Thursday, October 4, 2007

the official unofficial TCM spectator guide

We here at the MDRA love gabbing about running. We don't talk about spectating too much, so here's something for the friends & family of all you runners out there. The Official Unofficial TCM Spectator/Snack Guide.

First few miles.
The start of the marathon is nuts. The field will start to get strung out by the sculpture garden, so that's a good place to cheer. Grab a cup of coffee at the Loring Park Dunn Bros, check out the Sculpture Garden, yell at runners.

Lakes Area
The uptown lakes are beautiful & busy. There's a Caribou Coffee near mile 4.5 in Calhoun Commons, the Uptown Diner isn't too far for those needing breakfast, and The Uptown is close for those craving a bloody mary.

Parkway Miles
Runners love miles 8-11. It's downhill, shaded and absolutely beautiful on the parkway. It's also really tricky for spectators to get to because of all the road closings. A good spot to go is Lake Nokomis. There's always a crowd at mile 11 where the race turns South on Cedar Ave. After cheering your runner at mile 11, walk a half mile over to mile 13.5 & cheer again as they leave Lake Nokomis & rejoin the parkway. If you need a caffeine fix, Isabel's (my local shop) is 4 blocks up Cedar. Also 4 blocks up is the Colossal Cafe - in my opinion, the best breakfast spot in town. Call ahead & order a breakfast sandwich to go.

If you're traveling on the South side of the marathon route, anywhere along the shore of Lake Nokomis is a good spot to cheer. Stop by Nokomis Beach Coffee if you need a treat.

Middle-ish Miles
Make an effort to cheer at mile 14, you'll be right by the best, mind-blowingly awesome donuts in town at MelloGlaze bakery (28th ave & the parkway). Get a Bismark. Thank me later. If the kids are in tow, head to mile 15 at Minnehaha Falls. There's a park, some scenery, and Hiawatha Joe is pretty close.

Miles 16-19 Are Hard
Mile 16-19 aren't hard for spectators to get to, but it's hard for runners. The field is really strung out so there aren't many people to talk to. Runners are starting to hurt, and there aren't many spectators per mile. If you venture to this stretch, yell loud & bring a cowbell or a sign something.

Near mile 18, by the bridge, is the Longfellow Grill - one of the best breakfast/lunch spots in town. Totally amazing.

Nearing the End
Mile 21 is a totally sweet place to cheer. It's midway up that brutal hill on East River Road, just before an aid station. It's fairly easy to get to from Lake Street. I'm not sure about snack spots in that area, I don't make it over to St. Paul often. Sorry.

Summit is always a madhouse, which is exactly what runners need. The course pitches uphill from mile 20 to mile 25.7 or so. Relentless!! Whatever you do, DO NOT SAY "You're almost done!" Mile 23 in a marathon is not "almost done". It's pretty friggin far from done. "Almost done" should be reserved for mile 26 to the finish.

The Finish
Determine a meeting spot before you get there. It can get pretty crazy. I'm a fan of meeting on the capital steps. It's away from the pandemonium, and it gives me a reason to walk after the race & keep my legs moving. Oh, parking will suck. Be careful you don't get a ticket.

Good luck!

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