A cheer, magnified

Aren’t cheerleaders great?

I’m not thinking of high school and college cheer teams – though they may also be great. I haven’t been around those much in recent years.
I am thinking of the individuals and small clusters of people who turn out at events to cheer on the participants.
As a runner, I have long appreciated the clapping, cheering, singing, instrument-playing or sometimes wackily dressed bystanders who show up to add some energy to runners. Lord knows we need all the energy we can get.
What I have discovered is the power of magnification. Those cheers are easily amplified.

 You see, most people are out there to cheer on a specific person or group – a spouse, a parent, a group of buddies from work. But once you’re out there you realize that the cheers spread far and wide – and can be easily incited.
As a runner, you can feel the adrenalin jump when someone cheers for you. So a few years back I realized that I could turn (almost) every bystander on a route into a cheerleader for me – simply by waving their direction, giving them a thumbs up, or the occasion shout-out (as long as my lungs will allow).
Gotta love the spirit!

Gotta love the spirit!

The effect is amazing. People cheer. I wave and cheer back. They cheer more. Others on the sidelines wonder what the ruckus is about and start clapping. It’s contagious.

All of which, of course, benefits me – and anyone else out there running.
Most spectators are there to have fun. Many are ready to cheer whoever seems to want or need a cheer. At this spring’s Times Colonist 10k I had to laugh at the enthusiastic guy with the “Go, Random Stranger, Go” sign. Funny.  Energizing.
At my most recent race, the Oak Bay Half Marathon, a group of Victoria runners who interact on Twitter (using the hashtag #yyjrun) turned out to cheer friends, acquaintances, and (yes) random strangers.
Here’s one of their cheer signs:
Cheering you, me, everyone
Cheering you, me, everyone
 Kathryn Lancashire blogged about the experience here. Thanks to Kathryn, Kirsty Sheldon and other #yyjrun folks who were out there to add to the energy.
The moral of this story? Energy is not finite. More can be generated. Cheer the cheerleaders. They cheer more. We all get a boost – and a smile.


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