In the interest of promoting an enjoyable running and racing experience for everyone, I have compiled a short list of common rules to follow on race day to encourage good running etiquette. Whatever the pace, wherever the race, manners matter. The list may not be all inclusive, but should give you a good idea of what event managers like to see out of their registered runners.
* Early registration
Even though most events allow same day registration, it is always nice to pre-register when possible. This gives event managers a general idea of how many runners will be present. Event managers need this information for many reasons including: T-shirt orders, number of race bibs and/or timing chips needed, course design, number of finish line chutes needed, water supply, etc…
* Arrive early on race day
Why is this important? It allows you time to pick up your race packet, check for accuracy, and pin your bib onto your shirt or shorts. Generally, workers in charge of the registration table have other job duties awaiting after the registration process ends. If you arrive early enough, these workers can move to their next post without being in a rush.
* Pre race instructions
I can’t stress enough the importance of listening to pre race instructions. I have seen many occasions where runners are more concerned about dialing in their race day music, or gps tracking device and completing tune out race day instructions. All runners have a collective responsibility to keep the event safe. If you are not listening to the race instructions, you will miss important information that you need to know.
* Starting line
You don’t have to be in the front of the pack. If the event is chip timed, your time doesn’t start until you cross the mat anyway. So, what’s the rush? If the event isn’t chip timed, it generally only takes a few seconds to get everyone across the start line. Unless, you are trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, those few seconds probably won’t matter. The important thing to remember is you are running the race for a charitable cause. If you are running for your own personal benefit and to see who can beat who then you probably should find a different hobby. I’m all for awards being handed out for your running excellence, but not at the expense of congested start lines and shoving your way to the front. On the flip side, if you know you are a slower runner/walker then make sure you start near the back of the pack. It will make for a much smoother take off.
* Respect private property along your route
Do I really need to elaborate any further on this?
* Passing the runner in front of you
I always try to alert the runner in front of me that I am about to pass them. A simple “coming around you on the left” is plenty sufficient. The same in return, if you hear the runner behind you saying they are about to pass, move to the side and allow them to go by. It’s not showing off, it’s the runner behind you trying to give you a heads up that they’re coming around you. If they don’t respond by moving over, it may be that they didn’t hear you over the music in their ear phones. These things happen and move on. You should never attempt to block another runners effort at passing you!
* Making a pit stop
Occasionally nature calls. If you feel the need to vomit, spit, or take care of any other bodily functions, please move to the side of the road or trail that you are one when applicable. Often times, there are porta-johns along the course you can use and you may even find the occasional friendly neighbor willing to help you out. Again, remember to always respect other people’s property. Same thing applies if you need to tie your shoe. Please move to the side of the road so that you are not blocking the path for other runners.
* Never cheat!
I wish I didn’t have to put this on the list, but it’s an unfortunate reality sometimes. Don’t cut the course to get ahead of other runners. As previously stated, the race is about charity not your individual ego.
* Water station
When you come across a water station along your route, move to the side of the path and allow other runners to pass. Some runners do not find the need to hydrate themselves at each stop. Once you have completed hydration, throw your cup or bottle to the side of the path. Other runners do not want to run across your trash scattered across the path.
* Help those in distress
If you see someone on the path that is in distress, stop and help. Need I say more? Their health is far more important than when you finish the race.
* Finish line chute instructions
Follow the instructions from the volunteers working the finish line chutes. They are there to limit finish line congestion. Don’t shove someone out of your way in order to finish ahead of them. If you do this, you need to find another sport. Make sure your bib is readable as you pass through the shoot. Move all the way through the chute to the end to allow those that are finishing behind you enough clearance to get through. If the event is chip timed, be sure to return your chip to a volunteer. If the event is not chip timed, a volunteer will probably be there collecting pull tabs from your race bib.
* Encourage others
One thing I always like to do after completing a race is walk the course backwards a short ways and encourage other runners working their way to the finish line. A simple applause or words of encouragement will go a long way with fellow runners. If you see someone struggling, and you still have the energy, run along side of them to the finish line offering that same encouragement. Make sure you do not cross the finish line a second time, however, this will create confusion for the volunteers.
* Award ceremony
Nothing says you have to stick around after the race, but I always find it respectful to do so. I enjoy applauding those that finished at the top of the pack as they receive their awards. They deserve the attention. If you are an award winner, definitely stick around to receive the award. You deserve it! Quite often, I hear a name called for an award and that individual isn’t there to receive it. The event hosts paid for that award so it is courteous to be there to receive it. Be proud of your accomplishment! Not to mention, some events offer refreshments during the ceremony.
* Don’t argue with event hosts
If you feel you deserved an award but your name was not announced, don’t debate the award with the announcer. The announcer usually just reads the information given to them by the race timing officials. Find a race official and discuss the discrepancy with them in a respectful manner.
Remember most events are staffed by volunteers, no event is perfect, and people work hard to make them safe and enjoyable. If you follow the simple rules of etiquette mentioned here, it will be a positive experience for you and those around you. Most importantly, enjoy the race experience!