Miles to go until the finish line, exhausted from all the miles you’ve already run, you wonder how you’re going to finish. You hear the cheers and claps from spectators and you pick up your feet a little faster. If you’re like me, though, your favorite type of support from spectators is a great race sign.
A race sign that makes me smile and laugh and, for a brief second, forget the pain I’m in. When I’m tired and losing motivation on the course, seeing someone who took the time to make an incredibly creative and witty race sign, reminds me that running is fun and motivates me to finish strong.
Conversely, lame signs make me sad. Why take the time to make a race sign if you’re not going to do it right? Here are some tips and ideas on how to make great race signs for your friends, family, other loved ones, and, the best of all, for all runners.
Race Sign Format
If you want to make a sign, you want it to be seen by really tired, possibly angry and out of it people, and if you want it to be seen by said pre-zombies, you better make it stand out. Here’s what you need to do:
1. High contrast. You want the words or photos to stand out from the background, so that means you need high contrast, which makes a sign easy to read quickly. I can’t tell you how many signs I never read because the person chose low contrast colors. If in doubt, use a white background with black letters. Works every time. You might be thinking, “But it’s boring!” What would you rather have? No one being able to read your sign? If you must use colors, think neon on a neutral background or opposites on the color wheel (e.g. orange letters on a blue background).
2. Big Letters. This is one of those times where BIGGER really is BETTER. Bigger = READABLE.
3. Thick Letters. It’s not just the inches, but the thickness matters too. Thicker = READABLE.
4. Block Letters. If you’re making block letters, fill in the space. Otherwise it’s hard to read.
5. Keep it Brief. Brevity is the soul of wit. You’re not writing War & Peace here. You can to get your idea across in as few words as possible. Think about your message and see if you can pare down the words.
What to write for your sign? You can do the oldies, but goodies like:
Run like you stole something!
Your feet hurt ’cause you’re kicking ASS-phalt!
Chafe now, drink later!
I prefer topical signs for their wit and relevance. When I make signs, this is where I go for race sign inspiration:
- Current Events. This is by far my favorite way. I go for what’s in the headlines:
- Pop Culture. Reference to a summer blockbuster or a hit song can make your sign:
- Go Local. Use something unique about the location of the race:
- Interactive. Giving and receiving high fives aren’t the only ways to interact with spectators. Make a sign or even a giant cardboard wall that inspires runners to participate in something other than wallowing in self-pity.
- Memes. Honestly this is probably the most fun way to make a race sign. There are so many memes and you can do so much. I made a bunch through Meme Generator. It was way too much fun. I should have been working instead.
What kind of race signs do you like the best? What are some of your all time favorites?