There’s much attention paid to the athlete during an Ironman race and rightly so – with tips upon tips of how to train, what to wear, what to eat, when to eat. Lists upon lists of what to bring, where to put it, when to put it. But I’m yet to see anything addressing the needs of the supporter on race day. So here I am thinking it couldn’t be that hard – just do what the athlete tells you, when they tell you to do it and just don’t answer back. Fair enough, I thought. I could do that.
But as easy as it seems, it’s really not that easy. So here I am with a few tips for the supporter – actually just one tip.
Be prepared to be the supporter of the race. First of all, you will need to identify yourself as a supporter. A cute outfit, a backpack with all sorts of stuff and a fancy camera looking like you know what you’re doing is just not enough. With that alone, you just look like someone stalking the athletes and wishing you were one of them.
You will need attire that screams SUPPORTER – in the first instance you will need to identify who you are and who you are supporting – and include a few words of encouragement as well. You will need supporter gear – placards, pom poms, arrows, flags, and a bell – don’t forget the cow bell – whatever will make you stand out from the crowd. It’s not really important for the athlete to see you – because believe me you are the furthest thing from their mind – as much as it is for the other supporters to feel that they’ve been ‘out-supported’.
You see no one tells you this but there’s a competition within this competition – the SUPPORTER competition.
Having understood this from early o’clock, I contented myself with the fact that my athlete didn’t care much about that. He knew his #1 supporter was there, rooting for him, praying for him, knowing that no matter what happened in the race, I couldn’t be prouder of his commitment, his determination, his strength, his courage. A true IRONMAN. MY Ironman.
(Some pics of true supporters)