With the 70.3 World Championship race practically in our backyard, everyone seems to be excited about the upcoming weekend. With two days of racing, there are lots of opportunities for friends and family to spectate. Here are some of our top tips for spectating.
- Be self-sufficient. If you're going to support an athlete, make sure that you are familiar with the course, the schedule, the parking situation, and how to find your athlete after the race. The last thing an athlete needs before a big race is to have to worry about what type of experience their friends or family might have. You can find course maps online here and a map of downtown Chattanooga here.
- Wear your walking shoes. Many roads are closed and you may have to park far from the start/finish line. Be prepared to be active all day long.
- You can set up a 'spot'. Races environments are typically very friendly toward spectators. You can leave chairs/coolers/tents out for the duration of a race and come back without worrying about anything being taken. As always, don't leave anything of value (purses, bikes, etc) without a lock but your typical tailgating items should be fine unattended for a short time.
- Download the app and keep track of your athlete. The Ironmate tracking app is the best we've found to keep people up-to-date with where the athlete is on the course.
- Great places to see your athlete - at the swim exit, at the bike exit, at the run exit and on the run course. Places that are not ideal to see your athlete - the bike course.
- Swim Course: Know your athletes start time and estimated swim time and then hang out at the swim exit. Everyone looks similar when they first come out of the water in their swim caps and goggles so we actually recommend standing between the exit and transition for the best view. If the water is wetsuit legal, then hang out past the wetsuit strippers (yep that's a real thing and it's G-rated) for the best view of your athlete.
- Bike Course: Once they bike out of transition, you have between 2:30-3:30 hours until you might see your athlete again. This is a great time to check out of your hotel, get breakfast, nap, etc.
- Run Course: This is the best time to see your athlete. Find a spot where they will pass by 1-2 times (they do 2 loops of the course) and be ready for high-fives, massive cheering, and enthusiasm. If you want to be at the finish line, make sure you give yourself adequate time to get there. Often an athlete will pick up their pace in the last 1-2 miles.
- Costumes, signs, cow bells, and anything else creative is encouraged. Cheer for everyone you see - esp those who look like they need a little pick-me up. Don't be discouraged if you feel ignored. The athlete is either in the zone or hurting so much that they can't respond but they DO appreciate it!
- Be sensitive to the emotions your athlete is feeling at the end of the race. They may be exuberant or may feel discouraged at their performance. Don't be offended if they want to talk to their coach before they want to talk to you. He or she has spent months preparing for this day and finish line emotions can be intense.
- Have fun and be prepared to feel exhausted when it's over. Spectating can be just as hard as racing. You may be ready for a nap and that's perfectly normal.
Enjoy your time at the race and if you have other tips, feel free to share those with us!