I love spectators. I'm glad they're there, I feel like I draw energy from their cheers, and the louder and more boisterous they can be, the better. I can't imagine what it would be like to stand out side just cheering when I'd so much rather be running. So, hats off to them.
However, if there's one thing I wish they would never, ever say anywhere between miles 20-26 of a marathon, it's this: "you're almost there!" First, it's a lie. Six miles is six miles, and it's a pretty long way. It's about a half hour for even the best when they're fresh, and no easy task after 20. For many of us the last six takes closer to an hour, and if we've hit the wall hard, even longer.
Some schools of thought believe that half of the energy of a marathon is done in the first 20 miles, the last 6.2 is the second half. I fully subscribe to this, if you label "energy" as "mental fortitude." I looked at the splits of my marathon... 8:20 average for the first half. 8:08 over the first 20 (I sped up some, probably foolishly). But the last six were in the nines somewhere dropping my average to 8:22 or so. It was a long, hard slog, and I felt every one of those miles as a battle against my body's desire to slow down or quit.
In no way did I feel "almost" there until mile 26. And even then, when I spied the finish line, it still felt impossibly far away. Perception is messed on both ends, I guess- both mine and theirs.
So, as much I love spectators, I kinda wish they'd save the cheer "You're almost there!" for sometime after mile 26, when it feels a little closer to accurate.