Race and event days vary enormously in terms of the number of runners participating, the terrain covered, fuel and/or refreshment options on course, and then there are the unexpected variables like sudden weather changes.
Unless you are an elite athlete, chances are you sign up for race days because they are FUN. Hence the term fun run. You go to catch up with running mates, to try and beat your own records and often to help raise money and awareness for a great cause as well. It should be a chance to push yourself, but to enjoy the event as well.
Sadly, there will always be those who aren’t so good at the ‘fun’ part, who take it all a little too seriously or who just forget to bring their manners on race day.
If this is someone you know, here is a handy list you can print off and give them before their next event.
Five Top Tips for Race Day Etiquette
1. Chill Out.
Many big events make for a really congested course, especially through the earlier sections. Whilst it is often possible to pick your way through and find a clearer space to pick up your pace, sometimes it is just too crowded.
When this is the case, CHILL OUT. Your race time, your PB attempt, your quicker legs are no more important than anyone else’s so show some respect and try to just enjoy it. DO NOT elbow, shove, push or swear at anyone else. And if someone does any of those things to you try not to react physically, but it is quite okay to point at the person and yell ‘Cut that crap out!’. Politely. Of course.
2. When you gotta blow, you gotta blow.
You know the one where you are running along merrily and suddenly realise that your nose is really stuffed up? That thing where you block a nostril and shoot is affectionately known a farmer’s blow. It is totally fine when you are out on a track or in training or all sorts of other situations.
It is NOT okay when you are in the middle of a tight pack of runners. Move to the side of the course and double check that no one is in your line of fire before you let that baby go, okay?
3. Same goes for spitting.
There is another scenario worth mentioning here though.
Lots of us find a rinse and spit at the water station is necessary before slugging down some H20.
Being water does not make it any more attractive when it shoots out of your mouth and onto another person. Truly.
As above, move to the side of the course, make sure the coast is clear and go for your life. Just be mindful, that’s all.
4. Say Thankyou
Along most race courses you will find volunteers handing out water, directing the racers or just cheering on participants.
Say thankyou and smile when you see them.
These people aren’t being paid, they aren’t getting a medal at the end and there’s every chance that some hard core thinks-s/he-is-an-elite-runner-but-isn’t has spat on them already.
Remind them that runners are awesome people, and why they love volunteering for races in the first place.
5. Do Unto Others
A running event is just like every other day of your life, except you might sweat more and breathe heavier than usual. And in fairness, most days probably don’t involve a medal sadly.
But like any other day, you need to use your head and your heart and think of others on race day.
Treat other racers as you would like to be treated.
If you would not usually shove, spit, swear at, annoy, harass, hassle or pick on another person, don’t do it on the course. If you would do those things you have bigger issues than race day etiquette , and to be honest you need to stop reading this right now and take a good hard look at yourself.
One of the most amazing things about runners is that the majority are incredibly supportive and open hearted. Note how many people will encourage, high five, thumbs up and cheer on total strangers on race day.
We are a strong, supportive community who love to see each other succeed. Be the highest version of yourself and as you politely pass another runner on the course with plenty of space to get by and without flicking sweat at them, call out some encouragement and watch them light up. Your words might be the thing that gets them over the wall. You may become their happiest memory of a challenging day.
Most of all, have fun. You’ve done the training, get out there and smile with every step.