1. The starting line, where between the nerves, music and cheers, you feel like you can fly.
2. Inspirational sportsmanship
The elite runner on the right passed her water to the dehydrated runner on the left, whom she saw was suffering through the race. She was on pace to finish first, winning $10,000 in prize money but because of her act of kindness, she finished 2n instead. A true marathoner.
3. All the motivational signs, even if they’re not for you specifically.
4. Kids holding timely signs.
Until you remember you’ll have to go back UP at some point.
(But in this case you’d be on the Great Wall of China and knowing that helps fuel you for a few more miles)
7. The support of the other runners.
8. People showing their patriotism by holding their flag high the ENTIRE time.
9. Runners showing their support of a united world by holding MULTIPLE flags throughout the race.
Ilie Rosu carried a Romanian flag along with the flag of the country he was running in (in this case, Greece) throughout the race to advocate for unity and peace between nations.
10. Or runners willing to hold up anything throughout the marathon even though there’s no reason to make it harder on yourself.
12. If you’re on a route that loops back, seeing the first runner to lap you.
This sounds like it would be defeating, but everyone cheering for the crazy fast runner of the pack as he runs back towards the finish line is enthralling, both for the support and the amazement that any human could run so freakin’ fast.
13. The police officers who not only are there to protect you but to support you.
14. Support from bad-asses.
16. Every time you see another mile marker, confirming that you have one less mile of pain ahead of you.
17. If you’re lucky, Fauja Singh, 101-year-old marathon runner.
18. Runners running with their kids.
22. And the volunteers handing them out.
You almost want to stop and hug them
23. Because this relief is extreme and unbelievable.
24. Almost as unbelievable as these meccas of relief.
Even if you end up being lucky and never having to go, it gives you peace of mind that they’re there if you need them. And that others are less likely to do unsightly things while running….
25. A penguin?
OK, so you most likely won’t see one but it’s all part of the magic that means ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
27. Someone who has beaten the odds and is kicking ass.
28. Your fellow runners who remind you that you’re all in this together.
29. Supporters lending their super powers on your last mile!
31. Triumphs of love.
This man runs every marathon with his son, Rick who has cerebral palsy.
32. More triumphs of love.
This is a woman crossing the finish line after her boyfriend pushed her most of the way in her wheelchair. Just a few months before, she broke her spine.
33. This beautiful sign.
Nothing more glorious.
Even if you think your arms can’t move anymore, this pose is automatic.
BECAUSE YOU ARE A CHAMPION.
34. Oh, and then there’s the snacks at the finish line
(If you’re not throwing up)
35. The space blanket that awaits you in your triumphant hour.
Fittingly, it can double as a cape.