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Race Etiquette For Every Runner

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Will you be participating either in a ‘Resolution Run’ on New Year’s day or in 5K races this Spring? If so, pay careful attention because I’m about to remind you of the unwritten ‘rules’ of running a road race.

To avoid annoying fellow runners (and prevent looking like a newbie), be sure to follow these etiquette guidelines when participating in races:

  1. Pay for your spot:
    Running in a race you haven’t entered, is also called “banditting”.  It’s not fair to race organizers, volunteers, and especially the people who have paid to participate. It’s also unsafe, since race organizers plan their course amenities, such as water and sports drinks, and medical assistance based on the number of people who have signed up for the race. And overcrowded race conditions can lead to falls  and other problems.
  2. Line up properly
    Faster runners should line up at the front of the starting line, slower runners and walkers at the back. Some races have corrals based on estimated pace or post pace signs, but most do not. If not, ask runners nearby their anticipated pace, and if it ‘s faster than yours, move further back. Most races use timing chips, so the time it takes you to reach the starting line won’t count in your final net time anyways.
  3. Don’t take up the whole road
    If running as a group, don’t run any deeper than two abreast, otherwise it makes it difficult for faster runners to pass you, and they may try to cut in between you.
  4. Slower traffic stays right
    The same rules apply to running as it does to driving – slower traffic should stay right, and passing is to occur on the left.  Don’t hang out in the passing lane if you aren’t actually passing anyone, otherwise you risk being rear-ended by someone faster.

  5. Leave the jingling for Santa
    If you must carry loose change and keys, make sure you put them in a place where they don’t jingle.  Perhaps only carry the one key that you need ie: ignition key.
  6. Water Stations (this may actually deserve it’s own post)
    Don’t go to the first table at the water stop. That’s where all the rookies stop and, if it’s a big race, it’s going to be very congested. Keep running to one of the tables farther down. If there are tables on both sides of the course and the water station is crowded, go to a table on the left side. Since most people are right-handed, the tables on the right tend to be much more popular.  Many races have garbage cans or boxes after the water stops. Try to toss your cup in there, if you can. It’s also fine to throw your cup on the ground — just make sure you don’t hit a spectator or another runner with it –  try to toss it where other runners can’t trip over it.

  7. Thank supporters and volunteers
    Acknowledge supporters who cheer for you as you pass them. If you’re too tired to say “thanks,” show them a smile, wave, or give them a thumbs up. It will make them feel good and encourage them to keep rooting for others. Don’t immediately stop at the finish line or in the chute. There will be runners coming in right behind you, so keep going until it ‘s safe to come to a stop.
  8. Keep moving at the finish
    Don’t immediately stop at the finish line or in the chute. There will be runners coming in right behind you, so keep going until it ‘s safe to come to a stop.

What are your pet peeves about rude or annoying behavior at races?  What advice do you have for runners?

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