Bib #3: Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge 10k

There were spectators on the course today. On the Boardwalk specifically, a looped area made to look like an old fashioned, summertime coastal Atlantic City. Spectators.

Non-runners assume spectators line every course, because that’s what they’ve seen on television during the Olympics or the New York City Marathon (if someone has forced them to watch such tedium). But the truth is, the sidewalks of most courses are empty.

So to have spectators on the course of a 5:30am race in 50 degree weather is something special.

It’s bad enough that we racers drag ourselves out of bed before sun-up in the heat, the cold, the wind and the rain; we’ve paid to subject ourselves to these rituals. The friends and family members that tag along, not so much. They wait, sometimes for hours, for a glimpse of a loved one. A brief wave or, if their runners is particularly laissez faire, a hug and a photo. The sacrifice/benefit scale is decidedly tipped in the runner’s favor.

On behalf of the runners, espcically those of us who run knowing there is no one looking for us on the course or the finish line – I thank you. I thank you for your cheers, your high fives, and the occasional Great Job Stranger! sign. I am grateful for the sacrifices you are making to give me a few seconds of encouragement in what can be a very lonely sport if we let it.

I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow.

In the blackness, hundreds of finish line spectators on painfully frigid metal bleacher seating. The sun won’t rise for another 40 minutes. Check out my live, start-line broadcast here.

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