This morning I randomly remembered a conversation I had with my brother-in-law the day after Ironman St. George. He confided that he had briefly considered yelling out “Ironmen don’t walk!” to me at one point late in the race “as a joke,” but wisely reconsidered and bit his tongue. That was a smart move. If I had had any extra strength I would’ve surely stunned him with a shot of PowerGel to the eye and water-boarded him in an aid station cooler of flat Coke.
Excluding rogue bystanders such as my brother-in-law, volunteers and spectators make a huge difference in races. It always puts a little hop in your step when people are cheering you on. It is funny though some of the things you hear. Everyone has the best intentions, but some comments are really inspiring while others are, let’s just say, less effective.
This got me thinking about...
The top 10 worst things to say to a competitor at mile 20 of an Ironman
10) "Ironmen don’t walk!!" (already stated but worthy of the Top 10)
9) “Honey, I think you can do this!”
8) “Hey…no pain, no gain, am I right?”
7) “Finally, dude! Been waitin’ forever for you!”
6) Nothing said – just sitting on the curb eating a big juicy burger and a milkshake
5) "Can’t you just smile for one picture?"
4) (Running alongside, fresh as a daisy) “Come on, pick it up, lift those legs!”
3) "Pain is weakness leaving the body"
2) “Uh hey… gettin kinda late… you got an eta on crossing the finish line?”
1) "You can catch that guy!"
Having volunteered at Ironman Wisconsin and St. George before competing myself, I've been on both sides of the coin. Sometimes it's hard to know what to say when someone's really struggling. If only Ironman could hire the janitor from Rudy... some people might miss a cut-off or whatever, but I guarantee you no one would quit!