Have you ever been baffled by the behaviour of a few runners at a marathon, so what qualifies as runners etiquette, asks Nandini Reddy

Many runners are simply unaware of proper etiquette when it comes to running in a large crowd on race day. Irrespective of the size of the marathon, following a code of conduct would help make the run more enjoyable to you and fellow runners. It is also important for your personal safety and the safety of other runners as well.

Here is a simple set of rules that you should consider following at your next race.

Pre- Race

Stand in the right corral – Corrals are assigned based on your pace and race managers assign this based on the details of you have submitted about your previous race. Trying to push you way forward and stand ahead of the line doesn’t help you or the other racers. Your bib will carry the corral number you are assigned to so making a change will cause a confusion before the race starts.

Leave your valuable behind – There are places to drop off your baggage at most big events. But carrying valuables and then troubling race officials is just not done. Tag your bags if you are leaving it in the assigned baggage area. Follow instructions to collect the same to avoid any issues at the finish of the race.

Warm-up – Find a place that is less crowded to do your stretches before the race. Be aware of the people around you  before you stretch and injure someone.

During the Race

Pass on the left – If your race day pace is at its peak and you need to pass runners then ensure you cross runners on their left. The first couple of kilometers on race day will be crowded so be prepared for a slower pace and once the crowd thins you can pick up pace and when you need to pass runners, cross from the left side.

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Mid-Race photos – Documenting your big race is a great idea but suddenly stopping dead in your tracks to snap a selfie isn’t. Be aware that there are runners moving at a particular pace behind you and your sudden stop might cause an accident to them. Instead of your coveted photo you might end up with a runner plowing into you and crashing your phone on the road.

Mind the Water stops – If you want to stop for water then move towards the side and slow your pace. If you want to skip the water station then stay towards the middle of the race so that you avoid running into the racers who are slowing down for a drink of water.

Do not litter – Ensure you dispose the water cups, electrolyte bottles and other waste in the assigned disposal areas. Be an environmentally conscious runner and carry your own bottle. If you have to still grab some water at the stations then ensure you dump the cups in the bins and not along the race route.

Be course familiar – All races release the race routes ahead of the big day. Try and get familiar with the start and finish points, turns in the race and a few landmarks that might help you track your progress. Many runners have missed crucial race markers and timing mats at key races and eventually lost making the cut because of this oversight.

Conscious Groups – Many runners are part of running clubs and most of them tend to run together even during a big race. Groups need to remember that they occupy the least amount of space along the course. There are other runners trying to get past who have a better pace and blocking their path isn’t good race day behaviour.

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After the race

Cross the finish line – Don’t stop at the finish line to catch you breath. Remember that there are runner behind you equally eager to cross the finish line. You might end up tripping a runner or getting plowed down to the ground by incoming runners. Cross the finish line and slow your pace and stop on the side at a safe distance.

Be orderly – Everyone is exhausted at the end of a big race. Remember to collect your medals. Do not cut the queues for using the bathrooms or collecting your snack/meal.

Always listen to the race marshals. They have more information about the course than you do and if there is a change or emergency they are the people who have the right information to assist you. Enjoy your race day by being aware of your own running space and that of others.



An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

One Response to Mind your Running Manners

  1. Harveen says:

    Shouldn’t The slow moving traffic be on left of the road and we overtake from the right?
    I always have had problems with crawlers blocking my way to meet and greet, take selfies, get teeth broken 😛

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