Rules of race day

Jamoosh and I seem to be inspiring each other for post content of late (although he is much wittier than I. Drinks more beer too). Today he posted his Houston 1/2 report and it included a bit of  unhappiness about a large wall of walker/runners at the front of the pack, making it difficult for him to get out there and settle into a running pace. I totally feel for this most annoying situation.

etiquette 0021 150x150 Rules of race day

What would your rules be?

This is one of my pet peeves about the ginormous race fields that are becoming the norm these days. On the one hand, I love anything that gets people off the couch and out there participating in events. On the other hand, there needs to be a little bit of racing etiquette education conducted for those new to the field. A pamphlet on the topic, stuffed into race bags, if you will. When “they” ask me to put this pamphlet together, here’s what it will look like:

  • Seed yourself accordingly–Even if you want a good shot at a PR, if you can’t run with the lead pack, do NOT line up at the front. If you’re going to be walking, fine, but move to the back of the pack at the start line. It’s not only hard for faster runners to get around you, but potentially dangerous as they swerve and maneuver around you.
  • If you’re going to walk the fluid stations, fine. But grab your cup and then move over. All the way over. Do not stop dead to grab your water, disrupting the race of those behind you.
  • The same goes for walking breaks, puke breaks,cramp breaks, tying shoe breaks. Do not stop dead in the middle of the course! Move over and out of the way.
  • Run through the chute. Don’t stop, lean over, etc. Keep moving so that others can too.
  • Don’t whine about the course being long because your Garmin says it is. If it’s a certified course, it’s pretty accurate. Your Garmin isn’t necessarily so accurate. Leave the race directors alone on this–they have bigger things on their plates.

Wow, I feel better for getting that off my chest. Is this what it feels like for Jeff Irvin, king of the ranting posts?

I know my readers know better than to commit the race-day sins listed above. What would you add to this list?

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  1. OMG, this is all so freakin’ awesome!! Just talking with a friend this morning about the R’nR races… they are so congested (with new runners) that I’m now a little gun-shy to enter them. I’m not a pro runner, but when I race, I’m out there to achieve the best time possible… so it annoys the crap out of me when people are chatting away and not paying attention to people around them. This is a RACE, not a jog around your neighborhood.
    Run with Jess recently posted..Best Birthday Ever!My Profile

  2. A most excellent post!

    I would add “maintain” your line. Too many runners “drift” randomly, making it harder to get around.
    Jamoosh recently posted..Race Report–Houston HalfMy Profile

  3. This is for the spectator’s or joe shmoe’s.
    Hey see all those blocked off streets? Yup, those barricades are there for a reason. See all those people running down the street? Yup the one’s with pieces of paper on their chests with numbers on them? Yup those are called race bibs. All these people with those on are participating in a race. SO if you see them running in the street the best advice I can give you is to NOT run across the course because you “omg have to get to the f’ing starbucks on the other side of the street.” You might very well encounter someone who is having a great race and doesn’t want to have push you out of the way when you casually walk out in the street thinking if they see me they’ll stop. No really save yourself from someone’s profanity laced comments.
    Michel recently posted..I’m here… no really I am…My Profile

  4. Love it. One of our runners recently wrote about the same things after ARMY, calling them Corral Cheaters. Especially, with all the wounded runners in that race, I think it can be very dangerous! If you can’t make the cut off time, then it isn’t your race to run.

    Good Post!
    Dash recently posted..Goodbye Mr. PumpkinMy Profile

  5. Valid points. I have had the same issues at smaller races where allegedly “you should expect newbies who don’t know what they are doing.” I find it interesting this is going on at larger races as well. So pretty much I can’t avoid it if I tried!

    I agree on the water stops. Usually my biggest issue because you already know it’s going to be a cluster – please don’t make it worse!

