Have you ever been at a race and thought “I can’t believe that person just did that!!!” It’s not uncommon to have your foot stepped on, be shoved aside as you exit the starting corrals or have another runner steal your finish line photo moment. Have you ever been that person? Maybe you did and didn’t realize it!

Race etiquette is an important part of the experience. We may think of etiquette as an old-fashioned concept from the days of Downton Abbey, but it’s also a concept that we can apply to modern-day racing.

Race-day etiquette is an important part of not just doing well in the race, but having common courtesy to others, and also staying safe, while keeping your fellow racers safe too.

1. Corral or seed yourself according to your expected pace. Don’t line up at the front if you’re not a super fast runner. You’ll either get trampled or you’ll cause an issue for others.

2. Don’t be a jerk when passing. Just don’t. Don’t push through people or practically run them over.

3. Don’t stop dead in your tracks. If you’re stopping to tie your shoe as I did in the Philadelphia Marathon, hop off the course to the side and take care of your business. If you’re a run/walker, look behind you before you start walking.

4. Run one or two abreast. Don’t run 2-3 people across and block the course for others.

5. Be aware when going through water stations – don’t stop suddenly in the middle of the path if you need to get a drink of water or gel. Try to keep moving and stay to the side.

6. Aim your cup. Try to aim your empty cup to/towards a trash can or the side of the road, so that others don’t slip on it, and it won’t splash all over the person behind you when it hits the ground.

7. Smile! Show your appreciation for the cheering spectators – after all, they’re making it a great day for you! One reason we choose certain races is because of the amount of spectators. If those awesome people cheering their hearts out feel as though nobody cares, they’re going to stop! So smile, nod, or even just look them in the eye to show them how much of a difference they make.

8. Let them have their thunder. This one is tricky because often at the finish line, we’re all in a daze. But if at all possible, try to be aware of the finish line moment that your fellow racers are trying to have. Sure, race them to the finish line, but try not to knock them over with your outstretched arms or jump in front of their finish line photo.

9. Take your banana and move on. Don’t take more than you need at the finish line food table. The race director has ordered food according to the number of participants. Take one of each item and move on. If you need more food, go buy yourself some breakfast after the race or keep a cooler with post-race food in your car.

10. Thank the volunteers! There are tons of volunteers needed to make a race go smoothly. Thank them, appreciate them, don’t litter and make their job harder, and consider volunteering for a race yourself.

It all goes back to this: Have common courtesy. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Stay safe. Keep others safe. Think of others.


By Nichols