Race-Day Etiquette: Ten Ways To Be Nice

26 Oct

So you’ve been training for weeks, and the day is finally here. You are excited, you are ready to go, and you can already feel the weight of the finisher’s medal around your neck. The start-line energy is so intense that you’re practically levitating. As the crowd of runners surges forward and crosses the start-line, your focus turns inward as you concentrate on your game plan for this race.

As much as you’re focusing on your own race, it doesn’t hurt to spare a thought for the people around you. Here are some points of race-day etiquette that are worth passing along. They are listed in no particular order.

  1. Bandits begone! If you did not pay for the privilege of taking part in the race, graciously step to the side and get off the course. Run the route later. And definitely, definitely do not cross the finish line.
  2. Many races these days feature personalized race bibs that allow complete strangers to cheer for you by name. If a spectator takes the time to call out your name in encouragement, give them some acknowledgement: a thumbs-up, a smile, a wave – something.
  3. If you are, like me, a tens-and-ones runner, give other runners a heads-up that you’re about to take your walking break. Move to the right side of the course and raise a hand to indicate that you are slowing down.
  4. If you are a faster runner approaching from behind, an “Excuse me!” or “Coming through!” called out to the slower runners will alert them to your presence.
  5. Corollary to #4: if you are a slower runner and you hear the words “Excuse me!” or “Coming through!” coming from behind, move over so that the faster runner has room to pass safely.
  6. Porta-potty lineups should stay off the course, or if that’s not possible, as close to the side of the road as you can get. Runners should not have to trip over people who are waiting to take their bio-breaks.
  7. You know how you grab a cup of water at the water station and drink half of it before tossing the rest? Look before you toss, otherwise the runner coming up behind you might get drenched.
  8. While we’re on the subject of water stations, please remember to thank the volunteer who hands you your cup. Yes, you are tired. Yes, you have been running for two hours straight and your legs are turning to mush. But none of this could happen without the people who stand there for hours on end making sure you don’t get dehydrated. A small thank you goes a long way, and might even encourage the volunteer to help out in future events.
  9. If you see a runner in need of assistance, help them out. Whether it’s in the form of offering them a word of encouragement as they’re flagging towards the end of a race, or picking up something that you have seen them drop, it can make a big difference to their day, as well as making you feel great about yourself.
  10. When you cross the finish line, keep moving. Move as far down the finish line chute as you can. The runners coming in behind you are trying to get the best times they can – don’t make them slow down before crossing the line.

Runners? Any more tips to add to the list? Feel free to add them in the Comments section!

(Photo credit to the author.)

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