    Maybe if we all thought of other runners, instead of ourselves, the race would go a lot better for everyone.
    Holly recently posted..Race Recap: Bay Village Heritage 5K (2011)My Profile

  6. The walkers during my last race just about killed me!

    WALLS of walkers 5-8 people across all strolling and chatting. I was like, “are you kidding!?”

    I’m with you and happy that they are strolling rather than sitting on a couch someplace but this was so annoying for the first half mile or so.

    My last half was in Atlantic City and ended on the boardwalk. So there were actually quite a few smokers I had to run past. WELL that was fun. :)

    • I ran the AC Half too, and ran past a few smokers, even a cigar smoker at one point! I liked the race though and didn’t have any problems with walkers at all :)

  7. This is the BEST! I so wish they handed flyers out in race packets!! I was in a race the other day (mind you it was a 5k, but still), I knew I could place, so I was up front. There was a couple standing at the very front wearing khaki pants, so I knew they weren’t running. Right before the start, the woman turned to me and goes “are you running this?” Mind you, it wasn’t a run/walk, it was a run. I said yes and all of the people around me were like “um, yes, it’s a run.” To which she replied, “Oh, maybe we should move back.” They would have been trampled!

    During a half marathon, my husband was a half mile in when the guy in front of him stopped dead to walk. Mike almost ran him down.

    AH! I”m all fired up!
    kari @ Running Ricig recently posted..Bake Sale PreviewMy Profile

  8. Oh man don’t even get me started! I hate going through water stops only because people stop! I really get annoyed when people stop at the water stops for 5k races. Ok maybe they are thirsty but they can’t wait another 15 minutes to finish the race and get some water!
    And I hate when people complain about the course being long! Your gamin is not the sole race distance monitoring device! Don’t you think they checked the race distance! Maybe you should learn to run the tangents better!
    Ok im all worked up now. Guess I should go back to work.
    J recently posted..How about a little mud?My Profile

  9. i 100% agree!

    i also hate when people shed their warm-up clothing and then throw it right beside them in the middle of the race route. it’s a huge tripping hazard to everyone behind them. move over to the side and shed your clothing there! jeez!

  10. I think this is something that should be plastered all over race websites and even signs on the course. I wonder if people are just newbies and clueless?! There is nothing worse than hitting a wall of walkers (or very slow runners) who are clearly in the wrong place.

    I put myself in a race corral at my recent marathon for a 3:20-3:35 finish. I knew my best case pace was at the fast end of that spectrum, but I did fall within that range. So explain to me how I was weaving around people running a MAYBE 10-minute mile pace for the first mile +??? Why do people want to get trampled?!

    The Garmin thing really gets my goat, too!
    marlene recently posted..Tuesday Shout-OutsMy Profile

  11. I agree with this post 100% too (and the Garmin thing cracks me up–my Garmin is *always* longer–makes me wonder if my long training runs are short or if it’s just a tangents issue in races–either way, I know it’s me and not the race).

    Perhaps for another post: what’s your advice on how slightly (but not much) above average runners with goals should position ourselves? I don’t like dodging walkers either, but in the past I’ve been so worried about being too slow for the truly competitive people that I’ve lined up too far back and lost time in that first mile (or more). In races that don’t have pace groups, it’s really hard to find that sweet spot at the start line.
    Terzah recently posted..InsomniaMy Profile

  12. all so very true! I think people who don’t do a lot of races genuinely have no idea. Maybe some kind of guideline as to what time would be considered “fast” for the front of the queue, mid pack range and then back of the pack. I would also add this for the ones out there who like to spit on the course. “Look before you spit”. I can’t tell you how many near misses I have had with people spitting on the course. ICK!

  13. Well Done Amanda! Well done INDEED!

    This should seriously be printed out by all Race Directors and placed in all race packets. It should also be printed on large poster boards and placed all over the starting area of each and every race.

    Heck, lets even hire the Boy and Girls Scouts and have them hand out this on a flyer to racers as they are walking from the parking area. If said racer is wearing the race shirt for this years event then they should be handed two or possibly three flyers!

