Crowd support essential - marathon for a beginner?

Hi all


Just wondered if I would cope better running my first marathon with good crowd support.  Or, is a scenic route enough to keep me going?  I have completed 2 halfs in around 2 hours.  Run on roads, mainly. Any advice appreciated.


  • I've often said, in contrast to some others (whose views are not necessarily worth less than mine, of course - they just have a different opinion), that maybe the concerned beginner is better off doing something like London (if they can get in - that's a whole different debate) because you are guaranteed morale-boosting crowds all the way around, even in the wet. Of course, only you can know how your morale copes with long lonely runs. it's probably safe to say that Snowdonia or Loch Ness are probably not your best first marathons, but even on the remote marathons you will find pockets of support and you will usually be near some other runners (again, part of this depends on your likely speed - you will be somewhere in excess of four hours judging by your halves).

  • You won't have crowds supporting you on your 20 mile runs.

    Only you can get round the race - the crowd can't do the running for you.
  • On my first marathon, I didn't see another runner for about 5 miles in one section until I picked off the guy in front. It was rural and hilly, and definitely no crowds. Quite enjoyed it and ran controlled; it was very much like a long run for parts of it, only quicker. As coughie said, you'll be training for long periods of time with only yourself for company - so its good to get used to the self motivation.

  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭

    I'd have thought that almost everyone would benefit from running a marathon with crowd support - and benefit significantly. So if you've a doubt about succeeding, then choose a big marathon.

    It's human nature... psychology makes such a difference - often a difference that is hard to explain physically.   It's one reason why home football teams win more often than away teams.

  • How much of a lift do the crowds at London give you? I ask because at the end of my long runs I'm burst and wonder where I'm going to find an extra 6 miles? Does the atmosphere and volume of people lift you that much?
  • JeremyGJeremyG ✭✭✭
    The crowds can lift you substantially, there are also bands and music playing which all lift and distract you. My first two the crowds helped (London and Dublin ). As others have said once you are used to long solo runs the support is not such a big issue. Get your name on your vest as people will cheer you on by name then.
  • When the crowd cheers you it can feel like someone just topped your empty fuel tank back up to the top!

    I remember walking the last half of a 10k and thinking I was going to have to crawl over the finish line - but when I turned that corner and saw the finish line the crowd were going mental (and because I was one of the late stragglers I was the only one in sight at the time) and it was amazing! I HAD to cross that finishing line running no matter what. And it worked, they gave me the boost I needed and I somehow belted across the line at top speed.

    If felt amazing image

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    I think the crowd helps towards the end.  My first marathon was the Edinburgh marathon last year.  I was under-prepared and it was HOT.

    The main sponsor of the Edinburgh marathon is McMillan so there were loads of pockets of McMillan sponsors who went mental every time a McMillan runner went past shouting their names out etc (as they had names on their top).  I ran beside a McMillan guy for a while and it was doing my nut in, so I can only imagine it was doing his nut in even more.  What I mean here is - we're both struggling at about the same pace (I finished in 4:48 - it was a struggle!) and every mile or so (or even less sometimes) someone's going "Go on Mark, keep going,  you're doing great" and they're banging those blow up stick things together.  I didn't enjoy that part of the support at all.  It just got really monotonous and I think "Mark" thought the same thing.

    What was great at Edinburgh though was the crowds of local people in Musselburgh etc handing stuff out to the runners and qutie a few out with their hoses, giving you a nice cool shower on the way through if you wanted (that was awesome in the 25 degree heat!).

    The wall of noise for the last couple of miles are great to spur you on to the end as well.

    My second marathon was the Loch Ness marathon, and I much preferred that experience.

    I don't think you need the entire course lined with supporters to spur you on - the first half of a marathon is relatively easy if you're even semi-prepared and in fact up to about 16/17 miles should be comfortable.  It's after you hit the wall (if you hit the wall) that the encouragement really helps.  So, in an ideal world for me, I'd have seen only the hose-toting supporters from about mile 10-18 but nobody else, a crowd of supporters at each mile marker from then on to cheer you past each little milestone and then a wall of noise from about 24 miles until the finish.

    Not asking for much, am I?

  • Thanks for the advice - I see what you mean about not having a crowd for every long training run!

    Yes - I think I might need noise towards the end but maybe a scenic, fairly flat route is, for me, the most persuasive factor in making a decision.  

    As for doing the London marathon - bit concerned about costs - getting there accommodation for family, transport, etc.

    So ... ideally an Autumn marathon somewhere in the south of England!  Just need the perfect training plan - preferably involving 3/4 runs a week at most.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭
    I enjoyed my first Leicester last year lots of crowd at start and 1st km, then out into wilds with crowds each few km in towns, but back into town and you run through Leicester main streets with crowds either side Upto the finish which was great.

    So I guess a bit of bothimage
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