10 Running Etiquette Tips for Races

If you're new to running in road races, you may not be familiar with some of the rules — both stated and unwritten. While many veteran runners love to see new runners joining the sport, they have pet peeves about inconsiderate behavior from other runners. To avoid annoying fellow runners (and prevent looking like a newbie), be sure to follow these etiquette guidelines when participating in races:


Pay for Your Spot

Amateur racers at the start of the Bolder Boulder 10 K Race, Memorial Day, Boulder Colorado
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Running in a race you haven't entered, also called "banditing", is not fair to race organizers, volunteers, and especially the people who have paid to participate. It's also unsafe since race organizers plan their course amenities, such as water and sports drinks, and medical assistance based on the number of people who have signed up for the race. And overcrowded race conditions can lead to falls and other problems.


Line Up Properly

Marathon Start
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Nothing is more annoying to a runner at the start of a race than having to weave around slower runners after the gun goes off. Faster runners should line up at the front of the starting line, slower runners , and walkers at the back. Some races have corrals based on estimated pace or post pace signs. If not, ask runners nearby their anticipated pace, and if it's faster than yours, move further back. Most races use timing chips, so the time it takes you to reach the starting line won't count in your final net time.


Don't Jingle

Runner in race

Don't carry loose change or a set of keys in your pocket. Although it may not bother you, the constant jingling can be really annoying to those who are running near you.


Don't Take Up the Whole Road

group running by water
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If you're running with a group, try not to run more than two abreast, so others can pass you.


Be Careful at Water Stations

Water cups on ground
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Water stations can get a bit chaotic and crowded. Use caution when running into a water stop and make sure you're not cutting off other runners or spilling water on them. If you're going to stop or slow down to walk through the water stop, make sure there's not a runner behind you.


Show Appreciation to Volunteers

Race Volunteer at Water Stop
Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images

Say "Thank You!" to race volunteers who hand you water or put your medal around your neck. They're volunteering their time and the race would not be successful without them.


Use Caution When Wearing Headphones

Runner Wearing Headphones
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Yes, most races allow runners to listen to music (as long as they're not competing for a prize), and a lot of runners can't run without their music. But, for your and other runners' safety, you should make sure you can still hear what happens around you. Keep the volume low or run with one earbud out so you can hear instructions from race officials and warnings (i.e., "on your left") from other runners during the race.


Thank Supporters, Too

Race spectators cheering
Dream Pictures/Ostrow

Acknowledge race spectators who cheer for you as you pass them. If you're too tired to say "thanks," show them a smile, wave, or give them a thumbs up. It will make them feel good and encourage them to keep rooting for others.


Keep Moving at the Finish

Woman Running Across Finish Line
Yellow Dog Productions

Don't immediately stop at the finish line or in the chute. There will be runners coming in right behind you, so keep going until it's safe to come to a stop.


Don't Be a Glutton

Smiling runners drinking water after marathon
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Don't take more than your fair share of food and drinks at the finish line. The back of the pack runners will appreciate it when there are still enough goodies for them at the end.

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