Tag Archives: excitement

Race-Day Etiquette: Ten Ways To Be Nice

26 Oct

So you’ve been training for weeks, and the day is finally here. You are excited, you are ready to go, and you can already feel the weight of the finisher’s medal around your neck. The start-line energy is so intense that you’re practically levitating. As the crowd of runners surges forward and crosses the start-line, your focus turns inward as you concentrate on your game plan for this race.

As much as you’re focusing on your own race, it doesn’t hurt to spare a thought for the people around you. Here are some points of race-day etiquette that are worth passing along. They are listed in no particular order.

  1. Bandits begone! If you did not pay for the privilege of taking part in the race, graciously step to the side and get off the course. Run the route later. And definitely, definitely do not cross the finish line.
  2. Many races these days feature personalized race bibs that allow complete strangers to cheer for you by name. If a spectator takes the time to call out your name in encouragement, give them some acknowledgement: a thumbs-up, a smile, a wave – something.
  3. If you are, like me, a tens-and-ones runner, give other runners a heads-up that you’re about to take your walking break. Move to the right side of the course and raise a hand to indicate that you are slowing down.
  4. If you are a faster runner approaching from behind, an “Excuse me!” or “Coming through!” called out to the slower runners will alert them to your presence.
  5. Corollary to #4: if you are a slower runner and you hear the words “Excuse me!” or “Coming through!” coming from behind, move over so that the faster runner has room to pass safely.
  6. Porta-potty lineups should stay off the course, or if that’s not possible, as close to the side of the road as you can get. Runners should not have to trip over people who are waiting to take their bio-breaks.
  7. You know how you grab a cup of water at the water station and drink half of it before tossing the rest? Look before you toss, otherwise the runner coming up behind you might get drenched.
  8. While we’re on the subject of water stations, please remember to thank the volunteer who hands you your cup. Yes, you are tired. Yes, you have been running for two hours straight and your legs are turning to mush. But none of this could happen without the people who stand there for hours on end making sure you don’t get dehydrated. A small thank you goes a long way, and might even encourage the volunteer to help out in future events.
  9. If you see a runner in need of assistance, help them out. Whether it’s in the form of offering them a word of encouragement as they’re flagging towards the end of a race, or picking up something that you have seen them drop, it can make a big difference to their day, as well as making you feel great about yourself.
  10. When you cross the finish line, keep moving. Move as far down the finish line chute as you can. The runners coming in behind you are trying to get the best times they can – don’t make them slow down before crossing the line.

Runners? Any more tips to add to the list? Feel free to add them in the Comments section!

(Photo credit to the author.)

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The Cow Whisperer

15 Jul

It was a beautiful summer’s day in 2007. George, who was three months shy of his 4th birthday, had recently been diagnosed with autism, and James was 18 months old. Our world, which had been so badly rocked by the reality of having a son with a lifelong disability, was starting to stabilize a little, but at that point, we really didn’t know how much hope we should have.

The diagnosing doctor had emphatically – kindly, but emphatically – told us not to expect too much, ever. He had not given us a good prognosis.

On this particular Saturday, we packed the kids into the car with a picnic, and we went for a drive. We went in the general direction of some lakes to the north of us, but we had no fixed destination. We picked our route at random, taking whatever country roads we liked the look of. The kids were happy enough: we are fortunate to have been blessed with two fantastic car travelers.

All of a sudden, we heard George’s voice piping up from the back seat: “Cow!”

The van shuddered a little as we screeched to a halt. Back then, hearing George say anything at all was a cause for celebration. We turned around and looked at him, sitting there in his booster seat.

“What did you say?” I asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Cow!” he said again, his eyes gleaming with excitement.

I turned to Gerard. “I guess George saw a cow,” I told him.

Without hesitation, Gerard did a three-point turn on the narrow country road, and we slowly headed back in the direction from whence we had come.

It took less than a minute for us to see them: a field full of cows, lazily flicking their tails as they chewed on the long grass.

“Cow! Cow!” yelled George. The kid was practically levitating, he was so excited.

We parked on the side of the road and got out of the car so George could see the cows. The kids ran ahead of us to the fence, James tottering slightly on his chubby little toddler legs. We all stood at the fence together, silently watching the cows, who looked back at us with apparent disinterest.

Thinking that this would make a nice picture of Gerard and the two boys, I dug in my bag for my camera. The confounded thing had fallen right to the bottom of my bag, so I had to put in about two minutes of dedicated scrabbling. When I looked up again, I was confronted with the most remarkable sight.

There was Gerard standing slightly in front of the fence holding James’ hand. There was George, a little way further down the fence. And there were the cows – all thirty or so of them – flocked right up close to the fence where George was. They were showing zero interest in the rest of us, but they were utterly enthralled with George. He was fearlessly sticking his hands through the fence, and they were gently nuzzling him and softly mooing at him. In turn, he was smiling tenderly at them, with a look of absolute wonder in his eyes.

It looked like my son had some kind of cult following of cows. Like he was their god or something.

I wasn’t merely witnessing a little boy stroking a bunch of cows. I was witnessing this incredible moment of communication between boy and beast, a moment that was so incredibly powerful and beautiful.

George, like most people with autism, has trouble interacting with the rest of the world. But at that moment, he was in perfect harmony with the world, in a way that I can only dream of.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roymontgomery/3993908201)