished that marathon without the support of my friends, boyfriend, and parents.

Even if you don’t have friends or family coming out on the course to cheer for you, the great thing about STWM is that you will have tons of people (strangers) in the crowd who are genuinely excited for YOU. Aside from the beautiful waterfront course, one of my favourite aspects of this event is the incredible support from the sidelines. I’ve run several races now, and only after having run ones without spectators, do I truly understand the power that the STWM crowd can have!

Another thing that keeps me going during a marathon is knowing that some of the people on the sidelines have endured more pain and discomfort that I have in my training and the few hours of my race. After my sister was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, I became one of those people running for someone who couldn’t. At STWM you will see many people running with personal messages on their race shirts in honour or in memory of a loved one. You will find strength in these messages, and I promise they will make you dig deep and run a little bit harder.

It isn’t just the crowds on the sidelines that help us finish strong. The other runners along the course can also boost morale! Those other runners include us Digital Champions, so connect with us! We are here to cheer you on! Be sure to use the hashtag #STWM on Twitter and Instagram and visit the Epilogger Social Hub if you’d like to connect with other people training for this race.

Running is a solitary experience, no matter how big or loud the crowd. Having both loved ones and strangers alike rooting for you to carry on is heartwarming and inspiring. We each run for different reasons: fun, charity, health, in honour or someone, to prove we can do it, or just because we feel like it. Ultimately, distance running takes a lot of mental, emotional and physical energy, and knowing that other people recognize this, on the course and in the crowd, makes me smile.

I am very excited to be training for my third full marathon. If you’re out running STWM, give me a shout on Twitter and hopefully I’ll see you at the race. I hope to see many of you out there cheering too! I’ll  be waving right back at you…even if I’m crying a little.

What’s the best message you’ve seen on a spectator sign at STWM? Share them below!

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7 Responses to Spectator Support: Races Connect Us!

  1. Myron says:

    My favourite sign said “It’s just a hill. Get over it!” So I did. When I see the signs that say things like “Nice A$$!!” I always thank the sign holders (much to their confusion!!)

  2. Mike Shanks says:

    I LOVE the support of the crowd and often try and high five the kids along the route. Having kids I know how hard it can be for them to stand there for a few hours waiting to see mom or dad.

    As someone who has really struggled through the end of a couple of marathons, words of encouragement are good but please don’t tell me “You are almost there” when I have a km or two to go or “Don’t stop now” when I can barely keep from crying from pain and disappointment. Use my name on my bib, tell me how amazing I am, let me know that I am accomplishing something amazing, build me up, I may need it!

    • Tina says:

      The same is true for me! Hearing/seeing “You are almost there” doesn’t help me!

      I also love seeing the kids out there! :)

  3. I too love high fiving the kids. I think it is amazing to be at a big race and have complete strangers cheer you on as if you were an elite athlete. Best feeling in the world!
    Can’t wait for my first marathon!

  4. mike kolatschek says:

    That’s me with the “sexy, lazy” sign. Whether I have friends running or not, I am one of those “genuinely excited for you” spectators that wants you not only to race, but have a good time doing. I’ll be out again at this year’s STWM – see you then!

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