Out There: What If We Yelped Aid Stations?

There’s a Yelp review page for every food joint these days, from the fanciest restaurants to the taco trucks parked outside your office building. That’s because we, as consumers, want to know where to spend our money—if we’re going to check out that smoothie bar down the street, we’d like to make sure no one’s gotten food poisoning there first.

Yet on race day, we runners will go through aid stations with reckless abandon, grabbing cups from strangers and fistfuls of food tasting like god-knows-what, that have been manhandled by god-knows-who. In a marathon, we don’t have the luxury of choice—we have someone thrusting a gel packet in our face, and that’s on par with white-glove service from a tuxedo named Jacques.

For most people, at least.

After races, I’ve heard mostly praise of on-course fuel and volunteers – and almost as many criticisms. If Yelp existed for aid stations, the reviews would be as varied as the runners themselves.

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