Read Body Language at the Finish Line
The Raised Fist
A single raised fist signifies triumph.
The Upraised-Holding-Hands with Running Partner
They did it! Together! Nothing can stop them! They just might continue holding hands back to their hotel! Yay!
The Low-Key High Five with Race Official
A classy, understated acknowledgment of the organizers. Nice touch.
The Look of Utter Shock
The expression on her face? "HOLY &$%#! I AM FINISHING A RACE!"
The Look of Utter Exhaustion
His body language says, "I am about to collapse like a stringless marionette." His face says exactly the same thing.
The Kneeling Ground-Kiss
This one is usually reserved for the winner—or anyone who enjoys asphalt.
The Multiple Backflip
This person conserved a little too much energy during the race.
If a spectator or volunteer is offering it via tub or tongue depressor, it isn't energy gel—it's petroleum jelly. Do not ingest.
Navigate The Aid StationThe aid station, especially at larger races, is a living, breathing experiment in crowd dynamics, traffic control, sociology, mob mentality, Darwinism, and interpersonal communication. It can also be nerve-racking.
As you approach the aid station, decide where, roughly, you'll grab your cup. If there are tables on both sides of the road, commit to one side early and focus on that one.
Pass up the first few volunteers; other runners will be swamping them, leaving the volunteers farther down the road relatively free.
Pick a volunteer from several yards away and focus on him; make eye contact, and point at his cup.
At this point, the volunteer should be extending his cup to you. As you near it, reach out with your index finger crooked.
As you grab the cup, hook your finger into it and pinch the sides. This will form a sort of spout, making it easier for you to drink.
A short "thanks" to the volunteer isn't required, but it's a nice touch.
Note 1: Most aid stations offer cups of water and cups of sports drink. Pay attention so you know who's offering what, and grab accordingly.
Note 2: If you're going to stop or slow to a walk in order to get those fluids down, look around before you stop or slow, and move to one side of the road.