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How much does crowd support affect your race?

I've only run in smaller races (<500 racers) and crowd support is usually pretty minimal. Maybe it's because I've never had it and I usually run alone, but I think don't think cheering fans would affect me either way.

Discuss.

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I think it is more important the longer the race. they can give you some energy late in a race when you would rather take a short cut back to your car
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Good topic!

Personally I find it double-edged. When I'm doing well and feeling great, it's a good boost. But if I'm crashing and burning, I just want to be alone and not have to fight the urge to choke someone. :P
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:1:
If I'm crashing and burning, I'd rather be alone with my humiliation rather than have a bunch of strangers witnessing it... :(
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Longer races it matters as does what they are saying.

Having my own contigent present always helps slash some time away.
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normally I say they don't affect me....I'm pretty focused and tune those "doing great" "looking good" right out.....but as RTPD mentioned, it dependes what they say. I've gotten some pretty good boost from strangers when I know it's meant from me. I ran a 5 mile a few years back and at a water stop a teenage girl says to her "hey I like her shorts" and the friend must have looked up 'cuz she yells really loud "great shorts!!!!" for those wondering......they were my TX flag shorts.
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I definitely think it helps. Especially at the end when you've got a nice crowd cheering you on...There's a pretty big crowd waiting for you at the end of the Madison Marathon!!
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I agree with the longer race support theory. Crowds were very helpful during my long races. The Broad Street crowds are always the best.
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The only one I remember is some woman telling me "just around the corner.. you look happy and healthy!" It was about 100 degrees out that day and I was dying. I think I felt like slapping her. :P
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I love crowd support, and they do help at the end of a long race, but let me tell you all something...

I hate it when there is over a mile to go in a marathon, and people start yelling "Almost There!". Bullshirt! I am not almost there!

This was a particularly annoying line at Grandma's marathon, where at the end of the run, you make several turns, and people keep yelling that you are almost there, and you turn a corner and see there is yet another corner ahead.
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It usually pisses me off and I want to throttle them. But every once in a great while it invigorates me, and provide me with my great memories:

Second race, first half marathon = PDR. I was completely undertrained and unprepared and the weather sucked, which didn't help. I finally crossed the finish line, disoriented, broken, bloody, and defeated. Sheer determination and the screaming crowd got me through the last quarter mile. Strangers from the crowd picked me up when I collapsed and helped me to the med tent.

At my first (and only) 10K, the Rocky Run, I was dead last. "Rocky" came and ran the last half mile with me in his Converse sneaks so I wouldn't have to finish alone.

At a 4M race in Central Park, the women started an hour before the men. The support from the male runners at the finish line was unbelievable. Even the winner, an elite runner from Colombia, was screaming for those of at the back o' the pack.

At my last 5M race I was chatting with a woman pre-race about how I was really hurting due to a recurring ailment. We tried to stay together, but my ailment slowed me down. She reluctantly pulled ahead, only because I insisted she do so. She finished a few minutes before me, and waited at the finish line. When she saw me she started jumping up and down screaming "GO LAURI! YOU CAN DO IT!" This meant so much to me, this total stranger cheering me on.
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I wore my Texas flag shorts in the Marine Corps Marathon and all I heard for most of the race was "Go Texas" and "Hook 'em." But by the end I couldn't muster enough energy to flash the hook em sign. Crowd support is great, but it isn't much of a factor in the closing miles of anything really long.
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I think it is great, especially during marathons as there is only so long you can be completely inwardly focused. Wearing a shirt with your name on it at a big marathon with large crowds just energizes you to keep up your pace. With the larger crowds you can almost pull energy from them.
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