Race Etiquette – Or How Not To Run With Your Head Up Your Butt

As we officially kick off the race season – or at least the one that REALLY matters, (you know what I’m talking about)…


…I think it would only be responsible to cover the rules of the road.  Not that I could ever be mistaken for responsible.  Just sayin’.  I do, however, like to NOT be the knucklehead who ends up running into someone, stops suddenly and causes a pileup, or hawks a loogie, (and yes, I had to look up how to spell loogie), and ends up having it land on the poor sap unlucky enough to be running behind or next to me.

run niceCatchy title, ain’t it?

So once again I ventured into the archives of the runner’s holy grail – Runner’s World magazine – to find what words of wisdom awaited my ever inquisitive dollar machine brain.  I am glad to report I have yet to violate most of the proper protocols.  (Note I said MOST.)  Whether or not I decide to change those current statistics is still up for debate.  However, I really don’t want turn into THAT runner.  Unless of course…

zombies tripping

Then all bets are off.  Seriously.  I will even run over Jon Bon Jovi himself.  Sorry my love, that’s just the way it goes.

bon jovi crutches

My bad.

Now this list could get pretty lengthy.  But my attention span is that of a two year-old’s, so I’m just going to hit the highlights.  Feel free to chime in at any time.  Really.  Please.  Then I don’t have to type as much.

1. Race in the official race shirt:  If you’re a chafer, probably not the smartest move, especially if it’s of the dreaded cotton persuasion.  Plus being the somewhat superstitious Black Dog that I am, I’m not screwing with any bad race juju and claiming bragging rights before I cross the finish line.  And as far as those “I Did It” shirts at Disney races?  Hey! runDisney!  I’ll bet if you have a couple of booths of them AT the finish line, instead of the expos, you’ll make even more gazillions than you already do.  Just a thought.

2. Bandit a race:  At the risk of annoying Nike, JUST DON’T DO IT. Rude, obnoxious, and NOT funny.  Qualifies you for Super Loser Status.  Which is WAY worse than normal loser status.  Way, way worse.  Really way worse.


3. Move the heck over. PLEASE.:  Now I know you and your posse are all psyched up to compete.  You’ve put in the hours, the mileage, spent hours putting together some amazeballs costumes, and you are ready to rock.  Awesome.  But for the love of Wonder Mutt, please, please, PLEASE do not take up the entire frog-flippin’ road!  If you’re walking, keep it to two, or at the MOST three, people across.  Any wider than that and runners coming up behind you have to start imitating a pinball.  Which may not be that big a deal to you, but when you have to constantly keep moving side to side, as opposed to forward, you end up adding unnecessary mileage and increase your risk for injury.  And a grumpy runner does not a fun race make. For ANYONE.

grumpy grumpy cat

4.  Get pissy with slower runners:  This is simple.  GET OVER IT.  We’re not all there to try to cross the finish line first, win an age group award, or even set a PR.  Some of us are there to just – dare I say it – HAVE FUN.  Don’t like it?  Deal with it.  In a race with 14,999 other runners, it’s not all about you.  Unless you’re short and have really big ears.  Then it IS all about you.  I defer to thee on whose turf it is.

runner Mickey

Yes Mickey. It IS all about you. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

5.  Disposal of bodily fluids:  Always my favorite.  I always find this aspect of races the most amusing, if not the most disgusting.  But what can you do?  We’re all human, right?  Well, with the exception of THAT guy who wins every Disney race ever.  He’s just a freak of nature or something alien, I’m sure.  However, for the rest of us run of the mill humans, spit, snot rockets, and gaseous emissions, are all just part of the game.  In instances of the dire need to expel said substances, I would simply offer two very basic pieces of advice.  1. Check wind direction, and b. check proximity to next closest victim runner.  Preferably BEFORE expelling said snot, phlegm, or gas.  Your consideration will be greatly appreciated.  GREATLY.  MUCHO GREATLY.  Trust me.

Dear Runner Dude, thank you for not farting when I was directly downwind of you.

Dear Runner Dude, thank you for not farting when I was directly downwind of you.

