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Racing Etiquette

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Many new runners, in particular, are unsure of what do at their first ever "fun run". This guide aims to present a list of suggestions on how to behave. This might be a useful reminder for more experienced runners also.

Note - its not a "How best to prepare for a race" list but a guide to not doing anything silly on race day.

The initial idea for this guide came from a posting on CoolRunning.


Before The Race

  1. The race director and the posted rules are always correct - if you don't agree with them, don't do the race - find another one. Don't agree to the rules by entering then start arguing about something you don't like.
  2. Read up on the policy for what happens if you enter but can't run - can you sell your number or get a refund or neither ? Do this before you try to do something that is not allowed (if in doubt ask the race director)
  3. Double-check the date and start time of the race before you go to bed the previous night.
  4. Pin your race number to the front of your body - not your back and not your cap. If you wear a top that covers it (or you remove your top before you cross the line), find your number and hold it in front as you cross the finish line. Lots of people are crossing the line and you might get missed if it is not where the officials are looking.
  5. Go to the toilet before you line up at the start, particularly if you have been drinking lots of fluid. If you line up for the start then leave to go to the toilet, you are likely to lose your place.
  6. When lining up for the start, please stand in an appropriate position. If you are likely to win the race or come in the top 10 overall then stand on the front of the starting line. If you are more likely to finish towards to the end ie you are slower then stand at the back. If you are unsure then move towards the rear. Most runners find it very frustrating to be behind slower people especially at the start - there will be plenty of time to catch up later when the runners thin out.


During The Race

  1. Never stop suddenly - either at a drinks station or on the finish line. People WILL run into the back of you and be very annoyed.
  2. At water stations it is best to grab a water and move away from the table as fast as possible.
  3. In general, you can carry your own water bottle, either in your hand or in some kind of bum bag.
  4. If you normally listen to music on the run, CD, radio, MP3 then you can during the race (never seen one where you can't, but its always good to check the rules - if no mention of it then you can). Just remember though that you won't be able to hear what's going on and there will be a lot more people around than when you are out training.
  5. If you must spit during the race, make sure it is not onto other people.
  6. Don't abuse race volunteers - most often they have given up their free time to assist for no pay. They might not be runners and may have never been to a race before. They can't help it and are generally trying to help. If you abuse them they won't help next time. Maybe the race director didn't brief them properly - speak to the race director in these cases. In fact it is good karma to thank ALL race volunteers/marshalls.


After The Race

  1. Check the race policy for awards and if you ran well enough to win one please stay for the presentations. It is a pain to have to hang around for ages but its so rude to leave. If you MUST leave beforehand make sure you personally tell the race director and arrange to have it collected for you or sent on. Race Directors hate to make an announcement and then stand there like a dill.
  2. If you feel you have some complaint about the race - its best to let the race director have the opportunity to comment/fix it before you blast it out in public on a webpage.
  3. When you get home, logon to coolrunning and post about your first race. How it felt, whether you were pleased with the result, if it was as you expected it to be, and any other reactions. It's good encouragement for other newbies to get out there and race!
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