When I crossed the finish line there were a ton of spectators who clapped and cheered enthusiastically. For. Me.
Never having run a race, I was dumbfounded and felt overcome with emotion. I was hooked.
Fast forward more than a quarter century and I still get a thrill from the cheers of the finish line crowd at an Ultra. I tend to think that more than a road race crowd, attendees at an Ultra race are a tad more knowledgeable about what it takes to do an Ultra...thus their applause means more.
Ironically, in today's REFDESK--my homepage--is an article about applause as a "social contagion" that can be started and stopped by the actions of just a couple audience members.
The quality of a performance does not drive the amount of applause an audience gives, a study suggests.
Instead scientists have found that clapping is contagious, and the length of an ovation is influenced by how other members of the crowd behave.
They say it takes a few people to start clapping for applause to spread through a group, and then just one or two individuals to stop for it to die out.