Looking for a sign


A well-placed sign during a race can make all the difference in the world.

I hit a wall during my first big race at about Mile 18. I could feel myself start to flag, dreading the next eight miles, gritting my teeth and saying a little prayer to the running gods.

And then, up ahead, I spotted what I first thought was a mirage — my friend Erick standing on the side of the race course, holding a sign that said, simply, “Run, Zusel, Run.” Normally, I would have chided him for being cheesy, but in that moment, that sign was my salvation. I’m not going to pretend that all of a sudden I felt like I was flying and the pain left my legs, but seeing him there gave me the little extra push I needed at that exact moment. My gratitude can’t be overstated.

It’s often said that running is mostly mental, and I think my sudden burst of energy during that race speaks to that. There’s something amazing about seeing someone you love — heck, even a stranger — on the sidelines, holding a sign painted with some motivational message or funny saying or your name, cheering you on.

Some of my favorite race moments have come not from fellow runners, but from watching the excitement of the spectators. Little kids cheering their parents on are especially cool to see. This blogger notes some of her favorite signs from various races; variations on “Run like Kenyans,” seem to be the most popular.

Do you have a favorite sign or effort from a spectator from the Peachtree Road Race or another race? Do spectators keep you motivated, or do you find them distracting? Do you have people cheering you on this year?

21 comments Add your comment


June 14th, 2011
4:09 pm

I don’t have any friends who will be standing on the sidelines on July 4th, but I’m always glad to see Max Cleland out there cheering on the runners.

Reid in EAV

June 14th, 2011
4:42 pm

Yes indeed! Max is usually on the downhill between Lindbergh and Peachtree Battle. Making a mental note of that this time so I can say hi on the way.

Reid in EAV

June 14th, 2011
4:43 pm

Actually I saw one once that made me both chuckle and dig in. “Pain is temporary. Race results are posted online FOREVER.”


June 14th, 2011
5:05 pm

“Signs” are why I run the Peachtree Road Race every year. There are not many places you can go in this world where complete strangers cheer you on to victory and support your goals of endurance. In my head, the Peachtree is the way life should be — it is 6.2 miles of “love thy neighbor.”

Steven Ward

June 14th, 2011
6:37 pm

I have seen a lot of great signs in my 16 PRR endeavours. But the most motivating thing for me,is to see the patients from the Shepherd Spinal Center on Heartbreak Hill. That’s really let’s you know how Blessed you are.

agree with sward above

June 14th, 2011
10:35 pm

The Shepherd Center will put a knot in your throat.I hope the uga baseball player will be there to watch this year.If so, He will get a Go Dawgs from this Gator.God bless that young man!

Bryan B

June 14th, 2011
10:38 pm

Amen to that Steven. I run by the Shepherd Center patients every year and give them high fives and tell them thanks for coming out. It always reminds me how blessed I am to be able to run the Peachtree.


June 15th, 2011
5:47 am

when I ran the Chicago Marathon my favorite were “run you bitches” and “you’re feet hurt cause you’re kicking so much ass”

Gen Neyland

June 15th, 2011
6:13 am

In all races, I love the sign that says, ‘Start’. In a tough race, my second favorite sign is the one that says, ‘Finish’. When doing the PRR, my favorite sign post-race is the one that says, ‘Varsity’…

25 Peachtrees in A Row

June 15th, 2011
6:15 am

My favorite: Show us Your Pits! All male runners response by lifting their arms showing sweaty stinky armpits.


June 15th, 2011
6:42 am

The best sign I ever saw was being held by a patient from the sheperd’s center (choking up thinking about it) that simply said “You can do it !”. I think it caused me to run the rest of the way up cardiac hill faster than i thought was possible.


June 15th, 2011
7:08 am

At the GA Marathon this year I loved one I saw right outside Old 4th Ward: “That’s not sweat, that’s your fat cells crying.” The other fave was from a Tech student and it said something like “You are 74.846912% of the way there”.

Louisville Dawg

June 15th, 2011
10:57 am

I once saw three little girls with signs,
1- “Go Mommy Go!”
2- “Run Mommy Run!”
3- “Breathe Mommy Breathe!”


June 15th, 2011
11:18 am

@ProLove360 – If you love the positivity, you should join dailymile.com. You could soon have lots of “friends” from all over who follow your running and other workouts and give lots of encouragement and motivation! I love it!


June 15th, 2011
11:22 am

“Kick Asphalt”
“It isn’t sweat. It’s liquid awesome.”


June 15th, 2011
12:48 pm

I miss the twins outside the church…they always inspired me in that first part of the race. They made me smile and smiles are a good push too.

After that, “free beer” makes a nice sign…


June 15th, 2011
1:55 pm

In another race, I forgot my pain when I was passed by a wheelchair racer on the downhill, then passed him back on on the uphill…

Chronic spitters are distracting on the course.


June 15th, 2011
5:25 pm

Are there really “running gods?” Wow. Who knew?


June 15th, 2011
11:32 pm

I will be running my 19th Ptree in a row and always wave to the Shepherd Center patients!
This year is special because a friend of 20 yrs is now a patient and will watch the race from the Secret Garden located at the Center! He is from Penscola and didn’t even know about the race route.

Tim, I dedicate this year’s Peachtree Road Race to you!


June 17th, 2011
2:42 pm

I will be walking my first Ptree with the hopes and prayers that the UGA baseball player at Shepherd’s will one day be able do what we take for granted. I can’t wait!


June 18th, 2011
8:30 pm

“Pass the weak, hurdle the dead”