    If you felt good after hitting the “submit post” button then that is how I usually feel.

    Deep inhale …. Deep exhale.
    Jeff recently posted..10 For Texas Race ReportMy Profile

  14. I

    Puke breaks….what about poop breaks?!

  15. I think the catch-all rule is “don’t be selfish.” But as my grandma always said about driving, “Act as if everyone else is insane.” Cheers!
    Viper recently posted..Many Happy ReturnsMy Profile

  16. The RRCA has a great pamphlet on Race Etiquette and I know that our running club’s programs for beginners adress these concerns. However, the issue with self-seeding seems to be getting worse and worse. I’ve been at several large 5K’s this year where race officials have announced that, unless you plan on winning an award, you shouldn’t be in the first few rows and had people near me actually laugh. I’ve overheard, “yeah, maybe if I was 80 years old, but I’m not moving back”, etc.They don’t realize how they are impacting the rest of us, or maybe they just don’t care.

  17. Excellent post. I think every runner has run into these problems.

  18. So agree with this, as well as with all the other commenters. One of the things my assistant and I teach our clients (mostly new runners running their first race) is race etiquette. Wish more people knew it…
    MCM Mama recently posted..Too close for comfortMy Profile

  19. YES. I’ve always said the rules, especially about lining up, should be on the back of the bib! The reality is, many new runners and walkers just don’t know. Someone has to tell us!
    My #1 pet peeve is walkers who line up towards the front. So dangerous for those really speedy folks and kind of a pain for middle of the pack runners like me. If mynGarmin reads a long course, it is because I did so much weaving!
    That Pink Girl recently posted..Pumpkin Patch DaysMy Profile

  20. What about the people who randomly stop to take pictures along the race. Same rule as walking, if you are taking a picture move to the side please> :)

  21. I love animals. I love my dog dearly. But don’t bring your freakin dogs to the race! And if you are a spectator, keep them off the course.

    I had a close call this weekend at the Xterra 10K – a lady had parked herself (ostensibly to root for someone who was running the 10K) in a very dangerous place with her two skittish dogs.

    It was a single track path, drop into a ravine on one side, steep grade on the other. She was trying to cram herself and her dogs up onto the grade to stay out of the way. As I ran by I said, “Not a good idea.” The lady behind me tripped – heard swearing – but I think she had a good save.

    Dogs, leashes and unaware owners – please leave your darlings at home.
    Di-Tri-ing recently posted..The Great Coconut Milk ExperimentMy Profile

  22. Amen to that!
    Walkers and strollers EVEN if you run with your stroller…start at the back.

    I would add that if you look like the guy in the last picture of my most recent post you MUST wear a shirt.
    caroline recently posted..Race for Rescues 10k race recapMy Profile

  23. Couldn’t agree more! I love running because there’s room for everyone – BUT people need to use some common sense.
    Lisa recently posted..Now THAT’s a medalMy Profile

  24. If you have little kids racing, run with them. They are really spooky as you have no idea when they will stop or what they will do. And I have seen more than one little kid running along sobbing with no parent in sight.

  25. Amen to those! That and No. Sandbagging. allowed.

  26. Hear hear!!
    Leah @ Chasing Atalanta recently posted..The Tale of a DressMy Profile

  27. Do not run 4+ abreast with your friends, it makes one that needs to get around you want to commit a murder!
    Jill recently posted..Weeks 7 and 8 in the numbersMy Profile

  28. I would definitely agree on the walkers bit. It makes me soooo mad to have to dodge and weave around walkers or when someone stops dead in front of me. In fact, I lectured my mom on it because she planned on walking most of her first 5K, but started closer to the start with my boyfriend. She at least stayed off to the side like I told her too.
    Stephanie Anne recently posted..Couch Potato to MarathonerMy Profile

  29. Love the rules and they should add them. I think a lot of people just don’t know or understand racing etiquette. A reminder before the race would be good for everyone!
    Katie recently posted..Versatile BloggerMy Profile

  30. LOLing at Caroline and breathing a sigh of relief that I’m not guilty of any of these race-day sins. :)
    Kate recently posted..Since I saw you last…My Profile

  31. Like the new blog!

    One thing is a total pet peeve: running with headphones. People with headphones just do not perceive the pack around them. My most serious race day incidents and spills have come as a direct result of headphone types.

