Race Manners - 10 Etiquette Rules for Walking Events

Don't be an Ugly Walker

Runners and walkers at the Rock 'n' Roll Portland Half Marathon
Runners and Walkers at the Rock 'n' Roll Portland Half Marathon. Wendy Bumgardner ©

When you enter an event - be it a charity walk, a fun run/walk, a half marathon or marathon - your behavior is important. Know the basic rules of race etiquette before you cross the starting line.

1. Line Up in the Correct Pace Group: If the event has different pace groups set up at the start, get into the correct one. You may think you gain something by starting closer to the front than your pace would allow, instead you will become an obstacle.

2. Do Not Walk More Than 2 Abreast: The biggest complaint you will hear from other participants is difficulty in getting around a group of walkers or runners. The simple rule is - no more than 2 abreast. Even if you start off at the back of the pack, you can be assured there is somebody behind you getting angrier and angrier that they can't easily pass you. If you are part of a charity group, please educate the others in your group that you need to walk no more than 2 abreast at all times during the event.

3. Allow Yourself to Get Passed: Be aware of people who want to pass you. You will be correct if you just assume that somebody always wants to pass you, so leave room to allow them to pass on the left. If they ask to pass on the right with a "Passing on the Right" then keep your arms in and let them pass on the right.

4. Don't Pass Somebody and then Slow Down Right in Front of Them: Run/walkers are the biggest culprits in this.

I swear that they use me as a target. They run up to me, veer in front of me and then slow to a snail's pace. Remember that the folks behind you do not slow down when you do. Never race ahead of someone unless you continue to check that you are still going faster than them and continuing to gain distance on them.

5. Pull to the Side if You Must Stop: If you have a shoe problem, get a phone call, want to take a photo, etc. you must move completely to the side of the course and ensure you are not blocking anyone. If possible, step off the course and onto the sidewalk or grass. Do not stop in near the start of a race or you will risk being trampled and tripping others.

6. Move Through the Water Stops: The proper way to grab water at an aid station is to do it at a steady pace, on the move, and pull completely through the aid station. If you need to stop, go all of the way off the side of the course to do so. Do not stop within the aid station. Even at smaller events, take your water and move to the side if you plan to chat with the volunteers. Watch where you fling your cup after using it so you don't toss it on racers approaching you from the side.

7. Move Predictably and Keep Your Arms to Yourself: Try to move predictably rather than weaving and veering into other people. Don't fling your arms out suddenly - someone may be trying to pass you and get clothes-lined.

8. Don't be a Hog at the Feeding Stations: There are other, slower people behind you. Take only what you need at that moment. Above all, don't cart off a box of goodies from the finish unless and until you are the absolute last finisher, and everybody else is out of the finish area and the medical tent.

That food is for others, not just for you, and for today only.

9. Spit Happens - Don't Share It: If you need to spit, or vomit, or toss anything liquid, try to pull to the side and ensure you aren't projecting onto somebody else.

10. Portajohn Line Courtesy: Somebody in line behind you is desperate for that portajohn. If there is a line, line up close to the doors and keep paying attention to a portajohn being vacated - don't delay the others in line by dithering or being distracted. If you're going to hand stuff to a friend or put it outside the door, do that or plan for that before you are at the head of the line, so you are ready to race into the john.

Allow others with greater need to go first if they look desperate. Do not complain about "smelly portajohns." We love all portajohns. We think the world needs more portajohns. Tell that to the race director for planning for next year. It's best to carry your own toilet paper or kleenex and hand sanitizer as the portajohn may be out of those.

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