How to spot your marathoner from the sidelines
20,000 people will run this year's marathon. Here are our tips for finding the one you're there to cheer for.
Go to the Boston Athletic Association website (baa.org) on race day and enter your favorite runner's name or bib number to find out which of the 5 kilometer checkpoints they've passed and when.
2. Know your runner’s predicted pace
Runner tracking can go on the fritz on race day, so find out what pace your pal expects to run and then calculate what time she should pass your cheering spot. This is no time for modesty. For example, if she says she’ll run 9-minute miles but she really plans to run 8s, your window for spotting her at the halfway point would move up by almost 15 minutes.
3. Pick a viewing spot in advance
Don’t wait until you roll out of bed Sunday morning to decide where you feel like standing along the course. Choose a spot in advance and tell your runner exactly where you’ll be. Must-share info: The intersection, mile, even the side of the street you’ll hang out on—so they can align themselves on that side of the pack. It’s much easier for a runner to find you than vice versa.
4. Find out what your runner is wearing
Even if you’re looking for your twin brother in the crowd, you won’t spot him unless you know exactly what he’s wearing. And hopefully he’s wearing something other than black shorts and a white shirt, because that’s the outfit 44,000 of the 45,000 runners will don on race day (or at least that’s what it will feel like). Runners wearing colorful hats and tops are easier to spot in the crowd.
5. Decorate yourself
Tell your runner what you’ll be wearing, too. Some folks will hold balloons or large signs to stand out from the crowd of spectators, and that’s very cute and helpful, but something as simple as wearing a colorful hat can be enough to ensure you connect.
6. Don’t get caught in the weeds
After a few minutes of watching, bodies start to blur together. Constantly focus and refocus your eyes on individual runners as the masses fly by. If you can, rally a group to watch the race with you—or team up with surrounding strangers—and give them all the details about your target.
7. Never lose hope
As minutes go by, you may become more and more certain that—gosh darnit—you totally missed your friend and she’s already fist-pumping at the finish line. The reality: She probably hasn’t passed you. She could be running slower than she hoped (especially if it’s a warm or windy day), or she may be on pace but just began a little late after getting stuck at the back of a start-line corral. Don’t give up—continue scanning the masses!