    And the thing about proper race start. It is dangerous for the fast and slower runner. There will always be people in front of you and behind you, so start where you can fit in with the flow.

  32. It’s a problem the world over…

    Here in Cape Town there are plenty of people who should just got out of the way…

    better not say anymore.
    Coach Dion recently posted..TRAINING, a few pointersMy Profile

  33. Don’t keep your music so loud that you can’t hear people trying to get around you!
    Abby @ Have Dental Floss, WIll Travel recently posted..The Comeback RunMy Profile

  34. The key is to turn up your iPod and act like everyone else is just there to waste their time walking too! Or move out of the way….

  35. I get running with a friend, but it drives me nuts when people run four across, and you can’t get around them. sooooo annoying!!!
    Molly recently posted..WW: Luke’s First NYC MarathonMy Profile

  36. It appears I’m pretty good at the race day rules. Since I’m a slow runner who needs walk breaks, I always start in the back and always stay on the right so the faster people can pass me easily.

    I want to add something for the spectators. There’s nothing I hate more than when you do a 10 miler for example, people screaming “you’re almost there” after you ran half a mile. My personal pet peeve.
    Fran recently posted..Monday October 24, 2011: The mishmash editionMy Profile

  37. I love this post but I’d add that if you are going to blow snot rockets or hork…also pull over and do it at the side….especially if you are running into the wind and there’s someone (like me) behind you! Just rude!! I also find it frustrating when people walk with their friends width wise (as mentioned above) and take up the whole course. Especially in the latter part of a marathon when you don’t have the strength to maneuver around them….
    Robin Brunet recently posted..Rest is OverMy Profile

  38. The official law handed down from the King of the Pukies is dont puke on the course, go off to the side and do it in the grass

    I know my place, I am smart enough to know my level, another one to add, if your slow, stay to the far right and let everyone be able to pass you on the left. When hitting the water station, if your slow, take a quick peek over your shoulder to make sure no one is running up on you and then get your water and get out of the way
    BDD recently posted..What Cyclists Say and What They MeanMy Profile

  39. Great Post. I know Im not the fastest, so I always start at the rear. This does 2 things for me. 1 – I don’t have the temptation to start out too fast, and 2 – I have fun passing everybody later in the course. I make it fun. But yeah, I think overall common sense should dictate, but then again………….
    Kenley recently posted..2 Week Training ProgramMy Profile

  40. Back of the packer, I always stay at the back, it makes me feel better to slowly jog past the walkers.. ;-) at least I’m passing someone. Great tips, I’ll likely be linking this post at some point.

  41. This is spot on. I’m guilty of so many of these at some time in my racing experiences. You should do a post on rules for running on the neighborhood roads and more importantly, rules for the non-runner who we run by. :) . 1. smile and wave when a runner smiles and waves at you..only polite. 2. Share the sidewalk…don’t expect the runner to go off the road/sidewalk for you and your dog or partner…come on people. I’m sure you could think of more.

  42. People that talk about their Garmin being right drive me nuts. Your tiny piece of technology is not more correct than the earth! The course is correct, sheesh.
    katie recently posted..wordless wednesdayMy Profile

  43. I feel like you may be preaching to the choir. How do you get this info to the non-fitness bloggers?!?!

    But thanks for the Garmin PSA. It drives me nuts every time someone writes that the course was long, or records their “garmin pace” rather than actual race pace. The earth isn’t wrong, your tiny little watch miscommunicated with the satellites miles away in outer space!
    Beth recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: I’m An AdultMy Profile

  44. Word.
    The Green Girl recently posted..The Green Girl’s Long Beach Marathon Race ReportMy Profile

  45. I have to agree with your rules!!!!!!!!

  46. “Don’t whine about the course being long because your Garmin says it is. If it’s a certified course, it’s pretty accurate. Your Garmin isn’t necessarily so accurate. Leave the race directors alone on this–they have bigger things on their plates.”

