On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Race etiquette

The NYRR races are usually a mixed bag for me in terms of etiquette.  A lot of people don't seem to understand what I've always considered basic runner's etiquette (stay to the side when you're walking, don't stop dead in the middle of the race route, try to avoid cutting over sharply at the first sign of the water station), but I've learned to live with much of that.

I saw a few things Sunday at the tune up, though, that really rankled me.  Am I being overly sensitive?  You be the judge.  Here's what I saw:

-At the start, in my corral, I overheard two people talking.  They were standing immediately to my left, talking about their nerves and whether they were prepared to finish the race or not.  The woman pointed at someone in front of me and said to her companion, "Look at her.  If she's going to be able to finish, I can."  The woman in front of me was slightly on the heavier side, and the comment was obviously directed at her size (never mind that she had a well-used fuel belt on, all wicking clothes, and running shoes that were not brand new - signs, to me, that she was probably an experienced runner who had trained for this).  I turned and glared at the woman who said it and I really wish I'd said more.

-Because this was a three-loop course, I was lapped by the fastest runners twice and by many runners once.  The first time the leaders came around, they had cyclists and a police car announcing them.  I was pretty shocked at how many runners moved out of their lane while the cars and bikes passed, and then moved right back into that lane.  Honestly, I attribute some of this to headphone wearing.  I know lots of people depend on music to get them through their runs and races.  But this was a clear case of people being made oblivious to their surroundings by headphones.

-At one point, a child on a bike - he was probably about 12 or 13 - came up beside the race and noticed the water table.  He started saying, loudly to whoever he was with, "Look - they have water! I want water!!" and then he noticed that it was a Gatorade station and started yelling, "I want Gatorade!  I need Gatorade!" before cutting over into the race and asking runners to hand him a glass of Gatorade.  I was... shocked.  First off, whoever he was with should have told him not to do that.  Second off, it was pretty obvious that the water/Gatorade were set up for the race and not for the public.  Am I being too sensitive?  I wouldn't have outright denied the kid a glass of water or Gatorade, but I was shocked he had the gall to ask and, as a slower runner, I have been in a position where water tables have run out before I've gotten there.


  1. You're not being too sensitive. All the points that you describe are just an example of rudeness. Unfortunately this happens more and more often in races. I noticed this on last Sunday's race. Slower runners are supposed to stay on the right hand side of the road. The were signs along course to inform the runners about this 'rule'. However, 99% of de slower runners apparently didn't pay attention to these signs, and I ended up slalomming because of that. I had a blast, but the slalomming was no fun!

  2. Oh venting time!

    I've heard similar comments about size etc. I don't like them. I see plenty of larger people much faster than me. Size may have something to do with speed and endurance at some point, but if you're not in the first 2 corrals, probably it really doesn't matter at all.

    What really got me upset this past Sunday were the groups of 3. 3 take up most of the lane! One group was walking!!! I mean, come on. Squeeze together if you must, but one of you can probably stay behind.

    Also when I was finishing, and we had to run the gauntlet between the metal barriers some random women were walking there. With purse and everything. They weren't tired runners or walkers. They were in civilian clothes. Can't you see there's a race going on?

    Reminds me there was some random groups of non-runners also during the run. These people looked like tourists, but still. And I know the pack had thinned ou by then, but sill.

    Thanks for letting me get this out there!

  3. Thank you both! Vent away. I've tried to develop a thick skin, but I always appreciate hearing that others get irritated, too.

    Someone on the RW forums said that she saw a PEDICAB swerve into the race to get his passengers some water from a water table. Can you believe it?

  4. I mentioned this on Twitter, but when I volunteered at the Haiti Run for my 9+1 (the Haiti Run, if you remember, was a CHARITY RUN to benefit the victims of the DISASTROUS EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI)I was floored by one woman.
    She showed up late into race-day registration/packet pickup, demanded the NYRR Member price for registration (there was only one price for registration, as it was a CHARITY RUN) and demanded a first-corral bib.

    Lady - it's a charity race. An un-seeded charity race. You're paying your 30 dollars to help people whose lives were destroyed. You're getting 2 qualifiers out of the way. You're fast. Congratulations. Get the hell over yourself and remember why you're out there.

  5. That's also egregious, because I always like to use the "Well, in the heat of the race, you don't realize your behavior is bad" argument. But that lady sounds like she might just be a jackass.

  6. I get so frustrated when anyone NOT running a race gets on the course or crosses in front of me. I'm running and thus have momentum, meaning it's hard for me to stop. Don't be shocked if I plow into you.

  7. Yes, Ashley, yes! I've taken to yelling excuse me and putting my hands up as though to shove them. (I've yet to actually shove anyone - it seems to scare them into stopping.)

    I get that it's a hazard of races in Central Park, but I learned the method for crossing a race: go at an angle. It's much easier to weave in and out of the race without disrupting it if you don't cross exactly perpendicular to the course, but instead travel a few yards in the distance of the race while crossing.

  8. Slower runners starting at the front of the start. Baby-strollers in races. Kids riding bikes next to their running parents. Slow runners or walkers in groups that take up the entire path, making going around them impossible (so you have to go THROUGH them, and then they get all pissy)

  9. oh man i have a list as well - and i am the one with the baby stroller - doing my best to stay fit while raising a kid...i stay to the back, i don't cut people off but for crying out loud people be aware of your surroundings so i dont have to run over your foot or yell to you "on your left" when you meander around like a lost dog. take OFF the headphones, shut UP (why dont you people call each other AFTER the race to catch up)...i dont care what's happened since you saw each other 5 years ago! hahaha

    i'm so glad i'm not the only one with runner rage :)

  10. In the race on Sunday, there was 1 guy that kept stopping right in the middle of the left running lane to stretch out his hamstring. Wished I said something.

  11. 3-4 abreast is super-annoying and selfishly clueless.
    Training with a stroller or dog is fine, running in a crowded field of people is not, unless the event is advertised as "family" and does not include chip timing.
    I find costumed runners a PITA...they are often out on a lark and not paying enough attention. I'm no elite runner but the tutus/deelybobbers/mouse ears are just silly. Or sometimes their costume is shedding parts (feathers, sequins, fabric that covers naked areas). I had to drop out of MCM due to injury and so won't have to deal with Halloween-y marathoners, at least as a runner.

  12. Stretching in the MIDDLE of the lane?!? I get that he paid his $18 just like the rest of us, but that doesn't make it *your* race. And Annie, you're not the only one with rage. I don't mind the baby joggers - as long as they're allowed. They're not allowed in Central Park races, but people sometimes still have them... But I definitely agree with Kate that it's largely an attention thing. Anyone not paying attention to what they're doing is going to be annoying. I'm usually most annoyed at the costumed runners because they're beating slow me :)