Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Racing Pet Peeves. Or, Get Off My Lawn

When I returned to a race for the first time in two years last week, it was to the massive UAE Kidney 10K.  over 7900 people finished, and so I imagine there were over 8000 people who started.  And it reminded me of a bunch of pet peeves I have about race day.  I once wrote a post about things to remember when you volunteer, so here is one about racing.  I don't want to sound like a grumpy guy, given what a great day it really was, but some annoyances.

1.  Headphones.  I mean really, come on.  On a spectacularly gorgeous day in Central Park, people have to listen to music to run?  Really?  Ok, putting that aside, in a crowd of 8,000 people, all running in an enclosed space, you are never more than 2 feet from someone.  Headphones are dangerous to the wearer and to me. Please, please, please leave them at home and enjoy the day.  Please.

2, Don't warm up in the registration/tshirt/baggage area.  I know this may seem like common sense, what with about 500 hundred people trying to figure out where to get their number, Tshirt, drop their bag, that people wouldn't be running or swinging legs or jumping up and down or what not, but it happens. Don't care if someone warms up, just don't do it in the middle of the crowd or race corral, ok?

3.  Go to the proper race corral, early, and don't cut.  The race corrals really help put people in right place -- not too fast or too slow.  And if someone signs up on the day of the race and gets stuck in the back -- too bad.  That is the breaks; if you want to be in a race corral, sign up early.  What that person should not do, is sneak into the race corral, and ignore the volunteers who catch you sneaking in, and try to fade into the crowd.  Its uncomfortable and really a downer.  Probably won't get arrested, but still it is the height of rudeness and incivility.

4.  Smile, relax, have fun.  I am not going to win the race and neither are you. First prize at this 10k was $25k.  I wasn't going to win.  And, unless you can beat Ryan Hall (and 10 other Olympians and NCAA champions), you aren't either.  (Hall finished 15th, btw).  So, have fun. smile, don't get all Johnny Serious and competitive on me (most of the game face types seem to be men.)  I mean its just ridiculous how wired people could get.  I was in the 2000 corral, meaning probably 1000 people were ahead of us. This isn't June 1944, and we are not landing on the beach in Normandy.  We are running in a race in Central Park on a beautiful morning.

5.  Run in the Designated Lane.  In Central Park, they allow the road race to take up about 75% of the road, so that bikers, other joggers, etc can use the other 25%, mostly going the opposite direction.  NYRR thoughtfully places orange cones every twenty yards or so to mark the course.  Of course it is less crowded outside the cones. But its also super dangerous given the bike traffic coming in the opposite direction that requires you to suddenly jump back inside .  And the volunteers repeat, like a mantra, stay inside the cones (One of my absolute race day credos is listen to the volunteers.  If you don't believe that, volunteer one day.) So please stay inside the cones so the bikers don't swerve close to us who are in the lane.

6.  If you want water, work way over to edge, don't suddenly dart over at last second.  The water stations are clearly marked, with signs about 200 yards before.  If a runner wants water, ease over in the flow.  Don't suddenly dart over.  If he can't ease over, wait for the next station.  This is a 6 mile race and probably water isn't absolutely necessary.  But if you want it, get it, just don't cut me off in a last second dash to a cup.

And get off my lawn.

Anything to add to the list?


  1. Hahah, I taught the Battle of Normandy twice today to my classes! Definitely laughed at that one.

    I get annoyed SO MUCH when the TP runs out at the bathrooms. That's more on the directors though, not the runners.

  2. I'm really with you on the music EXCEPT if it is a very very small race. I have done 3 halfs, 2 are huge and 1...not so much. I felt so alone at points that I wished I'd had music or something.

  3. I think you hit all of the points very well.

  4. All good points. Agree about headphones - they can be dangerous. The woman caught in the fire in WA apparently was wearing headphones.

    Agree re positioning at the start. If you're slow, don't start at the front of your corral, and if you're fast, don't start at the back. If you really want to attempt a PB, pick a smaller race!

  5. I love the "game face" description. So true! Lighten up, weekend warriors!

    And I'm guilty only of the water-station darting offense, so I'm feeling OK about my racing etiquette. I'll try to be better about that in the future. :^)


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