Monday, June 24, 2013

Clapping...and Ultrarunning

For some odd reason I was just thinking about the very first race I ever ran--it was a road 10K in Frederick, MD, held in conjunction with a half and full marathon.  This would have been in 1980 or so.

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.
It's a good read, here. By the way, I've posted about "Why the Race".  Check it out, here.



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