Spectating at a destination marathon: Don't forget the post-race beer

As a spectator of a marathon one must make signs. It's crucial. Pretty much everywhere I looked I saw signs of support and people holding balloons to let their runner know they were there. In addition I saw many costumed runners. I think I saw about six Elvis Presleys.


A few good tips about destination marathons:

1. Ask the hotel to put you in a room away from the elevator, just in case there are partiers on your floor. Your runner will sleep better without their shenanigans.

2. Don't travel too early after race day. Get a later flight so your racer has some time to sight-see and recover.

3. Think of this trip as a fun one for you, but remember how important it is to your runner.

4. Get your course maps and directions ready so you can catch your runner at as many spots as possible.

5. Carry a phone, and if your runner can, have them carry one as well. (if they can't set a finish line meet-up spot.) Most races will have one designated, just be sure to discuss it. (I had to borrow a phone from a lovely Chicago police officer. Thanks 5-0!)

The destination marathon is on my list from now on. I loved being at one as a spectator and I am pretty sure Jen had the time of her life.


(And of course, don't forget the post-race beer!)


Jen and I recently traveled to Chicago for her first marathon. She began the Chicago Marathon in exactly the same state as she finished it: excited and feeling great. She's still in the Midwest visiting family so I'll give you all a little recap of what it's like to be a spectator at a marathon in another state.

In a word: awesome.

Now, I am not sure if it's just because we were in Chicago, home of the most elaborately garnished hot dogs I have ever seen, or if destination marathons are just the way to go.

Since I was there merely for support I got to do a bit more imbibing of local beverages (try the 312 if you are ever in the Windy City) and indulging in the food and late nights.

Destination marathons are actually quite wonderful for friends and family. While your racer is going to bed early and resting the legs, you, dear athletic supporter, can roam this new locale and stay up as late as you like. Unless of course it's Saturday night, pre-race night. Your racer could get upset if you stumble in at 2 a.m. and wake them from their much needed slumber. I was smart enough to be home by 10:30 p.m. so as to avoid this.

A benefit to this destination marathon is that when your racer is finished they can see some sights as well. You might have to wheel them around depending on the shape their legs are in, but the walking is actually good for them post-race.

The Chicago Marathon is one of the biggest, and I now know why. From the city to the people to the course itself, Chicago seems like it was made to hold a race like this. Runners travel through Boystown, Chinatown, Grant Park, and so many other historic areas. It's unfortunate that Chi-town didn't get the Olympics because I can totally see it working wonderfully there. If you have never been to Chicago I recommend adding this to your race schedule. And if you aren't a runner, go see the city on your next vacation.

See running Elvises, learn tips for destination marathon-spectating and more after the break:

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