Ode to Fans

Abhishek Lahoti
3 min readOct 4, 2023

I like races. Sometime in my Californian life, I decided to run a marathon and haven’t looked back. I’m not sure if it’s the personal achievement, fitness, culture, or pain that drew me in, but ever since then I have chased the high of race day whenever I can.

Last year I took on my most difficult race challenge to date: complete an Ironman 70.3. I signed up for two events in the UK and set about training for the better part of the year to get ready. At one of the races in Weymouth, England, I found myself hitting a wall as I completed the last lap of the run portion (a half-marathon, for those wondering).

After 1900m of swimming and 56mi of biking, my body was in a state. I had trained for this, but in the thick of a race, all that preparation felt like a distant memory. I had paused my run and started to walk, the anguish and dried-sweat all over my face. As I passed the beach huts on the run, a random spectator saw me, pulled out a water bottle, put it out for me to take and (whilst walking beside me) said, “drink some, then pour it over your head and KEEP MOVING.”

I’ll never forget the energy boost I got from the water and spirited slap on my back as I trundled on. Suddenly I knew what I had to do to finish this, and off I went with the water bottle as my most treasured possession. I finished the race and achieved my goal, but I never got to say thank you to that wonderful human.

I’m sure this is just one story of countless experiences people have from races. In my life, it could be my wife rooting me on at every transition, or my good friend running beside me at my first marathon or total strangers offering hydration and sugary snacks. The adrenaline, comfort and push from a fan cheering you on is so impactful that i can imagine some of my races going very differently without the energy from a high-five or a clever sign as you whizz by.

So why do I bring this up? As I did a half-marathon a few weeks ago, I wondered why this feeling is distinct to races. Why are there not more fans in our everyday lives, helping and pushing us through the tough routes of our daily grinds? How much better would life be in everyday had that race day feeling?

I realize this is a pretty silly thing to expect; I think Peyton Manning did a commercial joking about this a while back. What I wonder, though, is just how nice a “great job” or “you’re doing great” or positive spin to everyday tasks might be? How many times do we wish we had more positive feedback at work? What if that positive feedback wasn’t just constructive to our roles but also a simple positive affirmation of our efforts?

As I raise a tiny human, I reflect on the joy she gives me, both on race day and with a simple photo I am sent during the day. Whilst she doesn’t know what it means to be a fan just yet, I hope I can set an example for her by becoming a better fan to those who are living great lives around me. Whether it be at work or in a daily situation, putting a positive cheer out there might just help someone finish whatever race they’re running.

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Abhishek Lahoti

Head of Platform @ Highland Europe, advisor of startups, new father, and perpetual confused person trying to make sense of life