Racing Etiquette

I never seem to think about manners as it pertains to racing until the first few miles of a race.  Off days, practice runs, even group runs….the thought never crosses my mind.  It’s not until those first few miles of a race that I always think I need to write these rules down so that everyone knows what is appropriate and best for the racing field.  So here is my take on proper racing etiquette.

1. Don’t jump corrals.

Corrals are set up for a reason. They have a purpose. And you should be honest when submitting your anticipated finish time. By jumping corrals or putting a faster finish time than you can do; you are hurting those runners that worked hard to get into that corral. You will slow the race field down. The beginning of a race is crowded to begin with so it makes it more difficult to have to navigate around slower runners.

2. Don’t spit in the crowds.

Yes, I have felt spit on me on more than one occasion.  Despite what you think of your accuracy, there is always a wind or crowd factor. If you need to spit, move to the edge and spit on sidewalk and ensure no one else is coming up next to you.

3. Watch the elbows.

Why people run with really wide elbows I’ll never know. But they do. In that case, be cautious of the people around you. Don’t try to pass a herd of tightly packed runners with wide elbows. Yeah, it hurts to get hit in the chest with your bony elbow.

4. Breakup the wolf pack.

I respect groups of runners staying together to accomplish one group goal in races. But that doesn’t mean you need to line up 8 across in the middle of the pack making it almost impossible for runners to pass.  If you run in a group, spread out a little to allow runners to inch their way past if they need to. You can always run in rows as well.

5. Know your position.

In driving, faster drivers pass on the right while slower drivers stay to the right.  During races, its all one lane moving forward.  The slower runners should stay to the outside lanes while the faster runners are in the inside. If you need to stop and walk, step off to the side so the runner behind you doesn’t have an abrupt stop as well.

6. Watch your water stops.

I could write 5 rules just on this topic alone. Water stop rules are different for different races and for different paces. As a general rule, if you are going to stop for water at a stop, move towards that side of the lane way ahead of time….let’s say as soon as you see the water table.  Those not stopping for water will move to the opposite side where there are no water tables to keep pace. (If there are tables on both sides, faster runners should stay in the middle.)  I personally need to stop and drink my water because I can’t seem to get the hand mouth coordination thing down (been working on that for 18 years now).  Because I know I’ll walk through the water stop, I get over as far as I can as to not disrupt the talented runners that can drink and run at the same time.

7. Respect the non-talkers.

We’ve all had that race where you get stuck pacing next to a chatty Cathys. Endorphins are running high and she/he just wants to chat the entire race….about the weather, about his training, about his big meal post race, about his kids college fund.  While other talkers may like the distraction, there are those runners that prefer to focus on their run and be with their own thoughts. If you talk and someone politely brushes you off; take the hint and find another Cathy along the way.

8. Discard trash.

This goes with rule #2 and #6.  A lot of runners carry fuel with them in the form of gels, blocks, bars, even gummy bears. These are all in some sort of packing (I hope, or else those are some sweaty gummy bears).  What you do with that trash after you’re done devouring your race snack can impact the runner right behind you or a half mile behind you.  I’ve seen many runners slip on an empty gel or an empty energy bean wrapper.  They’re made of plastic and especially in the rain can cause risks to other runners. So, try your best to throw your trash, empty water cups, and spit to the far side of the lane. Fellow runners will thank you.

If every runner followed these rules I would probably dance through the first 5 miles of my next race. It can get frustrating to deal with improper etiquette in a race when you have so many other things on your mind. But then again, maybe its a good distraction to think of your own rules at your next race.

Share any additional rules you’d like to add to my list.

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