So as we head into what I know will be yet another glorious racing season, both at Disney and elsewhere, (I know, I know, WHY would you run anywhere else?), please keep these few guidelines in mind.  Especially when it comes to making your menu choices prior to start time.  A lunch of beans in the Mexico pavilion the afternoon of the Wine and Dine will not be appreciated.  Trust me.

shepherd roll

Dude! REALLY?!?


Enjoy the ride.

What advice would you offer a newbie racer?  What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you during a race?

stink face cat

19 thoughts on “Race Etiquette – Or How Not To Run With Your Head Up Your Butt

  1. I had to google the meaning of bandit lol! I never even thought to join a race without paying, its madness. With regard to bodily emissions for the wetter ones – carry a tissue, I always carry one in my bra 🙂 One of my things is – if someone gets hurt, help them. I’ve been to too many races where time has been so important that runners have jumped over injured parties, run past crying scared kids (this was at orienteering) and have on occasion pushed people over. It isn’t worth it!!

    • I swear sometimes people get so obsessed with getting to the finish line as quick as they can, they forget that people are HUMAN! For Wonder Mutt’s sake, if someone needs help, then stop and help! I think that’s something to be much more proud of than a medal, but that’s just me. 🙂

  2. I think that you have most of the etiquette covered, though I have one to add–don’t be THAT guy/gal that jumps in front of the cameras to get an extra shot of yourself running in front of the castle, character, Epcot ball (can’t seem to remember what the heck that thing is called right now). It’s rude, annoying and truly, if you care that much about a picture, then hop off course and get a photo to take a photo of you on your own. This last minute jumping in of photos is so dangerous (I almost ran someone over during the 10K for last year’s Dumbo) and just annoying (had a great shot ruined by a photo bomber).

  3. I actually ran my first race/half marathon in my race shirt (it was not cotton). But I agree that wearing it BEFORE the race is bad juju. I saw a girl walking through the parks the day before W&D wearing it and I commented (quietly) to my friends that it was bad juju. She apparently heard me and yelled something back at me that sounded like “it’s called being an American!” …ummm, ok., it’s STILL BAD JUJU!

    And yes, please don’t get mad at us slow folks. Just because we weren’t blessed with your amazing genetics, doesn’t mean that we aren’t working our butts off…unless we’re running/walking 10 across, then we deserve to get yelled at. Seriously. I saw on facebook someone posted a picture of a sign she wore on her back during a RunDisney race “Hi, I’m Olaf and I like Warm Hugs! …and walking breaks!” I thought that was an awesome way to give runners a heads up 🙂

    • DON’T MESS WITH THE JUJU. EVER. IT CAN BE CONTAGIOUS. And I don’t think most of us “normal” runners get upset with the walkers – or at least I hope not, as I’m one too a few times along the way. It’s when the whole road is blocked all the way across that it can become a breeding ground for twisted ankles and wrenched knees. And that is the one of the best signs EVER.

  4. Haha – you crack me up! Love the title of this post. These are all great tips. I’d also mention not to come to a halt directly in front of other runners/walkers; this happens so frequently at water stops. I understand if you want to walk, but don’t stop completely right in front of others that they’ll bump into you. At the stations, grab your water, pass the station, move to the side, and then stop to drink if you need. //@HeatherRuns13_1

  5. You’re hilarious! You always have the best way to describe and put things. This could have easily been a “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” post. But your comedic approach makes it seem like I’m reading a funny book. And that’s why I love reading your posts! 🙂

  6. Deodorant, people should wear deodorant and shower for that matter, first shower and then deodorant.
    There are plenty of athletes that when you see them on TV they look so clean and neat, but you have no clue how bad BO they have, it’s horrible to be caged between them when you are on the track.

    • Holy crikey I didn’t even think of that one! In the name of all that is holy USE THE DAMN DEODORANT. I’ll even buy it for you. a LOT of it. There’s nothing attractive about smelling “natural”. Trust me on this one. Plus in this lovely Florida heat and humdity, it’s just plain rude. We have enough trouble trying not to pass out on the course as it is, we don’t need any more help in that area. Honestly. We don’t. Got it covered.

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