The New York Marathon is in less than two weeks. It will be the fifth marathon I’ve been in the City for, and except for the time when I wrote a story about a couple of runners, my contact with it has been minuscule. As in, “Oh, you mean the marathon was today?” or “Why are there so many people wearing numbers?” This, despite the fact that every year ads for the marathon are plastered in the subway stations. It somehow manages to be lost for me in the excitement of Halloween and the anticipation of Thanksgiving.

That’s changing this year. It’s been ages since we volunteered to help at a race and we’ve never actually gone just to cheer the runners on. And yet I’m told, and I can imagine, that there is nothing more motivating and/or exciting than seeing the masses of people as they channel the energy of the City and the spectators into the culmination of months of preparation and training. Since we have plans to run a couple of marathons next year, this might be what we need to get us truly excited about the early morning runs, the long runs, the hard runs that will get us to the finish. Plus we have a friend running it and I think it would be fun to cheer him on.

Runner’s World has a list of suggestions in this month’s issue of how to get involved with a marathon without actually having to run it. Some thoughts:

  • train with someone who is running a marathon. I know it’s always great to have someone join you at the end of a long run. They’ll thank you for giving them something new to talk about and helping those last arduous miles pass more quickly.
  • offer some aid. Running clubs often sponsor supported long runs on the weekends. Volunteering to be that support — hand out water or Gatorade, gu or power bars — to runners who are prepping for the marathon.
  • join a relay. Some marathons offer relay options in which several runners take a leg of the marathon. It can be a great way to get a taste of a marathon even if you aren’t ready to commit to the full 26.2.
  • cheer. It’s fun. It’s inspiring. Do it.
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