I want to chat about race etiquette- the general do's and don'ts during any kind of running or walking event. You may be thinking, "Sarah, it can't get much simpler. Just start when they say go and then keep going until the finish line." And you'd be right- except that a lot of crazy and sometimes rude (usually not intentional) stuff happens in between the start and finish.
Race etiquette is important not only for maintaining a positive and fun atmosphere but also for runner/walker's safety. Anytime you have a large group of people in one place there is bound to be risk involved. But if we all follow a few simple rules of etiquette, a race can be an enjoyable event for all participants!
DO seed yourself appropriately.
If your race does not have starting corrals, line up according to pace: faster runners in the front, slower runners and walkers in the back. This sounds really easy, but I can't tell you how many times I've had to slow down my race pace considerably because it just wasn't safe: too many walkers/slower runners in a congested area mixed in among faster runners. Conversely, if you are super speedy, please don't line up in the middle or back of the pack and then try to zoom past slower runners- it's creates an unsafe race for everyone.
I always line up about 3/4 of the way back and I've never really had any issues with feeling like I'm too far forward or too far back. In a perfect world, here's how I think it would work for a 5k:
Most races have tables of water with eager volunteers handing out cups full to runners. In order to avoid a collision with others, grab a cup and keep moving! If you want to stop and walk to drink, please move to the opposite side of the water station so you don't impede other runners. I nearly ran into a woman last weekend when she came to a dead stop in front of the water station and waited for a volunteer to pour her a cup of water- even though there were several other volunteers handing out cups of water past the one she was waiting for.
Tip- don't try to get water from the first volunteer or table- they are usually mobbed. Run to the next table/volunteer- they will usually have plenty of water available without the crowd of runners trying to grab at them.
DO let other runners know if you are walking/stopping/slowing down.
I'm a Jeff Galloway-er. I run/walk/run at predetermined intervals. This means that I'm slowing down to a walk every 1-2 minutes. To let runners behind me know that I am slowing down, I simply raise my hand for a few seconds before and after I start to walk. That way I don't get run over :-) Also, if you need to walk, slow down, or stop, move to the side of the course- preferably the right side. This follows the basic rule; try not to impede other runners.
DON'T walk or run more than two abreast.
Matthew and I run a lot of races together. Sometimes I run with three or four people. But we always try to be no more that two across. And if we are running on a narrow course, we run single file. Again, you don't want to block the course with more than two people running or walking side-by-side.
DO keep moving through the finisher's chute.
Once you've crossed the finish line, keep moving. Again, there are going to be many runners coming in behind you and collisions are not fun. Grab your free banana, a water, and move to the side to get your finisher picture.
DO cheer for other runners.
Before, during, and after the race, don't forget to cheer for your fellow runners! You'd be surprised how easily you can make someone's day with just a little "looking good, runner!"
Following these simple tips can help ensure a fun-filled event for all participants. So, get out there and race with proper etiquette! :-)
QOTD: What else is on your race etiquette do's and don'ts list?