As we put the final preparations in place for this year’s race, we’re sharing “26 Tips in 26 Days” to make sure you’re ready to go on race day. Click here to read them all, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Yesterday we shared some great places to watch your athletes. Today, we’re sharing a first-hand account from a spectator who has become somewhat of an expert at maneuvering her way around the course to catch her husband’s race. We thank Rachel Lewis for graciously sharing her tips with us. Editor’s note: these tips were from a couple years ago, but they still are relevant to our course. Additionally, we have partnered with COGO Bike Share for the first time this year on our Self-Guided Bicycle Tour of the course – please download the Tour here.
This was my third year watching the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon. My husband has run the full marathon three years in a row and I LOVE this race. I don’t usually go with him to other races he runs, but I actually enjoy cheering him on every year at the Cbus Marathon!
- I always review the marathon map with my husband so he knows approximately where I will be to see him, take any gear and replenish anything he needs.
- He knows I will always be on his left, and I make sure he knows what I’m wearing and that my sign has his name in big bold letters so he can find me easily, too.
- I wear a backpack with some of his essentials and mine, and plenty of room for our layers as they come off!
- We also ballpark his race pace so I know how long I have between stops. Plus the Real-Time Race Tracking app is FANTASTIC for keeping up when he inevitably gets out faster than expected 🙂
5:30 a.m. – Leaving bright and early!
- We are lucky to have a parking spot in the Arena District (click here to secure pre-paid parking in advance). We avoid traffic two ways: 1) Leaving extra early and 2) Taking the High Street/Convention Center exit off of 670 E (exit is on left) instead of going onto 3rd or Goodale.
- This exit goes behind the convention center on Convention Center Drive for quick access (in and out) to parking at the Hilton, garages and surface lots which are less crowded. It also provides access to the north side of the convention center for more parking options away from the fray.
7:00 a.m.- Head to first spot – Broad Street Presbyterian (short of mile 2)
- I don’t try to catch my husband (or other runner friends) at the start. Instead, I make my way down to Broad Street Presbyterian. It allows for two viewing spots (this year a bit before mile 2 and around the corner at mile 8.)
- I grab a CoGo bike at Nationwide and Front and walk it until I can hop on. We have a CoGo membership, but it is absolutely worth the $8 to have access to these for the day (again, CoGo and the Columbus Marathon partnered to develop this self-guided bike tour). I take the bike out to Parsons and Oak to park it and walk the couple blocks to the church.
- I’m in place by 7:30 and can hear the fireworks and kickoff music, still exciting 2 miles away!
- A nice perk of being this far out is the chance to talk with other spectators, find out who they are rooting for and help each other cheer for our runners once they go by 🙂
7:45 a.m. – Warm up!
- I can’t say enough how wonderful the congregation is at Broad Street Presbyterian! Their members turn out in force to welcome spectators, offer a place to warm up, provide refreshments and – possibly most importantly – they have heavenly, clean bathrooms (they do accept donations, so I recommend bringing cash.)
- One of my friends was a first-time spectator this year and I recommended she meet me at the church. She was able to find parking, and navigate her toddler in a stroller to cheer on her husband in the same spots I did!
8:15 a.m. – Head to Mile 8
- I walk the couple blocks toward the mile 8 marker and find a place to cheer!
- After my husband passes by, I make my way back downtown with my friend to pick up another bike.
8:45 a.m. – Head to Miles 23-24
- I pick up another CoGo bike at Sensenbrenner park and ride it up to Goodale and Front to find a safe place to cross the course without interfering with runners.
- I take the bike down to Neil Ave and make my way to the bike stop at 3rd and Michigan in Victorian village.
- This stop is right around the corner from Cafe Apropos, and I had time to appreciate another clean bathroom, order a latte and a bagel and find a seat on the patio to cheer between miles 23 and 24!
- Spectator note: I really like being able to see the names of the other runners on their bibs – it makes it easier to cheer for them personally, especially if someone looks like they need some encouragement.
9:30 a.m. – Head to Finish Line
- I don’t try to catch my husband crossing the finish line due to the crowds, but he makes sure his finish line race photo doesn’t disappoint 🙂
- I ride back downtown and park my bike at the station on Nationwide Blvd near Arch Park and headed to the family reunion area.
- And that’s it! I always have fun working my way around the city, and end up getting a decent workout myself 🙂