The Richmond Marathon course takes the runners past the end of our road. They have covered approximately 14.5 miles as they cross 28th Street. We are encircled by the course making it hard to drive anywhere without having one's route blocked by a stream of athletes! I knew of a couple of people who were taking part, so I decided to go out to watch the runners cruise by. When I got to the course, a few pros were coming through shepherded by police motorcycle escorts. The flow of bodies gradually thickened, although by this point in the race the field was already stretched out. I spent about two hours walking between mile markers 14 and 15, stopping to take a few photos and offer encouragement, with pounding feet relentlessly jogging past me. At first it was inspiring to see so many people of different sizes and ages running together. At the tail end of the field it was a little depressing to see people struggling having only just reached the halfway point. However, by the time I turned for home the trickle had all but stopped completely and ahead of schedule for the cutoff time, so all the runners I saw were still in contention for a finisher's medal.
Having competed in a 10K run, where the entire route is lined with spectators, it was interesting to see the marathon pass through a residential neighborhood and still see long stretches without any supporters. It is surprising how encouraging it can be to have a complete stranger cheer you on! I spent a good amount of time on the hill up to the Lee Bridge offering my support to tired legs as they slogged up the grade. Hopefully it did some good.
As for the photos, I was hoping to get a shot somewhere that would capture the sheer volume of people, but nothing quite came out the way I had envisioned. I stood on a trashcan to try and get some altitude! By the time I walked up the the bridge the main field had already crossed, otherwise I would've climb up on a handily place police car to capture the scene... The fall colors helped give the pictures a little more interest. I never did see anyone I recognized!