Road Runners Club of America

Growing the Running Community Since 1958

Etiquette For Runners

Whatever the race, whatever the pace, manners matter!
In the interest of promoting an enjoyable running and racing experience for everyone, the RRCA encourages good runners’ etiquette on course.

Group Run, Trail & Track Etiquette

  • Show up on time for a scheduled group run and bring your best attitude with you. Positivity is contagious.
  • Understand the purpose of the group run goals and distances so you can ensure it is the right fit for your training and social needs.
  • Sign-in, if that is a requirement, for the group run or training program session. This helps group leaders know who is participating in the day's training run.
  • Determine your pace-group before you get going. It's okay to speed up or slow down, but be mindful about what pace you will be most comfortable sustaining over the full distance of the route. Be mindful of runners behind you if you need to take a walk break.
  • Stick to the designated route outlined for the group run. Keep in mind, in most areas, you must run/walk on the sidewalk and not in the street if sidewalks are available.
  • Be engaged with the group. Leave the headphones at home. Provide encouragement to fellow runners. Be mindful about your language and conversation topics. Respect and follow the groups code of conduct.
  • Don’t run more than two abreast, especially on busy roads, sidewalks, or multi-use trails. The goal is to share the roads/trails, not hog them.

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  • Obey all traffic signs. NEVER assume a driver is going to stop for you at an intersection even if you have the right-of-way. Pay attention to your surroundings, especially if your group is running on the road. Run against traffic on the roads.

  • Follow the “ranger rules,” meaning leave no one behind for any reason (bathroom breaks, walk breaks, twisted ankle, shortness of breath, etc.). Use the buddy system.

  • Pay it forward. Volunteer to bring hydration supplies, to lead a pace group, to help with communications, and more efforts to help ensure the group runs are successful week after week

  • On multi-use trails, follow the rules of the road—travel on the right and pass on the left. Don’t run down the middle of the trail. Run to the right side to allow others to pass safely.

  • If you are running an out-and-back route on a trail, ensure the trail is clear of oncoming traffic (runners, cyclists, scooters, etc.) before making your u-turn.

  • Alert people when you are passing—don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings. A simple “on your left” warning will suffice.

  • When running on the track, respect the operating hours of the track. Pets, strollers, kid’s bikes/scooters, etc. are not appropriate to have on the track.

  • Slower runners/walkers should use the outside lanes and allow faster runners to run the inside lanes.

Tips for Being an Awesome Event Participant

  • FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE RACE OUTLINED ON THE RACE WEBSITE OR ENTRY FORM! _DSC0049Runners have a collec- tive responsibility to help ensure a safe event for all involved.
  • Educate yourself about the race course, the location of the start/finish areas, nearby parking, bathroom facilities, race number pick-up, and more. READ the emails sent by race organizers. Reviewing information in advance will help ensure your race day is a good day.
  • Before clicking the payment button, make sure all of the information provided on the registration form is correct, and that you have actually reviewed the waiver. Under- stand that most events will not provide a refund if the event is cancelled.

