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Cleveland Marathon – Use Your Sherpas!

My poor family husband has had to trek to 5 different states so far for me to run marathons. To say we’ve learned a few things along the way is an understatement. :)

J is the ultimate spectator now – he still can’t find his way around Cleveland, but give him a marathon course and he’ll figure out the best spectator spots and how to get to them in no time!

So I thought it might be fun to share some of what we’ve learned!

If you have a group of people coming to support you, give them headbands:


I can’t stress this enough. They cost $1.00 at Pat Catans and it’s so easy to spot them in the crowd!


If the weather calls for rain, like real rain, not just a sprinkle, give your “sherpas” an extra pair of socks and shoes “just in case”. It DOWNPOURED at mile 2 when I ran the Pittsburgh marathon in 2010 and my shoes felt like they were 10 pounds each for the rest of the race. It was seriously miserable.


And when my sis told me she saw someone jump out and change his shoes that his family had for him, I remember thinking to myself “how brilliant!”.

Ask to be dropped off at the starting line. There are too many people for your family to really see you:


So have them drop you off and head to their first spectating spot. Hopefully they’ll get a prime spot this way!


You are probably going to be COLD when you’re done running. Unless it’s 80 degrees, you are going to be shivering from the sweat and your body trying to figure out what the hell you just did to it. Ha.

So ask someone to carry a sweatshirt or coat for you so you don’t have to steal your mom’s like I did after Cleveland in 2010.


Thanks, Mom!

If possible, recruit one (or 2 or 3) of them to run a few miles with you. You may not be in the mood to talk, but sometimes it’s just nice to have the company after you’ve been running by yourself for 2 hours.


Miserable around mile 24 of the Columbus marathon last year. Not sure I would have finished without J!

And if you like a specific sports drink, fill an extra and have a plan for when you’re going to make the “switch”.


You can’t tell, but we were headed over to make the switch here during Chicago in 2012. Easy peasy!

And then be sure to thank them a million times over afterwards. It’s not easy being a spectator – they’ve spent all day chasing you around the city!!

Maybe even buy them a drink. Or two.


They deserve it!

Do you use “sherpas” during a race? What’s your best sherpa tip??

  1. May 12th, 2013 at 21:35 | #1

    When I ran the Glass City Marathon last spring I had my mom carry all my extra GUs as well as real food. She fed me chunks of Kind bars at mile 15, 20, maybe 21 and a couple others, this way I didn’t have to pack my pockets with a ton of GU either. She held on to all the extras so I didn’t feel like I had to carry it all. Which meant she had a bag for me to toss unwanted items to her too. I’ve passed off layers, a water bottle, and even my headphones before!

  2. May 12th, 2013 at 21:45 | #2

    My favorite tip, outside of the headbands, is to have the sherpas choose one side of the street so you don’t have to search them out.

    My husband (who would challenge Jay as the best athletic supporter!) always meets me right after the mile marker on the right side of the path. We have a great system and we’ve never missed each other.

    After the race, I need wet-wipes and bad! Hubby carries a small backpack with new socks and shoes, flipflops, wet wipes, bandaids, a coat and a banana and water. I never have to worry if the post-race food is out of my favorite things.

  3. May 12th, 2013 at 21:58 | #3

    Great tips! So far, I’ve really run both of my halfs without spectators! My Aunt picked me up at the end of my first and I was all alone at my second! I need to get me some sherpas!

  4. May 13th, 2013 at 08:04 | #4

    I **AM** THE SHERPA!!!

  5. May 13th, 2013 at 08:29 | #5

    Love this! My husband is an awesome sherpa. Too bad he’s started running half marathons now LOL. And besides the IRL sherpas, virtual sherpas are pretty freaking fab too ;-)

  6. May 13th, 2013 at 09:12 | #6

    This post made me just as emotional as one of your race recaps – it really is a group effort for runners. We wouldn’t get through it without our loved ones! So lucky to have such great support!

  7. May 13th, 2013 at 13:01 | #7

    Great post! Tony and I are training for our first half (and will eventually get the guts to actually sign up for one) so we can use all the information we can get!

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