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Race Day Etiquette

Posted on June 27 2018

Race Day Etiquette

If you’re anything like me, you get super excited when Race Day comes around.  You can’t wait to see your friends, you can’t wait to run all the miles, you’re moving along great and then suddenly it happens—another runner does something that throws you off your game.  Whether you’re a first time racer or running your sixtieth race, here are some helpful tips to make everyone’s race day one to remember.


Start in Your Assigned Corral

You’re assigned to corral 10 but all your friends are in corral 3- what do you do?! I’ve been there, I know what it’s like to want to run with your friends so you think about sneaking up to their corral.  I won’t lie—I’ve done it. But it’s a bad idea, for everyone involved.  If you move up to a faster corral than what you can run, you can “get in the way” of runners who are in that corral.  Or let’s say you can keep up with their speed for the first few miles, can you keep it up for the entire race? That’s the lesson I learned when I scooted to a faster corral—I was fine at the beginning of the race but it didn’t take long before I realized it was too fast for me and it impacted my overall race.  It was a “one and done” event for me—I learned my lesson.  So your friends are in a faster corral than you?  Invite them to join you in your corral or make plans to meet them in the finish area. 



Stay Right 
I’m a big believer in listening to your body and sometimes that means taking a walk break during a race. But there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of your race and having someone stop right in front of you and start walking.  Not only can it be frustrating, but it can also be dangerous for all parties involved- the runner has to come to a sudden “stop” and there’s a chance the walker may have someone run into them.  When I know I’m going to need to take a walk break, I make my way to the right side of the course and make sure no one is directly behind me before I slow down to a walking pace.  One of the best examples I’ve seen of the run to walk transitions have been at runDisney races, where you not only raise a hand to indicate you’re slowing down, but people often shout “walking” before slowing down.  

Run Two Wide

 You’re running with a group of friends, you’re having a blast and don’t realize that your group of friends has created a “fence” across the course.  When groups run more than two wide, it makes it harder for other runners to pass.  There will always be parts of a race course that are more congested than others- you may even need to run single file are some parts.  That also means there will be parts of the race course where you can run wider than two runners, but as a whole, “two wide” is a good rule to follow.

Aide Stations

We all know that hydration can play a key role in your race event, whether it’s a 5K or a marathon.  I take water from every station I pass and know that aide stations can sometimes be a cluster of people.  Sometimes people grab a cup of water and just stop, blocking others’ access to the table and the path of people who want to keep moving through. I find it easiest when I grab a cup of water and keep moving—when there are times I want to stop to drink the water, I move to the side of the course at the end of the aide station.  This keeps me out of everyone’s way and gives me the chance to hydrate without having worrying about what’s going on around me.  A win-win for everyone.


Say Thank You
During a race event, you’re going to pass a lot of volunteers, whether they’re the ones handing out the water at the aide stations or if they’re the ones on the course making sure you’re headed in the right direction.  Every volunteer has their role and it helps make your race go more smoothly.  Give a little shout-out as you pass them by- “thank you for being out here!” Or “thank you!”  Not only can a few simple words help them feel appreciated, it can also help improve your mood as you’re running!


Have Fun

My biggest piece of race etiquette advice? Whether you’re out there trying to qualify for Boston or out there just to finish, have fun! 

What’s your biggest pet peeve during a race?

Until next time, happy running!


Jennifer Smith

Miles & Pace Ambassador || My adventures from 13.1 

📸 @jenn13.1