First-time Marathoner Explains it All: Race Etiquette

Race etiquette isn’t usually mentioned at local races, so how can we possibly expect new runners to know that raising your hand prior to slowing down isn’t a request for a high-five? Learning proper race etiquette not only helps your race go more smoothly, it can also help keep you and other runners safe from potential injuries. Read on for five tips to enhance your race etiquette.

1. Think of the highway when on the course

We all hate those people who only drive 10 over the speed limit in the left (fast) lane of the highway. During your race, think of the course as a highway. The left side is for speeding and passing. The middle is for keeping a moderate pace. The right is to walk and pull over to take care of any untied laces or issues. Of course, not every race will have corrals and not every race with corrals will be totally accurate in pace placement.

2. Slowing down? Raise your hand!

There will be races where you may need to walk – or slow down for the water/drink stops or to refuel. Don’t just slow down to walk or – God forbid – stop altogether. Back to driving – would you randomly slam on your breaks in the middle of the highway to check your tires without pulling over? (We all know 25% – at best – of drivers use their blinkers, so I won’t touch that). No. You wouldn’t. Don’t do it during a race. Instead, raise your hand, look over your shoulder to make sure you won’t cut off other runners or cause an accident, and move over to the right (slower lane) to safely slow down to a walk. Also, please move off the course to kneel to tie your shoes – most of us are not trained in hurdles.

3. Speeding up? Let us know!

Same goes for speeding up during your race. If you’re picking up the pace because your legs are feeling solid, way to start out right for a bangin’ race! Just please try to refrain from weaving between other runners. While many races tend to have clumps of groups who prefer to stick together and others who may not know the “rules of the road”, be careful when passing. Some may be sticking to walk/run/walk intervals, so they may either start running or walking without warning. I am guilty of weaving at times for two reasons: 1) I did not have a proof of time (POT) and therefor started in the last corrals for many races, so I had to weave around groups of walkers and other first-timers unaware of race etiquette; 2) there were too many walking on the left side, making the middle the only place to pass. But always, when preparing to pass, let others know by saying either, “On your left;” “Excuse me;” or something to that extent.

4. Photo Opportunities

While the runDisney races tend to turn some of the course into runways, more local races tend to keep the photo opportunities tied to the start and finish lines. Regardless of where you spot a photographer, try to keep other racers in mind. Please don’t push, shove, jump in front of, or weave between other runners to get that one jumping photo you may regret later (hello, knees and ankles!). Try to keep your poses contained – a wave, cheesy finger guns, devil horns, tongue-out, or goofy faces are what I’m talking about. If you’ve evaded the course congestion, by all means, go for that jump or outlandish pose. You go, Glenn Coco.

5. Be polite to all

Be polite to your fellow athletes and volunteers. Every participant is there for their own reason – and everyone is at their own level in their fitness/running journey. Whether athletes are running a 16 minute mile or a 6 minute mile, it’s still a mile and we’re all moving forward. Keep in mind, too, that the volunteers handing out water and your medal could have slept in that morning, but they chose to help make the race run more smoothly. Thank them when you have a chance, whether you’re running through the hydration stations, reaching for that cup of water, or accepting your medal. This goes for the volunteers directing runners on the course, handing out packets – anything.

Did you know about these five race etiquette guidelines? Which do you think is the most followed? Which do you see are often broken or ignored? Let me know in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: