Lacing Up and Tying the Knot: The Royal Wedding For Runners

I consider myself an independent, rational, 21st-century woman, until it comes to princes, princesses, and royal weddings. On May 19th, 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said their “I Do’s” and you better believe I was watching! Did you wake up bright and early in order to watch all the guests arrive? Most TV stations began their coverage around 5 AM Eastern Standard Time, with the wedding itself starting at 7 AM. All of this was even earlier for our friends out West.

Getting up at 5 a.m. for a big event? That’s not too different from the time of day we runners often see in training or on race day. And you know what? Our new Duchess of Sussex (yes, I said our, deal with it) is even a runner herself! She is one of us! So what does the Royal Wedding have to do with running? More than you may think!

The fascination with “Elites”

The Royal Wedding was celebrated and watched around the world by royalty and common-folk alike (though if you’re anything like me, you’re a princess in your heart). Doesn’t that sound familiar? In most larger races, we have our elites and our everyday amateur runners. We look for Meb and Shalane at running races like we sought out the Clooneys and Elton John at the wedding. The star power at races and royal weddings is dizzying!

The Training

Planning a wedding takes a special kind of endurance. People spend months, maybe even more than a year, preparing for their big day. The day itself is full of activities, including: hair, make-up, final set up, pictures, the ceremony, reception, entertaining the masses, and somehow not losing your mind in the process. Sound familiar? We runners also face a gauntlet on race weekend: the expo! Picking an outfit! Picking a different outfit! Posting it on social media! Shakeout runs, runner meetups, pre-race pasta dinners, post-race beers … the race itself is the least tiring thing about it!

Sheer adrenaline can get you through a wedding day and a race. Meghan and Harry had 600 guests at their wedding and then continued to smile and wave to the millions who had gathered outside of Windsor Palace. Whew! Thinking of all of those people makes me tired. After just watching 3 hours of pre-wedding and wedding coverage, I needed a nap.

As we runners well know, race day magic is also a thing. You wonder how you will ever get through 13.1 miles (or 26.2, or even more), but somehow the power of adrenaline and running with the crowd makes it happen.

The Road Closures

Can you imagine what a pain it must have been trying to drive anywhere on the day of the Royal Wedding? For those living near the area, I imagine that they stayed home if they were not participating in the festivities. As runners we know that sometimes road closures for our races can make travel for our non-running friends a little more difficult. I know I have run by many, many stopped up lanes of traffic throughout the greater Indianapolis area during races. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the space between me and all of those one-ton death machines, as well as all of the cones and police who help keep it that way, but I’m not sure the drivers are as grateful.

The Outfit

There was much speculation about what Meghan would be wearing on the big day. Who would design her dress? What would her veil look like? Which tiara would she be wearing? E! News wedding coverage spent a good chunk of the time guessing which designer would be the creator of her dress.

Maybe the general public and media do not care too much about what we wear on race day, but I know plenty of runners who lay out their racing clothes or “kit” days in advance. We plan, obsessively looking at the weather reports a week in advance to make any mental adjustments to our ensemble. Meghan wore Givenchy; we wear Brooks, Nike, Asics, and Under Armour. It’s pretty much the same, really.

The Rules

We are all pretty familiar with running etiquette. This includes: passing on the left, raising a hand or moving to the side if you need to slow down or walk, not cutting the course, not running as a bandit, etc.

Most of the running rules aren’t really written down anywhere. The Royal Wedding rules, however, take up many, many pages. In fact, for the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Princess Catherine, guests were issued a 22-page list of do’s and don’ts. For the ladies, they are supposed to keep their shoulders covered, cover their heads (hence all the great hats), and not wear anything that garners attention away from the bride. And forget your pant suit! They are frowned upon. Men must wear a “morning suit,” “lounge suit,” or formal military dress. There are rules to address the Queen (she has to address you first – otherwise don’t even think about it!) and how to curtsy. Then there the are rules for meal time. This includes utilizing the proper silverware and holding your teacup and champagne glasses in the proper manner.

It’s hard to say who’s more stressed on the big day, a race director or the Royal Wedding planner. Don’t sign me up for either of those jobs!

The Nerves

Before a big race, most runners feel a little bit nervous. You have been working hard, putting in time running all of those miles, practicing your fueling, and sweating it all out. You have big goals and you don’t want to blow it! There are always some runners who show up at the start extremely confident, though. They have a type of swagger and just believe that everything is going to go their way today.

Royals are not immune to nerves on their big days either! And in their case (unlike most of us runners) the whole world is, in fact, watching. If you tuned into the broadcast, you could see Prince Harry did look a little bit nervous! Meghan, on the other hand, looked calm and composed.

The Inspirational Speech

Did you see the amazing sermon by Bishop Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding? Wow! He spoke about the power of love, love in all of its forms, not just the romantic kind. If that doesn’t fire you up to spread the love, I don’t know what will!

Who doesn’t love a good inspirational pre-race or pre-marriage speech? One that makes you feel like you are going to absolutely crush those goals? A good pre-race speech makes you feel like you can do anything! For longer races, inspirational speeches really should be peppered throughout the course — but we can make do with motivating signage. Love is not just reserved for weddings, our deep love for running inspires us to push forward through good and bad running days.

So next time you are preparing for a big race, treat yourself like the royal princess deep within you! You trained hard, planned your race outfit to perfection, studied your race etiquette. You can even be Queen for the day. Just don’t expect everyone to kneel before you at the finish line.

And congrats to Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex! What a beautiful wedding day! What? I’m not crying. You’re crying. Now excuse me while I queue up that E! coverage for the sixth time this week.

Did you watch the wedding? How many boxes of Kleenex did you go through?

A born and raised Hoosier running to stay sane. I've done 5Ks to marathons, but am currently running to enjoy running. I'm an orthopedic physical therapist, with clinical specialization in treating people with vestibular disorders. Other things I specialize in? Knowing the lyrics to every Backstreet Boys song and being an awesome cat mom! Living with Crohn's disease, but trying to show it who really is the boss.

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