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Updated: Apr 18, 2022

This is a guest post courtesy of Steph.

It’s always great fun being a spectator at a race, cheering on runners as they make their way round the course and seeing their faces light up when they hear you shout out their names. I can tell you as a runner myself, the cheering crowds certainly means a huge amount to me and helps enormously, plus seeing familiar faces as you go around the course is an added bonus.

I got the opportunity to go and support some of our awesome City Runners at the recent Hampton Court Half Marathon. I had initially thought that I would run the race myself, but when the opportunity arose to run The Big Half I decided to save my legs for that (having suffered from bad knees I didn’t want to risk injuring them again by running two half marathons in such close succession). A lot of my wonderful friends from the club were taking part so I decided to brave the very early start on a frosty Sunday morning and become part of the City Runners cheer squad at the event.

So, what does it take to be a good spectator? It’s pretty serious business, so here’s my guide to race spectating:

  • Staking out a prime location – it is always useful to have something noticeable to help everyone find each other before and after the race and for runners to find their supporters along the course. The recently acquired club feather flag has been a great addition and was put to good use at Hampton Court.

  • Snacks – a very important part of spectating. Standing around (particularly in the cold), requires sustenance. At Hampton Court, the lovely Ivana (who was running the race herself) provided us with some very delicious home-made brownies and some extremely strong cherry brandy which certainly kept us very warm!

Fortifying ourselves!

  • Be loud and proud – cheering loudly is a very important quality in being an effective supporter, volume is essential. It’s always great to support everyone running, in particular those who are brave enough to run in weird and wonderful costumes. At Hampton Court, we saw all sorts of costumes including runners dressed as the Beatles, a smurf and even a padlock!

Thrilled to see the cheer squad!

Running as a smurf

  • Where to watch from – it’s always good to move around the race course to see everyone at different points, but what I have learnt from my recent experience is how important it is to be cheering everyone close to the end of the race. Personally, for me, it can be a huge struggle both mentally and physically when you are approaching the end of race so seeing some friendly faces cheering you on can really help you push through those last few kilometres.

Helping Tom to a PB around mile 11

  • Celebrate! – the best part of race day is obviously the celebrations after… true City Runners style, this would normally take place in a nearby pub with good food and a few well deserved drinks.

Posing with the Tudors before heading to the pub to celebrate! 

With the Big Half just around the corner, I know that seeing all the crowds cheering would make the occasion all the more special and for me will definitely help, especially through those last few kilometres to the finish line. So, with that in mind, I highly recommend those who aren’t running it to come out and support your fellow runners, I can guarantee it will be a really fun day out. And as for future spectating, I look forward to doing it all over again in April at the London Marathon!!

City Runners cheer squad at the 2017 London Marathon – see you there in 2018!


Ever since joining London City Runners, Steph has become a self-confessed running addict. She loves nothing more than running with her friends and has a tendency to sign up for multiple races when injured to keep her motivated. She’s finally looking to run her first marathon in Amsterdam this year having tried (and failed) to gain entry to the London Marathon multiple times.



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