PHotos Courtesy Twin cities in motion
Early Sunday morning, thousands of runners from all over the world will line up in downtown Minneapolis as they mentally and physically prepare for what could be their first or umpteenth 26.2 mile race. Known as the most beautiful urban marathon in America, runners will follow the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon route out of downtown Minneapolis and around Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and Lake Nokomis before heading north along the Mississippi River and looping south to follow the stretch of Summit Avenue in St. Paul.
Even if you’re not planning on participating in the marathon (and if you haven’t been training for months, you really shouldn’t), being a marathon spectator and supporting runners is not something to be missed, especially if your own friends or family are participating.
Here are five ways to successfully watch the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon:
1. Make sure to catch the beginning.
According to many avid marathon runners and spectators, seeing thousands of runners take off on this incredible feat of endurance and dedication is awe-inspiring and, to some, (like my mother, who has run four marathons in her life) even emotional. Take a look at the start course map and plan your transportation and starting point. According to Twin Cities in Motion, spectator viewing areas for the start are located along both sides of 6th Street, west of Portland Avenue. You might not see your runner, but you will get goosebumps as you watch a sea of people embark on their 26.2 mile journey.
2. Bring signs! (And your cheering voice.)
Spectators have the big job of encouraging runners from start to finish. This is especially important near the end of the route since the Twin Cities Marathon is known for being difficult thanks to the lovely Summit Hill that starts at the 20-mile mark. Runners are going to want your support as they push through the last painful leg of the race. Check out these fun sign ideas, then hit the store for supplies—your friend, family member, or random stranger will appreciate the humor and support.
3. Situate yourself at the halfway point along Nokomis Lake.
If you’re at the Twin Cities Marathon to watch a specific person run, it’s a good idea to touch base with them on their pace and timing before the marathon so you can plan when you should be at each spectator spot. You can also download the event’s free app on iTunes or Google Play, which helps you track participants. But even if you miss your person, other runners will appreciate the support—only 13.1 miles to go!
4. Camp out along Summit Avenue.
Bring lawn chairs, signs, water, and snacks while you spectate underneath the pretty fall foliage Summit Avenue provides. Anywhere from the University of St. Thomas to Arundel Street (a 3-mile stretch) is a recommended spectator spot as you wait for your beloved runners to get closer and closer to the finish line.
5. Head over to the 26-mile marker, near the Cathedral.
No matter a runner’s time, the final mile is exciting for spectators (“They’re so close!”) and excruciating for the runners (“Why does it feel so far?!”). Cheer, clap, and encourage runners as they cross the finish line. They’ve trained for months for this specific moment—make sure you congratulate them on a job well done.