The Smart Alec Poster Cult
Banks, insurance companies, lending institutions, automobile manufacturers, municipalities, and Wall Street? Yes.
You after mile 21? No.
After youâ€™ve run a few marathons, you begin to notice themes. Some races are tougher than others. Some courses are beautifully scenic. Sometimes you run elbow to elbow with thousands of people. Other times you virtually race alone. Within this variety of experience, one constant remains: the imaginative marathon fan.
In a way, marathon fans are more unusual than marathon runners. Itâ€™s one thing to take your body to the point of collapse. Itâ€™s another thing entirely to encourage someone else to do it. And thatâ€™s the rub. Marathon fans are more than just spectators. They have a job to do. They must help their runner drag his or her sorry carcass across the finish line.
Fans have two primary means of cheering runners: vocal chords (drop by Wellesley during the Boston Marathon and youâ€™ll experience this to great effect) and naturally, the hand-made marathon poster.
Creative posters are the spice of the marathon experience. The most inventive rise above the bland â€œRun mommy!â€ or â€œYou can do it!â€ variety. Signs can be witty, sarcastic, comedic, inspirational, confrontational, and yes, even vulgar.
Theyâ€™ve become something of a genre unto themselves. Iâ€™ve found brilliant examples. Hereâ€™s the first batch:
2008 Marine Corps Marathon | Photo by Kicksie courtesy of Flickr.
If Lisa survived this race, her biggest fan will have considered it a crowning achievement. Really, we should all have such support, especially at work.
â€œI know youâ€™ve got umpteen thousand status reports to write, but thereâ€™s no rush. As long as you live through the process, management will be completely satisfied.â€
Perhaps the same consideration should be given to this fan, who apparently wasnâ€™t concerned about which way the sign was facing.
Encouragement for the Rest of Us
New Jersey Marathon | Photo by shanonala courtesy of Flickr.
Most marathoners are not very fast. According to the USATF, the median finishing time for males is 4:19:52; for females, 4:52:55.
So, these intrepid fans really know how to motivate the meatiest part of the bell curve: By imploring runners to beat Oprahâ€™s respectable 4:29:20.
Another target that could provide supreme motivation: George W. Bushâ€™s 3:44:52.
2005 Chicago Marathon | Photo by fxdirect courtesy of Flickr.
No Joe! You should run! Hopping is much harder and will put undue stress on your knees, shins and kidneys.
Do not listen to this woman.
A Gift for Understatement
2007 Chicago Marathon | Photo by soundfromwayout courtesy of Flickr.
Most marathon posters offer highly superlative encouragement. Runners see endless signs of the â€œMy Parent is Awesomeâ€ or â€œYouâ€™re My Hero [Frank, Joe, Chet, etc.]â€ variety. The nonstop overstatement can become a bit boring.
Annieâ€™s sign rises above the din. One imagines the author seeking to inspire uniquely without resorting to exaggeration (or engendering undue pride). He has succeeded brilliantly.
Unless of course Annie was expecting superlative encouragement; In which case, heâ€™s failed miserably.
It’s the thought that counts.
2006 New York City Marathon | Photo by Elizabeth Wentling courtesy of Flickr.
â€œâ€¦ But I still went to great pains to create a highly legible, humungous sign. I also risked my life to hang it on a precarious fire escape while nursing a brutal hangover. So when we get to Rotherâ€™s, youâ€™re buying, dude.â€
2006 Los Angeles Marathon | Photo by concrete cornfields courtesy of Flickr.
I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s funnier, the (presumed) woman in Fredrickâ€™s of Hollywood lingerie, the outrageous offer or the cheesy covered sofa complete with low rent boom box. An upscale gentlemanâ€™s venue, this is not.
Locals know this to be the infamous Venus de Midol (seriously). Her annual tawdry proposal is not a joke. Yes readers, itâ€™s for real.
I find it necessary to offer prospective clients a few words of advice. If youâ€™re keen for a lap dance, may I suggest a more private setting when you are less exposed publically, clad in something other than marathon attire, not encrusted with salt and can independently verify the gender of the dancer.
To be continued…
A host of witty marathon signs are on the way. Come back on Wednesday January 28th for more!
January 24th, 2009 at 5:46 pm
Great signs! 🙂 Looking forward to the next installment! These always give me a good chuckle.
January 25th, 2009 at 8:18 am
I’m not a runner, but this makes me want to consider it! Love the posters – I never really knew about that part of the marathon culture. Thanks for sharing…
January 25th, 2009 at 2:56 pm
Do you really want a lap dance in the middle of a marathon? It would be WAY nicer if she was at the end. 🙂
January 25th, 2009 at 9:38 pm
True Story: At my first Boston Marathon (2007) there was a gal at mile 25 holding a sign that said “Your mile 25 prize: a kiss!”
So, I ran up to her – got my kiss, then turned around and jogged the reverse direction about 20 yards, then ran up to her again and get a second kiss.
When I turned to jog reverse of the crowd again (so I could come back for a third kiss) she exclaimed that she had now instituted a “Two Kiss Limit” and I had reached my limit! *grin*
January 26th, 2009 at 1:33 am
Hi, Dean nice post, I think this posters are funny and witty especially the last one. good work
January 26th, 2009 at 5:10 am
[…] Another funny marathon poster I have seen was a this one from a collection on deans blog! […]
February 6th, 2009 at 9:08 pm
Then there’s this priceless one, from the Spokane Marathon:
April 19th, 2009 at 5:11 am
Love your website.
I’ve posred a link on ‘www.mymarathonclub.com’, as well as made mention of it in the ‘Boston 2009’ thread on http://www.coolrunning.com.au.
Keep up the good work.
April 30th, 2009 at 2:35 pm
Hilarious post. I have been laughing outloud at these posters. one of my faves is the “You can do it Lisa! Don’t Die!” I kind of needed that when I ran my first marathon back 2006. I would like to do another one & might need to challenge my family to come up w/ something clever like that. I could have used something to laugh about around mile 21! 🙂
Oh, and your comment about the avg finish times made me feel alot better about mine… although it is still slower than Oprah, so I still have some work to do…