The Other Side

So many times have I seen events as a participant or a volunteer. I’ve been a part of the action, whether I was out on the course trying to beat a PR or attending to a water station.

Not many times have I actually sat along the sidelines to cheer athletes on. Truth be told, being a spectator is one of the most important jobs of an event.

Sure, as a volunteer, you get a great chunk of cheering done as you’re aiding your station, but you’re also busy trying to make sure you’re doing your job right.

As a spectator? You get to solely focus on the event itself, and you get a chance to encourage and support every participant out on the course. You might never know their story, but every ounce of positivity that you put out there as a spectator surely lifts them higher.

Yesterday, I decided to go on a bike ride. I swam and ran on Saturday and I figured a bike ride would round my weekend training up. I wasn’t too comfortable hitting the streets on my bike where I was located and I loaded my bike up into my car.

I drove down to one of the free parking lots that entered the Coyote Creek Trailhead. The parking lot was pretty empty around 9am, and I figured I’d beat the crowds.

But, I was wrong!

As I got out on the trails, I noticed all of these runners wearing green shirts and race bibs. There was an event going on, and I had no idea! At least I had no idea until I asked a fellow runner what the event was. Turns out, it was an event I was considering running for a bit until I decided I had no funds to do so.

This event was the Vibha Dream Mile event, and it featured a 5k, 10k and a half marathon.

The races were well underway, and many of the 5k runners were probably already done or near finishing by the time I had gotten onto the trails. Many of the half marathon runners were already making their way back to the finish.

But what I noticed was that there were no, if any, spectators out there. The course was along a trail that was still opened to the public and it made me feel sad that there wasn’t anyone to cheer these runners on. The sun was beating down even at 9am, and I could tell some of these runners were putting their heart into this run. (All for a good cause, though. The Vibha Organization‘s mission is to “educate, empower and enable every individual who wishes to make a positive difference in the life of the underprivileged child.”)

Luckily, the direction in which I was going was along the course of the run.

As I slowly made my way out on the trail (I had no clue how far I wanted to go, I just wanted to ride), I cheered along every single runner on the course. Even if they had headphones in their ears, I cheered as loud as I could and flashed smiles to each and every one of them.

Honestly, it was such an uplifting feeling seeing the smiles on their faces as I cheered them on. I continued my bike ride with a smile on my own face. The whole ordeal left me with such positive vibes.

By the time I’d finished my ride, the water stations had been broken down and many of the runners were long gone and had probably crossed the finish. Even though I wasn’t a participant in the event itself, I felt like a winner.

As someone who has seen many sides of an event, spectators are my favorite part. So the next time your friend or family member has a race, go on out there and cheer them on. Cheer all of the participants on.

Spread the positivity and encourage others.

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