Race Etiquette Wish List

The Boston Marathon was yesterday and I don’t know about you, but watching coverage of that race makes me want to sign up for #alloftheraces. Your first race can be a bit overwhelming. Running alone is a different beast.

When you’re running with thousands of other people there are a few things you can do to make the experience better for everyone. Whether it’s your first race or your 100th, there are some understood rules of the road. Feel free to add your own items in the comments!

Here is my race etiquette wish list: 

1. Don’t start in the wrong corral. 
It’s annoying for other runners, it will be troublesome for you. I used to get nervous and start a corral back from where I should be. I would spend the first mile of any race trying to get in front of runners who were slower and it was insanely frustrating. For everyone. Likewise, if you’re not an elite, don’t stand in the front. You will get pummeled and you’ll prevent someone from running their best race.

starting line
I’m sure that kid in the orange sweatpants crushed the NYAC runner.

2. Don’t run 3-across.
I will allow you one running buddy on race day. That’s it. Races are crowded and people need to be able to pass you. If you run as a row of people, no one can get in front of you. Group running is fine for a casual Sunday afternoon jog, but keep it to two across on race day.

cold weather running
It’s okay to take a photo with as many people as you want after the fact.


3. Don’t stop abruptly in the middle of the course.
If you need to tie your shoes, or massively slow down or stop for any reason, pull over. It’s the same as stopping short while driving and its very hazardous to runners around you.

4. Look before you spit.
If you have to spit or otherwise be gross during a race, fine. Just please don’t spit on other people. Consider the wind. Look first.

5. Run forward. Face forward.
The way running a race works is we all run in the same general forward direction. It’s an assumption that no one is going to come at you from the left or right, since we should all be running forward. If you spend a lot of time running side to side (to pass people for for any reason) people will not expect you to suddenly appear, and will trip on you, or you might get (accidentally) kicked.

nyc marathon
Matt is facing the wrong way, but he is waving to my family. So I am torn on this one.

6. Do not drop things on the race course.
I don’t care if you take off your hat, I just don’t want to trip on it. Throw them off to the side.

Any other rules you’d wish your fellow runners would follow? Share in the comments!


  1. giannanicole22
    April 19, 2016 / 12:56 pm

    Oh just yes to all of these! I was spit on this weekend in a half. The rage that boiled up in me…

    I have to add listening to music on your phone without headphones. WHO DOES THAT?!?! Seriously, why would it occur to you to do it? But, I can attest someone in every race will. The worst is when you can’t get away from them.

    • Nicole
      April 19, 2016 / 1:06 pm

      being spit on is a major downer mid-race. Which half did you run?

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