Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Professor for one year (week 36): Being cheered

Last weekend, I had a non-academic adventure: I ran the Silvesterlauf in Zurich.  I was one of the Happy Runners, which means I did the four big rounds in 60 to 70 minutes, summing up to 10km.

I love long-distance running, I did the Berlin Marathon several times and I ran some of the races as part of the ZüriLaufCup over the past years.  I will never win my age group, in fact, I'm always in the last quarter or sometimes even at the very end of a race.  But guess what: That's perfect!

People cheer for the very first runners, but those are usually very fast; so as viewer, you can hardly identify them.  And they are so focused, they won't realize who is cheering and what people are shouting.  In the middle field, it's mostly extremely crowded and runners hear a lot of cheering and shouting -- it's hard to identify the viewers who are actually cheering for you.

When it comes to the last runners, the situation is easy to grasp.  Runners are slower and only a few at a time, viewers can easily read the names on the number bib -- the Swiss print the actual number consisting of digits and the first name, most of the time the name even in a bigger font (Germans don't print the name or only in a very small font, so nobody can read it).  And viewers like it when runners react to their cheering.  There is a lot of high-fiving at the end of the field.  And even the marshals are a bit relaxed and cheer for you.  I served as marshal for the marathon part of the Zurich IronMan a few times, so I know both perspectives.

Of course, people pronounce my name differently, depending on the cultural background, or it's even changed into "Christin".  As long as it's close enough to the original, I take it as cheering for me -- when I hear "Natalie" or "Beat", then I know there are still runners following me. 

So the last Silversterlauf was a one-hour cheer-up -- you hardly find this in academia.  Recieving notifications for accepted papers or grants isn't as exciting as being cheered by completely foreigners all the way.  Or when was the last time somebody rung a big cowbell (Treichel) just for you as you ran up the Rennweg

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