Thursday, September 24, 2015
How to Make Sure You Don't Ruin a Race for Others
Unfortunately things can happen in a race that can ruin it for us. I am not talking about weather or our own limitations, training or under-training or injuries. I am talking about the occasional time that another runner or runners on a course do things that ruin it or ruin parts of our experience.
Earlier this year, I asked this question in a few different online running groups. The response I received was overwhelming.
I asked runners who run half marathons or marathons what things they experienced in a race that ruined part of the race experience? Or if they could remind other runners new and old what things they may be doing that they should consider stop and consider runners etiquette first.
I am not going to mention everything everyone brought up. Just the ones that had the highest response. I should note, I polled many and had over 400 responses from different distance runners for this purpose.
GROUPS OF RUNNERS WHO RUN SIDE BY SIDE
What is it? Generally groups of 3+ runners, who are running side by side each other blocking the path for other runners to get around them.
The Fix: It's an unwritten rule (although in some races even written in the rules.) 2 abreast is runner politeness. Runners should never run more than 2 side by side, and in some instances in very crowded courses possible even single file. It's called use your head, and be courteous and don't let your group of friends ruin the race course for others by blocking it!
PACE GROUPS BLOCKING ENTIRE ROAD OR HALF THE ROAD
What are they? Although pace groups are great, some leaders in them may have a hard time reminding the group to not hog the road, or they forget all together.
The Fix: Help the pacer out, remind others in the group it is rude to block the road, half the road or more should be left for others to pass, especially early on. It's okay to be a courteous leader and mention this to others, because common sense and courtesy to is always okay!
Who/what are they? Runners who are using a run/walk program. Or runners who are stopping frequently and not paying attention that they are running with others who trained or plan to run the entire race, and don't know the person in front of them is about to stop. Especially early on when the course is still very crowded.
The Fix: Take a quick glance behind you before you stop, and always slow to a stop to allow someone behind you to catch on to what your doing. Mostly so they don't run into you. It's also common courtesy in a race to make your way to the side before stopping especially in crowds and early on in a race.
(Although some race walk programs tell you to raise your hand before you stop, it's a pretty good guess that very few runners know what that means, because it only makes sense to those who do the programs, not the rest of the field, so NO a hand raise isn't always the only thing to do just before you stop!)
PICTURE TAKING RUNNERS
Who What? Runners who ask other runners to stop on the course and take their picture... This is just rude and wrong, they may say yes to be polite but no one wants to stop the groove they have gotten into and take your picture. Also in this, are the runners who stop frequently to take selfies along the course and not look behind them as they do.
The Fix: Just don't do it! But if you must, have your family and friends watching take your picture, or purchase a course picture after. If you absolutely have to have a course selfie, move to the side of the road (do not stop abruptly) make sure no one is behind you, and snap it yourself. Never ask other runners to stop and take your picture, that is just rude!
SPITTERS & SNOT BLOWERS
Who What? Those runners who have trained themselves to have to spit constantly and decide to never look at where that spit is going to fly. Many times, hitting the person just behind or to the side of them.
The Fix: You can train yourself not to spit, but if you absolutely must do it; watch where you're spitting. If it's a crowded course, consider running on the sideline so you can spit into non traffic of runners. Or if it is supper crowded, use your shirt. Use COURTESY and be KIND, remembering, you probably don't want someone elses stinky saliva or drippy boogers stuck to you either.
RUNNERS LITTER ON THE COURSE
Who What? You've seen them, they throw their gloves, energy packets or other items right on the ground in the middle of the course for others to have to dodge or step on or in some cases trip over. Some just assume the entire course is theirs and drop whatever garbage anywhere.
The Fix: Sweats, bags, unwanted gear, etc... Early on in the course when you discard these either place them off the course on the side of the road, or wait until you get to a water station.
Energy packets, if you use them make sure you're holding on to them, or throwing them in the garbage's at the aid stations. It's just rude to litter and a lot of races are starting to add fines for anyone caught littering.
Proper etiquette: If your running, generally it's okay to throw things on the ground or to the side if you are at a water station, But if you're walking slower you should aim for the garbage cans, since you have the time.
LINE UP PROPERLY
Who What? You're a 12 minute mile runner, and you line up with the 6 minute mile group for some reason or another. All you're going to do is annoy everyone around you, and possibly cause injury to others.
The Fix: Line up where you're supposed to, in your target pace field. Worst case scenario you have a great day and you get to pass a lot more people on the course!
Who What? You've heard them, their keys are in their pocket or packs or spare change or other things that jingle. We have no idea how it doesn't annoy them, but it annoys everyone else around.
The Fix: If you think you might jingle, pack better so you don't! If you're running next to a jingler, use this as time to pick up your pace and get away from them, who knows that annoying person may be the reason you PR. (Hint: If you must carry possible jingle items Tape your keys or change together! You can thank me for that tip later!)
WATER STATIONS STOPPERS
Who are they? We've all seen them, they run right up to the water station grab their cup and come to an abrupt stop, ignoring that others around want to grab a cup and keep going.
