Marathon weekend is a few days away, you have friends/family members/coworkers running in various Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon races, and you plan to spend race day cheering them on.
Consider this your guide to How to be a Good Spectator (with some helpful tips for runners, too).
Know where your runner is
If you want to cheer for your runner along the course, make sure you don’t miss them. The Illinois Marathon has a race app that allows you to track up to 25 participants on race day.
This year, Loeb’s husband will be tracking her using the app while she runs the marathon.
Loeb is a partner at Spiros Law, which sponsors the race app. Many of the law firm’s two dozen or so employees have been running the 5K together, along with spouses and children, for the past five years. When the firm decided to become involved as a sponsor, it seemed natural to sponsor the app.
You can use the app to listen to the prerace radio show or watch the race broadcast and to find information on packet pickup, the starting line and gear check, a course map and video and a selfie filter.
Go to https://illinoismarathon.com/logistics/race-app/ for more information or to download the app.
Know how to move around the course
The race will close some streets and intersections to traffic, so if you plan to cheer at different spots along the course, you’ll need to know how to get around town. The race website and app have maps that tell where you can park near the start/finish area, a list of the best viewing areas with suggestions for nearby parking, a map of the beltway to get across town without encountering road closures, and a map of the areas within the race routes and information on approximately when they’ll be affected by the race and how traffic will be handled.
Go to https://illinoismarathon.com/course-info/ for this information.
Make sure someone is watching the kids
This one is for runners. For the first time, a limited number of participants in the Illinois Marathon races will have free child care while they are running. Lodgic Kids Camp, a licensed childcare facility at 1807 S. Neil St., C, is offering free childcare from 6:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday for up to 40 children. Many parents have already signed up, and Angela Balcor, the community engagement director for Lodgic, said she expects the marathon day child care to be full or nearly so.
"We’ve heard from some people who thought they were going to have to drop out (of the race) because their child care fell through. It’s neat to see it’s a need, and we’re able to help fill that for the community," Balcor said.
"Our race weekend brings families together from near and afar," said race co-director Jan Seeley. "I am especially excited that by partnering with Lodgic Everyday Community, this year we are able to support families even more by offering free race-day child care. I don’t know of any other marathon in the country that offers that perk!"
Make a sign, and make some noise
If you’re going to be a spectator, make some noise! Cheer for the runners going past -- it really will give them a boost, especially in the later miles of a race. But please don’t tell them they are almost there unless the finish line is within blocks, rather than miles.
Make a sign for your runner to help him or her spot you along the course. There will be a sign-making station at the race expo, next to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank booth. Get creative.
A runner honor roll van provided by Napleton’s Auto Park in Urbana has a wrapper that lists all the participants in the Illinois Marathon races from the first year of the event -- 82,414 names. The van will be at post-race street parties Friday night and Saturday on Kirby Avenue near Memorial Stadium.
Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner and triathlete. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.