Race Etiquette, unless you don’t want any friends…

This morning I ran a very easy 4 miles around the neighborhood. That makes a total of 6 for the week. They felt like 60. Sometimes, it’s a little overwhelming after taking a few days off and especially if it’s due to illness but you just have to press on and not beat yourself up and that’s what I’m doing. I’ve got a 15k coming up in a few weeks and then several halves and maybe a full within just a few weeks of each other. I need to be sure that I’m healthy so that I don’t have to pull out of any of them. It’s just going to take me a little time to get back to where I was…


I was thinking about the races I have coming up when I was running this morning and instantly I started to think about runners’ etiquette. It’s amazing how after years of running, I can still remember races or instances during races where someone has failed to follow the rules, unspoken or not.

Whether you’re new to racing or you’ve run 100 races these are some of the things you should be aware of…unless you want other runners to hate you and in that case, don’t bother.

At the start of a race, if there are corrals or pacers with clearly marked signs, such as 7 min., 8 min., 9 min., etc. be sure to line up in the appropriate area. If you’ve never run a 7 minute mile, don’t line up in 7 minute coral. In my last 5K, I lined up in between the 8 and 9 minute mile pacers because my average pace in the 5K is 8 and a half minutes and I still had to pass around 200 people.

Please listen carefully to the announcements before the race. If not, you may miss something very important, like where you’re supposed to turn around; and most runners don’t like to talk during races and get a little annoyed if you’re asking them questions you should know the answer to, if only you’d listened.

If you slow down or start walking, mover over to the right so that those people behind you can pass. If you stop, by all means move to the side. During another 5K that I ran a few years ago, several runners, including myself, came flying around a corner and tumbled over a woman who had stopped in the middle of the course to tie her shoe.

If you’re running with a group, please don’t crowd the course by running side by side. Two people side by side is generally okay but when you have 5 or 6 people running side by side on a smaller course, it can cause some problems.

When you stop for water, ease up to the water stop gradually, carefully take your drink and continue on. And this is the most important thing, after you finish your drink, throw it in the garbage or carefully drop it to the side of the road. Please don’t throw it behind you especially without looking, you might hit someone. And speaking of water, if you start the race with a water bottle in your hand and you finish it, don’t throw it down in front of other runners, you could very easily trip them. Carefully throw it to the side of the road preferably at or near a water stop.

If you’re wearing throw away clothes, make sure you throw them to the side as well. Just remember to look behind you. I can assure you that the other runners do not want to be pelted with your cups or clothes.

When you cross the finish line, keep moving, there are still other runners behind you and they need to cross as well.

Be mindful of all those who haven’t finished yet and may be starving. It’s an after race meal and not usually an all you can eat buffet. It’s also not polite to bring your family and friends food when there are still hungry runners waiting to eat.

Rude Runners

Lastly, please remember that most of the people working at these events are volunteers and they deserve to be treated with kindness at the very least.

And lastly, when you’re putting together your race calendar for the year, consider volunteering for just one race. Not only will it give you a chance to see the race from a different perspective but you’ll be able to cheer for other runners as well.

Did I miss anything? If I did, feel free to add it in the comments?

10 thoughts on “Race Etiquette, unless you don’t want any friends…

    • That card is great isn’t it? I never thought about the cups until this year when a girl running very close to me got drenched by the guy in front who grabbed 2 cups, drank one, decided he didn’t want the second and just tossed it behind him. I can still see her stunned face and I felt so bad for her.

  1. The start line corral thing is SO annoying…I try to line up where I belong, but last weekend no one else did, and it cost me a sub-25 5K…I spent a full quarter mile just going around people who lined up at the very front and then WALKED!

    • I would like to give people that line up incorrectly the benefit of the doubt but I’m not sure if it’s that they are new to racing or they’re just rude. When I first started racing I figured it out pretty quickly, you’d think they would too…

  2. Most of what you have here seems to happen in every race and is also pet peevish. The Corral issues you will have at all races, mostly because people sign up then this crazy thing called life happens. Your last 5K you may have been fast then you slowed due to injury or illness but your mind did not want to let it go. I do understand the problem with having to pass people running and talking 5 across and a couple deep. That is something that drives me nuts too.
    You did not mention a couple of things.
    1. at the beginning of big races it is crowded, you need to be aware of those around you. This stops a lot of bottle necking. I have had to come to almost complete stops on a few occasions during races.
    2. If you have run behind someone almost the entire race, when you come to the shoot to finish do not pass now. Finish where you are. If you wanted to be faster you should have done it the entire race.

  3. Heh…..The corral thing happens to me in just about every race I run. There’s particular set of races where I’ve never placed lower than 3rd, so I used to always line up basically right at the front. Inevitably 50 women would go blazing past me & I’d spend the next few miles passing them. I’m not even kidding that I’ve started lining up about a minute behind my actual pace because it’s so annoying.

    Also, don’t try to start up a conversation with people you don’t know unless they actually look like they’re in distress!! We’re busy here!!

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