18 Jan

It's Fun Being A Fan

As a runner, it’s not often I go along to watch races, writes Chris Broadbent. When I go to events, I am almost always taking part in them. But on the occasions I do go to watch events, I always enjoy them much more than expected. I had that experience most recently at the Exeter First Chance 10k.

It’s the type of event that I would usually take part in. It’s local, lots of club-mates and friends taking part, a flat, fast course and lots of great options for coffee and cake afterwards.

I went along as a supporter/baby-sitter. My wife and I took our toddler twin boy and girl to support my brother-in-law and sister-in-law while we also looked after their three little girls. On arrival, I had itchy feet. I love the pre-race atmosphere.

Groups of women nervously chatting and shivering.  Lean, athletic looking men performing extravagant warm-up routines. Luminous vested marshalls bellowing orders. My inner runner was getting twitchy. But I was resigned to the status of non-runner. I need not have worried.

When the event got underway as the first runners began to stream past I found the fun flooding back. The next hour flew by as people of all shapes and sizes in a mass display of human spirit as friends, family and complete strangers cheered them every step of the way.

The children smiled, laughed and shouted as hundreds of runners high fived them. Where else can you find such as atmosphere of camaraderie as at a mass participation run?

My three-year-old boy yelled, “You can win it Uncle Michael!” as he jogged past with 200 metres to go. Uncle Michael finished 229th.

You see! You can’t beat the positivity and optimism of these events. Post-race, the endorphins were coursing through the bloodstreams of sister-in-law and brother-in-law and all the fellow runners and the feeling was infectious. With the compulsory photos and coffee afterwards we left as a right merry band.

You see running is good for you – sometimes, even when you are not running.