Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Discussing Race Etiquette

Okay, let's talk some racing etiquette points! In my last post, I tried to refute the claims I've seen that we supposedly rude and slow Team in Training runners (or TNT Tubbies as I saw us referred to all too often in running bulletin boards) were just ruining the race experience for real runners. I refute this, but have to agree that all runners - fast and slow, TNT and non-TNT - need to be aware of their behavior and etiquette on the marathon course.

I've been in five long distance races and about eight 10Ks - so I have some experience but not a ton. Even so, I've seen some of the things people complain about - too many runners and walkers abreast, people stopping on the course, people weaving in and out, runners carelessly tossing a half full cup of Gator Aide behind them without looking. I have seen Team in Training people do some of these things, and I have seen plenty of others not wearing the purple doing them. In my experience, a minority of runners use poor etiquette, but it does happen. To blame it all or even most of it on Team in Training is ridiculous, though.

So, here are my thoughts on proper race etiquette. For the record, I switch between running and walking, so am continually passing people and being passed - often the same ones again and again. I also usually carry a camera and take lots of photos. If you are a TNT participant or are running for any charity, it is especially important to use good judgement and race behavior, since apparently a lot of folks are judging us by the actions of a few.

1. Don't run more than 2 or three abreast, and if you even have that many, keep off to the side.
2. If you have to stop for whatever reason, move off the course.
3. Start in a corral that matches your realistic time of finishing the race. I am slow, but I routinely pass people in races that started eight or ten corrals ahead of me.
4. Be considerate at water stops. No one needs a cup full of sports drink or water tossed on them.
5. If the race course is crowded and you are running with others, leave a little space between you so faster runners can pass between.
6. If someone is struggling or needs help, take a second to see if they are OK and offer them some encouragement. Unless you are trying to qualify for Boston, a few seconds isn't going to cost you anything.

Now as a Team in Training participant five times, I guarantee you that our coaches emphasize all of these things - over and over. And I believe this is not unique to just our Virginia TNT coaches. So I am not buying that most TNTers are inconsiderate jerks as some of the people posting in the running bulletin boards seem to think - in fact, I've seen very few who are jerks. Let's just all be aware of others out on the race course. Frankly, any race with 30,000 or 40,000 participants is going to have a few bad apples, and will also by its nature have some congestion. So it is even more important to use good etiquette in really crowded races.

1 comment:

Trevor said...

Race Etiqutte is for everyone. Period. There is no excuse for rude behavior on a course and unless you are about to die, you should be thanking every volunteer you pass along the way. It shouldn't matter if you are wearing purple, representing the back of the pack, or running for the prize, common decency is for everyone. My worst marathon, I took the early start and a couple hours in was passed by the eventual winner, he made sure he said something encouraging to every runner he passed. Did he need to do that? No, of course he didn't.
Much different from the last 5K I ran where a woman pushing a jogging stroller with one hand an hanging on to the leash of an unruly yellow lab with the other hand caused chaos and stress for everyone around her. Was she in a purple shirt? Nope.

Love your posts, they are right on.