Over the years I have put together training plans for veteran runners and new runners. I give them pre race check lists, offer any advice to anything I can do to relieve any pre race anxiety. One thing I found that new runners don’t know about it racing etiquette and it’s this unknown that can cause anxiety.
There are rules, both written and and unwritten. Most veteran runners are excited to see new runners joining the sport but they may have some pet peeves about poor behavior from runners who just don’t know any better . Follow these racing etiquette guidelines and you will avoid annoying other runners,looking like a newbie, and keep yourself and others safe.

Don’t be a Bandit – Pay for Your Spot

Running in a race you haven’t entered, also called “banditing”and it’s 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, (water and sports drinks, food,bathrooms) and medical assistance based on the number of people who have signed up for the race. Overcrowded race conditions can lead to falls and other problems. If you feel funny about paying for a race, find one that is for a good cause. Many races are designed to raise money for something. R2R is raising money to feed the hungry in Macomb, a good cause for sure. So you don’t feel funny paying for this race.

Line Up Properly

New Runners - Racing Etiquette

Nothing is more annoying to runners at the start of a race than having to weave around slower runners after the gun goes off. Granted some of this is inevitable but lining up properly can help keep this to am minimum. Faster runners should line up at the front of the starting line, slower runners and walkers at the back. Larger races usually have corrals or signs indicating where 9, 10, 11, etc minute milers should line up. Line up according to what kind of pace you think will be running. Smaller races don’t have signs, so just be wise and don’t go in the front unless you are a 5 min miler.

Don’t Jingle

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. Most running gear has a small pocket to put your car key in.

Don’t Take Up the Whole Road

If you’re running with a group, try not to run more than two abreast, so others can pass you. (I hear this complaint a lot) This is especially true on the Macomb Orchard trail. Try to stay to the right side to allow others to pass you on the left.

Show Appreciation to Volunteers


Say “Thank You!” to race volunteers who hand you water or put your medal around your neck. They’re volunteering their time (typically they are getting up early on their Saturday to help out, even it’s raining or snowing) and the race would not be successful without them. Not only that, I think it helps keep you in a good mood.

Use Caution When Wearing Headphones

Yes, most races will allow runners to run with headphones (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 happening 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

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 and again it makes you feel good too. Many times kids will want to give you “five” and put their hand out there for you to hit.

Be Careful at Water Stations

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 right on your tail.

Keep Moving at the Finish

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

Don’t Be a Glutton

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 is still enough goodies for them at the end. Also the food is not to share with your family or other support. You may want to thank them for being there and think you are being nice to share with them. Just be aware how much you are taking, how many more runners are coming, and how much food is left.

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