    I love this one. People with Garmins think they’re SOO accurate, but these people don’t account for weaving through people, etc.
    Kim recently posted..Saint George’s Dragon Run 5K 2011My Profile

  47. YES, YES, YES! I am all for walk breaks…but get out of the way. Also at aid stations…take a look before you chuck your water/gatorade cup…neither a fellow runner or volunteers wants it all over them.
    Laura recently posted..The Veggie Chronicles Part 2 – What I’m Eating and How I Gave Myself a Fat LipMy Profile

  48. I’d add the apporopriate response when you hear a runner behind you say, Left is to move right NOT Left!

    And I’d add for trail races, don’t run 3 across.
    shelly recently posted..Tough Mudder VA – A Real Pain in the…My Profile

  49. HA HA HA!!!!! We now have the asshat list for runners… it.

    These are perfect but I will also include in the bag this rule:

    If you don’t know how to program your Garmin/Timex/Polaris/Solar then don’t turn it on. All the beeping drives all those around you crazy.

    If you want to run in a certain HR zone then do so and don’t run faster than that because your watch is going to beep incessantly and piss people off.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Offseason? Is that what I’m In?My Profile

  50. lol seriously you and Jamoosh have some of the best posts out there – always thought provoking!

    This list is indeed dead on! And yea my favorite Dangle the Carrot posts are the rant ones, hilarious stuff!

    Generally I do a good job of not doing any of the things listed above, I’d say my #1 pet peeve is people lining up too far forward at a race. Hopefully people try to follow the pacing guidelines.

    And that is awesome that you met Ian Adamson, he is great! I still haven’t tried on Newton’s, hopefully I’ll make it back to the store to give them a whirl.
    Nelly recently posted..Reno or BustMy Profile

  51. I like Viper’s comment “don’t be selfish”
    but one specific item I’d add is:

    If you must spit, move off to the side and spit off the course.
    Spitting on your neighbor is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

    (and yes, this has happened to me. *shudder*)
    Beth (i run like a girl) recently posted..Thursday thanksMy Profile

  52. YEAH. Good list.

    The walkers who seem to walk in a team of 5-6 that you can’t get by are so annoying. I have no problem AT ALL with walking, just don’t seed yourself in front of me in an impenetrable line. Geez.

    SPEAKING of water stations. I have another one. Don’t stand there an talk when there are 10,000 other people trying to get the same 3 cups of water. Thank you. :)

    Oh. And run freaking straight. Please. When I pass you I hate to cause a collision.

    I think I am done now. Good topic!

  53. I’m a few days late in reading this, but I agree that there should be a flier of this type in all goody bags.
    I’m not fast, but I try to be considerate of others. If I’m doing a run/walk pace, I always look behind me and move to the side before walking. Same thing at the fluid stations. I am not talented enough to run and drink at the same time! So, I make sure I’m not in anyone’s direct path when I take my water.

  54. Great post. Hate it when it is barely 1 mile into the race and there are people walking abreast and take the entire path. The best thing I have heard was, “I have just as much right because I paid for the run.” Really? WOW!!! That made me fummed!

    I don’t know why it is so difficult for people to be aware of their surroundings and to realized that they aren’t the ONLY one out there. I walked sometimes during my race but am always careful and would get to the side and not get in the way. If I sense someone else coming behind me, I would actually move to the back of the guy in front of me so the one coming up behind me wouldn’t have to dodge and weave through 2 people.

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