Race Etiquette and Helpful Hints Guide

Adapted from Road Runners Club of America, 2019


  • All runners have a collective responsibility to keep the event safe. Races generally discourage running with dogs, headphones, cell phones, and jogging strollers; please respect those requests and all rules as outlined in the race form.

  • Pin your race number on the front of your shirt/shorts. This is where it is most visible for photographers and race officials. Do not remove or fold the timing chip that is stuck to the back.

  • Line up according to how fast you plan to run or walk the event. Slower runners and walkers should move to the back of the start area. If you arrived early that does not mean you should be at the front of the starting line.

  • Pay attention to the pre-race instructions. This is NOT the time to be blaring your favorite song on your personal music device.

  • If you drop something as the race starts, don’t stop and pick it up! Wait until almost everyone has crossed the starting line; then retrieve it.

  • Don’t drop clothing on the course after you warm-up. Some races allow clothing to be discarded at the start. If you must shed layers of clothing, tie them around your waist or place them on the side of the road where no one will trip over them. If you drop it; don’t expect to get it back.

  • Run or walk no more than two abreast. We repeat: Do not walk or run in a group of two or more. You’ll block others and create a hazard.

  • Be aware of your surroundings by not wearing headphones. If you must wear headphones, only wear one earbud or keep the volume low enough to hear others around you. We have seen many accidents caused by oblivious runners. And DO NOT wear a portable speaker and subject others to your taste in music. That’s just being a jerk.

  • Bodily functions are a fact of life during a race. If you need to spit, blow your nose or throw-up, move to the side of the road and do it there. If nature calls, check for a port-a-potty, an open business, a kind neighbor along the course, or as a last resort, a discreet clump of bushes before relieving yourself.

  • Move to the side if someone behind you says “excuse me” or “on you’re your right/left”. The person behind you is giving you a heads up before passing. It’s proper race etiquette to let that person pass you without blocking their effort.

  • If someone in front of you is wearing headphones, and they are blocking, gently touch their elbow or shoulder as you pass to alert them to your presence.

  • If you need to tie your shoe or stop for any reason (phone call, nose blow, etc) move to the side of the road and step off the course.

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. The course may or may not be closed to traffic. It is your responsibility to watch for oncoming traffic!

  • Follow the designated course. Don’t cut the course or run with someone else’s number--that’s cheating, plain and simple.

  • When approaching an aid station to hydrate or re-fuel, take note of others around and behind you, and move to the right and grab your fluid/nutritional needs from the volunteers or the aid tables then continue forward away from the volunteers or aid table.

  • Throw your used cup to the side away from the course as close to an aid station or trash can as possible. Please do not carry your cup for ½ mile and dispose of it in someone else’s yard.

  • Say thank you to the volunteers manning the aid station.

  • Follow the instructions of the race officials at the finish.

  • Once you have crossed the finish line, keep moving forward until the end of the finish chute. Stay in finishing order if the event is not electronically timed so the finish line volunteers can remove the pull tags for scoring.

  • Enjoy the post-race refreshments, but remember it is not an all you can eat buffet for you and your family.

  • Stick around to cheer in the final finishers. They’ve worked just as hard; give them the same kudos you’d want. 

  • Smile for the finish line photo :) 

  • Volunteer for other races.