If you are new to road racing, then here are some tips that can help you get through your first race.
Line up correctly. At the start of the race, it is important to line up by pace. Experienced runners should line up at the front near the starting line. Slower runners, walkers, children and strollers need to line up towards the back of the pack. This way everyone is safer and happier.
Dress for success. It is important to consider the weather when participating in a race. The standard is to dress ten-degrees cooler. If you plan to shed clothes, you will want to pin your bib number on your finishing layer. It is also important to wear socks and athletic shoes. Flip flops and sandals can cause blisters and give little arch support (this is particularly important if young children are running).
Arrive early. Pre-register if possible and arrive 45 – 60 minutes before the race start time (for a local race, some races you may need more time even if you are pre-registered). This will allow you time to park, and pick-up your race packet. You will need to pin your bib number on the FRONT of your shirt. Larger races use chip timing and include instructions on how to use it. Make sure you wear it in the race. Arriving early will give you time to use the bathroom (there is usually a line) and do a proper warm-up and stretching. You may want to review the route.
Be aware of those around you in the race. Be careful not to cut others off or trip them. Before stopping to drink water at a water stop, be sure you don’t slowdown or stop right in front of someone else. In a race it is okay to discard your water cup on the ground. Try to toss the cup with other cups – this will make it easier for clean-up. Be sure not to hit your neighbor or throw it on the running path.
Thank the Volunteers. Without volunteers there would be no race. Smile, wave, say ”thank you” to let them know you appreciate them. Try to volunteer at other races yourself when possible.
Clear the chute. When finishing a race it is important to stay in the same order that you crossed the finish line and to keep moving. The flagged area immediately following the finish line is called a “chute”. This area is designed to keep runners in finishing order. Stay right behind the person that finished in front of you until your bib tag is pulled (wear the bib number on the FRONT of your shirt). Staying in order and clearing the chute will assist the officials in assembling proper results to award prizes accurately. If you are using a chip then staying in order is not necessary and many races don’t require a bib number.
Smile and cheer. Remember – the most important thing about racing is doing YOUR best and finishing, not winning. Take a deep breath, relax, smile, and feel free to chat and enjoy yourself. When you have finished, stay and cheer for others. Stick around, enjoy the festivities, meet a few people, and have fun!
Here’s some answers to FAQ that might also be helpful.