Richmond’s Monument 10K has grown and matured to gain national recognition. The race has been touted as one of the best (not sure in what categories) and last year was the 26th largest race in the country. With growth of participants this year growing to 37,000 (from about 32,000 the year before), it will likely move up into the top 25 as far as size.

Jen and I ran the race again this year (her 3rd, my 2nd) and enjoyed it. The race is not about the prestige or size for us (quite the contrary when it comes to running in packed crowds) and it is not about our time or place in our age group, etc. It is about fun. And believe it or not, running 6 miles can be fun.

What really amazes me along the race course are those who come out to cheer on the participants. Some have signs to encourage a family member or friend. Some have cow bells or clappers or pom poms. Others just clap and give a hearty yell “Keep going runners, WooHoo!!”. And it works.

But what is probably the best part is seeing the kids on the side of the course. They are typically in awe of the passers by, most likely trying to find their mother or father in the sea of people. But they cheer and they clap and the smile. And it works.

When we started the race, there were a couple of kids standing with their mother on the side line (behind the gate around the starting area). When we approached them, they stuck out there hands for high fives. Several runner ignored them, too focused on the race ahead of them to look at the supporters. I didn’t though- I gave them a high five (to their gloved hands, it was slightly above freezing at the start) and the joy on their face was immense. They were there to cheer and they had been recognized. They were thrilled. And it worked.

So encourage your kids to be good fans. Encourage them to support friends and family in events as the weather gets better. I recently submitted an article to CC Chapman for DigitalDads.com on Sportsmanship. If he has room for it, I will post a link, if not, I will post it here. Either way, it goes along the same lines- we need to teach out kids to be good sports, to be good fans and be supportive of teammates and opponents. These are skills that they will carry in life beyond sports, beyond the field or the race course. These skills will lead to success in their education, their career and their personal life. And it works.