The Fix: If you must stop to drink your water, run by grab your cup(s) and keep on running until you are out of the traffic of others trying to get theirs. Or grab your cup and move to the center or other side of the road before stopping to walk.
Additionally, it is possible to drink and run at the same time. The trick is to bend your cup so you have a corner to drink from.
For runners who don't plan on stopping, your best bet are the volunteers further down the water station line. Most the stopper and newbies will hit the first few volunteers.
SPEAKER BLARING RUNNERS
Who are they? Those who decided to skip the headphones and share their play list with everyone. Because they figure if it is awesome to them then it might be awesome for others to hear too.
Why is this wrong? Because some don't want to listen to music at all, and we can only listen to the Rocky theme song so many times.... Actually it's just rude, if you want to listen to music that is totally fine, but be courteous and kind to others and put headphones on. If you can't run with headphones then music isn't for you! Learn to love the sound of the pavement or nature and the casual fun runners chat, that's the best part anyway!
FINISH LINE HOGS
Who are they? They finish their race and think nothing of others and fill their arms up, their bags up with as much food as they possibly can and some even give it to their families who watched and go back for more.
Why is this wrong? It's wrong because food hoarders are the rudest finishers at a race. It's not fair if you take all the food early on and there is nothing left for those back of the pack runners. Everyone pays the entrance fee's and everyone deserves to have food waiting for them at the finish, even if they are last.
The Fix: Only take 1, and only take your share. Food is for runners not spectators, if you don't want it leave it for someone who ran who does. If you see someone food hogging, it is okay to tell them politely that it is not appropriate. If you volunteer at a race, this is definitely okay and your job to say something if you are manning the finish food area's.
Who are they? Those who are doing the run/walk plans or who use GPS devices that use beeps to pace them and keep them on track. We aren't talking about the ones that beep once a mile, but the ones that either have a constant beep that they run a stride too, or the ones that beep several times every 10-30 seconds if a runner is off pace.
Why are they rude? Because others running your same pace didn't come to listen to a beep every few seconds or less.
The fix: If you can't stay on track to keep the beeping off, then just turn the device off. If you have one that you can turn the beep notification off, turn it off if it become excessive.
It is possible to learn to run/walk at a certain pace without a machine beeping to tell you, you are on target, I promise. Trust me, thousands of others do it every day, and if they can, so can you:)
If your near a beeper, while it is okay to politely ask them to turn it off, chances are since they thought it was okay to begin with, they probably won't listen to you unless you get the group of runners around you to all ask them at the same time. Instead, if all else fails just run faster than them, and hopefully you can leave them and their beep in the dust and maybe even have PR:)
THE "YOU'RE ALMOST THERE"
Who are they? Sometimes these are spectators, other times they are runners who are passing you thinking you need someone to tell you "its okay, you are almost there."
Why is this annoying? First everyone knows how far they have to go, and generally when someone says "your almost there" you probably aren't almost there.
While it might be fine to say to your family or friends jokingly, it's become one of the most annoying comments on the course runners get.
The fix: For spectators, instead come up with something less annoying to say or be more creative! Also if you are the runner passing someone while saying this, just don't. Even though you may have the best of intentions, its actually more courteous not to say anything than the famously annoying "you can do it, you're almost there."
On that note, your "almost there" to the end of this post, LOL
FINISHERS WHO RUN BACK ON THE COURSE
Who are they? They finished their race, and for some reason feel it is appropriate to get back on the course and run against you to either cheer or tell you that you're getting closer to the finish. Because they think it is cool to let others know they finished, and before you, and now they are running even more???
Why is this annoying? Duh... You had your race, why would you think it is appropriate to hop back on the course and run against the traffic?
The fix: Don't do it! If you want to cheer, cheer on the sidelines!
Who are they? Rude runners, who say rude comments or put others down. This includes those who complain about the course or the officials or the volunteers.
If this is you: Quit your complaining, and never say rude comments to others. Don't be a race bully. Be courteous, be kind! Just like Cinderella would promote:) It's also that thing they tried to teach you in kindergarten, but you ,may have forgotten.
Don't complain about the race or course, others are there to have a great time and have fun, they don't want to hear your whining. If you must complain, save it after when you are back in your hotel room alone!
Never complain about the volunteers to the volunteers, they are volunteers if it wasn't for them, a race couldn't operate! If you have an issue and something needs to be said, email the race director after, so they can fix things in the future.
What can you do? If you hear others being rude, or putting others down, take a stand and stick up for it and stop it. No one likes a bully, and others will take your side!
If you are around a complainer, the best way to deal with them is just to speed up and get away from them!
Although, those were the top responses I was given on this topic. I would like to say, there are very few of these people out there, MOST RUNNERS ARE GREAT and AMAZING to run along with and meet, runners with KIND HEARTS who would never do anything intentionally to ruin someone else's race.
In the end, it just comes down to being KIND so that everyone can have their own most enjoyable race possible!
Have you witnessed rude sportsmanship before in a race? Or have you seen something in races that you wish others would think twice before doing?
Or have you witnessed awesome things runners do on a race course that have made your race day?