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Don’t Do These Things At Your First Race

If you're new to racing, follow these tips to make race day more enjoyable for everyone.

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I love the fall. The temperatures cool off, there is a crispness in the air and it’s prime racing season. With so many races happening this fall, there are inevitably folks who are pinning bib numbers on for the first time (or the first time in a long time). I thought I’d share a few things NOT to do while racing. I’ve had personal experience with each and every one of these things (either I’ve done it or experienced someone else do it) so this is tried and true advice.

Don’t: Start way up front if you are planning on walking the race.
In many races you are assigned a corral that helps tell you where to position yourself at the start line. However, some races use the honor system, where you simply place yourself where you feel is appropriate. I have observed folks who have positioned themselves right up front walk within the first quarter mile. Walking is completely okay in races. However, it is DANGEROUS (not to mention frustrating) for someone who will be running at a 12 minute mile pace to line up in front of someone who will be running at a 5 minute mile pace. Position yourself properly—if there are no signs to help guide here, here’s a hint: the skinny guys in the short shorts are usually the really fast ones. But on a serious note, you can just ask folks what their expected pace is and the line up accordingly.

Don’t: Stop abruptly in the middle of the road while running.
This happened to me last weekend while running the Army Ten Miler—a group of runners stopped dead-on in the middle of the road, almost causing me to run into them. Again, it is dangerous and frustrating. If you are going to stop, look behind you and move to the edge of the road—not the middle.

Don’t: Spit without looking.
Sometimes you have to spit while you run. We get it. But it’s gross and no one (I repeat: NO ONE) wants to experience that. Please get to the side of the road and look behind you before going for it.

Don’t: Stop immediately once you cross the finish line.
It is definitely okay to slow down to a walk, but know that stopping immediately could cause someone else to run into you—not fun for anybody!

Don’t: Run more than two abreast.
Creating a wall during the race that other runners have to traverse around is considered rude. If you want to run with your friends—that’s great! But run two by two (or in a single-file if the road is very narrow). Don’t make other runners run off-road in order to be able to get around you.

The bottom line is to just think the of  these golden rules! Runners are the nicest, most supportive group of people I know so if you break one of these rules no one will yell at you—but everyone will have a more enjoyable race experience if you can avoid that!

What would you add to this list? Happy fall racing!

Read More Running Etiquette Tips:
Runner Etiquette—Picking Corrals and Road Safety
Pre-race Etiquette—To Wait In Line Or Find A Tree?