Regardless of the size or importance of a particular race, safety and manners matter. Whether you are training in a heavily congested area, racing a small local road race, or a big city marathon these rules should be followed.
General Rules for Running in an Event
- Follow the rules of the race outlined on the race entry form! All runners have a collective responsibility to keep the event safe. Races generally discourage running with dogs, headphones, cell phones, and jogging strollers.
- Pre-register even if same day registration is offered. This will help ease the registration process for everyone involved.
- Arrive early for the event, especially if you are picking up your number on race day. Check your registration information carefully, especially if you are racing with a club, for an award, or prize money.
- Use the facilities before the race start to lessen the need once on course, and help keep the facilities clean for the person in line after you. Plan to do this well in advance, as the lines get longer the closer it gets to race start. Also facities near the race corrals are usually the longest.
- Pin your race number on the front of your shirt/shorts. This is where it is most visible for photographers and race officials. Using a race belt is a great option if you don't want holes in your clothing. The key is to have your number on your front.
- Line up according to how fast you plan to run or walk the event. Slower runners and walkers should move to the back of the race pack. Just because you arrived early does not mean you should be at the front of the starting line.
- Pay attention to the pre-race instructions. This is not the time to be blaring your favorite song on your personal music device, which really should be locked in your car or at home.
Race Etiquette on Course
- If you drop something as the race starts, don’t stop and pick it up! Wait until almost everyone has crossed the starting line then retrieve it.
- Don’t drop clothing on the course after you warm-up. If you must shed layers of clothing, tie them around your waist or place them on the side of the road where no one will trip over them. If you drop it; don’t expect to get it back.
- Run or walk no more than two abreast.
- Do not block runners coming up behind you by swerving needlessly back and forth across the course.
- If you are walking in a group, stay to the back of the pack and follow the two abreast rule.
- Bodily functions are a fact of life during a race. If you need to spit, blow your nose or throw-up, move to the side of the road and do it there. If nature calls, check for a port-a-potty, an open business, a kind neighbor along the course, or as a last resort, a discreet clump of bushes before relieving yourself. Again, follow the rules from the race entry form. In some races you will be disqualified if you relieve yourself anywhere other than a port-a-potty.
- Move to the side if someone behind you says, “Excuse me” or “on your right/left”. The person behind you is giving you a heads up before passing. It’s proper race etiquette to let that person pass you without blocking their effort.
- If someone in front of you is wearing headphones, and they are blocking, gently touch their elbow or shoulder as you pass to alert them to your presence.
- If you need to tie your shoe or stop for any reason (phone call, nose blow, etc) move to the side of the road and step off the course.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. The course may or may not be closed to traffic. It is your responsibility to watch for oncoming traffic!
- Yield the right of way to all police and emergency vehicles. Yield the course to wheel chair athletes, you can change direction or stop more quickly then they can, especially on a downhill.
- Don’t cheat! Don’t cut the course or run with someone else’s number.
- Enjoy your race!
Aid Station Etiquette
- When approaching an aid station to hydrate or re-fuel, move in and grab your fluid/nutritional needs from the volunteers or the aid tables then continue forward away from the volunteers or aid table. Do not stop in front of the tables.
- If you need to stop at an aid station step to the side of the road and proceed to the aid station, but do not block others from accessing the aid tables or volunteers handing out fluids.
- Throw your used cup to the far right or left side away from the course and as close to an aid station as possible.
- Say thank you to the volunteers manning the aid station!
- If you see someone in distress on the course, report their number to the aid station and try to recall the approximate mile maker where you saw them.
Finish Line Etiquette
- If you neglected to leave your personal music device at home, now would be the most important time to remove your headphones.
- Follow the instructions of the race officials at the finish.
- If a friend or family member is running the last stretch with you and isn’t in the race, he/she should move off the course before the finish chute starts.
- Once you have crossed the finish line, keep moving forward until the end of the finish chute. If the event is not electronically timed, stay in finishing order so the finish line volunteers can remove the pull tags from your number for scoring.
- If the event is electronically timed, be sure to return the timing tag/chip before leaving the finishers chute.
- Exit the chute and wait for friends or family in a central location.
- Enjoy the post-race refreshments, but remember it is not an all you can eat buffet for you and your family.
- Stay around for the awards ceremony to cheer on the overall winners along with the age group winners. Running is one of the few sports where the participants get to mingle closely with the event winners.
- Be proud of your accomplishment!
Remember no event is perfect and people work hard to make them safe and enjoyable. Primarily volunteers staff most events, but there is always a race director or race committee that is responsible for an event. If you have ideas for improving an event or concerns you would like to address, share them with the race director or race committee in a positive and productive manner.