Race Day Etiquette

  • Prepare your race wear the night before, including pinning your number on the front of your shirt or shorts. Be sure your race number is visible on race morning for race officials and photographers.
  • Arrive to the start area early. Follow the signs and instruc- tions from vounteers, especially if the start and finish areas are in seperate locations.
  • Pay close attention to pre-race announcements over the PA system, especially if weather conditions are uncertain or if last minute changes have been made to the event for safety reasons. This is NOT the time to be blaring music in your headphones.
  • Use the facilities before the race to lessen the need on course. Keep the facilities clean for the person in line behind you.
  • Allow faster runners to line up first. The people at the front typicallly want to race the event. Help this group of runners out by starting behind them if your goal is to simply finish. Ideally, slower runners and walkers should line up towards the middle to back of the starting corral.
  • If your race has a seeded start time based on pace or bib numbers, respect your place in the starting corrals even if you have faster or slower friends starting in different corrals.
  • If you utilize a run/walk method on course, give a verbal ques or raise your hand to alert people behind that you are going to walk. Check behind you to make sure you won’t impede a participant if you shift to walking after running. Move to the side of the course for a walk phase.
  • Refrain from taking photos or videos as you cross the start/finish line, especially if there are hundreds or thousands of people behind you. No matter what, don’t come to a dead stop at the start or finish line to take a photo or start/stop your watch or training app.
  • If you drop something of value at the start of the race, wait until the majority of people have crossed the starting line before retrieving it. If you need to tie your shoe on course, move to the side or onto a sidewalk.
  • If you must shed layers of clothing, tie them around your waist or place them on the side of the road so no one will trip over it. If you drop it, don't expect to get it back.
  • Run or walk no more than two abreast! Don’t be a course hog if participating with a group. Be mindful that races with multiple distance may have faster runners approaching from behind if the event has staggered start times for different distances.
  • If you need to spit or blow your nose, move to the side of the road. No one wants to be on the receiving end of a snot-rocket or spit-shower. If nature calls, check for a port-a-potty or an open business. Do all you can to prevent relieving yourself in public while on course.
  • As much as possible, let faster runners pass you without blocking their effort, especially if they give a verbal ”on your right/left” warning as they pass.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. The course may or may not be closed to traffic. It is your responsibility to watch for oncoming traffic.
  • Yield the right of way to police and emergency vehicles. Yield the course to wheel chair athletes. You can change direction or stop more quickly then they can.
  • Assist people if you think they are having a medical emergency. Use your cell phone to call for help. Report an emergency on course to the nearest aid station.
  • When approaching an aid station to hydrate or refuel, move to the right and grab your fluid/nutritional from the volunteers or aid tables. Continue forward so you don't block the table or volunteers for the people behind you.
  • Throw your used cup away from the course, as close to an aid station or trash can as possible. Drop your cup down by your waist as opposed to tossing it over your shoulder.
  • Say thank you to the volunteers on course.
  • At the finish line, don’t stop moving! Run or walk past the timing mat and walk into the finishers area. Wait for friends and family outside of the finishers area to allow others to finish unimpeded.

More Tips for Being an Awesome Event Participant

  • Never give a false name or fake information when registering for an event. Never swap numbers with another runner, especially if you are looking for a qualifying time in another event. It is considered trespassing to swap or buy a race number without the race director's approval.
  • Races generally discourage running with headphones, pets, and jogging strollers. Respect and follow the race policies if these items are excluded in the event. It is okay to participate with a service animal, and the animal should be easily identifiable as a service animal while on course.
  • If you need accommodations as a challenged athlete to participate, review special requests with the race director well in advance of race day.
  • If day-of-registration and number pick-up is available, consider planning ahead and registering early to help the race director better plan participant numbers. If you register on race day, show up early!
  • Be prepared and trained to complete the distance you signed up to run or walk. Don’t cheat or cut the course.
  • Remember no event is perfect, and people work hard to make events safe and enjoyable for everyone. Volunteers primarily staff most events, but there is always a race director responsible for the event. If you have ideas for improvement, concerns, or complaints share them with the race director in a positive and productive manner, ideally via email or private message.

Post-Race Etiquette

  • Enjoy the post-race refreshments, but remember it is not an all-you-can-eat-buffet or next week’s groceries for you or your family and friends.
  • Stay around for the awards ceremony to cheer on the overall winners along with the age group winners. If you won an award, definately stay for the awards ceremony. After all, is about you!
  • If you feel you deserved an award, but your name was not announced, don't run on stage to debate the results with the announcer. Find a race official and discuss the discrepancy with them.
  • Be proud of your accomplishment, and let it motivate you to sign-up for your next race.
  • Be fair and thoughtful about post-race comments on social media or race review websites.
  • To sum it up, be respectful and considerate towards all participants, volunteers, and race officials, as everyone’s collective goal is to have a great race experience.

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