Running Etiquette: Don’t Be a Running Ruffian

ruffian – a scoundrel, rascal, or unprincipled, deceitful, brutal and unreliable person (Wiktionary)

Road races in the Philippines used to attract less than a few thousands of people, save for the Milo Marathon events which have always been blockbusters. But as running continues to boom and as race organizers continue to market not just to the fanatics but also to the casual and curious, the number of participants has also risen, making for some unique challenges.

Good manners and decency shouldn’t fall by the wayside when we race, and we shouldn’t start acting like undisciplined wild animals just because we unleash our animal energy when we run. Follow good running etiquette. Don’t be a running ruffian.

Here are some courtesies we can extend to each other before, during, and after a race to make it a more pleasurable, civilized experience for all concerned.

Take a bath and brush your teeth before you race.

All racers have to stand in very close quarters while waiting for gunstart. You can minimize unpleasant body odor by getting rid of the dirt, body oils and bacteria that start to smell when you perspire.

Position yourself at the starting area according to ability and expected finish time.

I’ve heard the excuse, “I want to stay in front because there are so many slow people in front of me who affect my PR!” However, if we all arranged ourselves according to our expected pace, this problem wouldn’t exist. The runners who expect to contend for the top prizes should be in front. Runners confident of a fast pace can position themselves behind the elites, while slow runners and those new to the distance can place themselves at the back of the pack. Of course, you need to be honest with yourself where you belong. With timing chip technology, everyone’s chip time is recorded and we can all attempt our PR’s without getting in other people’s way.

Respect the race marshals.

They serve a very important purpose: to keep race day activities moving smoothly. If they ask you to do something, it’s for good reason. Ask them for the reason if you want to, but in the end you should follow instructions.

Move to one side if you plan to slow down or stop.

If you feel you need to slow down or stop at any time, flash a look behind to the right and left, then move to the side to avoid getting hit from behind by someone attempting to maintain their pace. Think of it as if you were traveling on EDSA: you wouldn’t come to a sudden stop right in the middle of the road, would you? And humans don’t have rear brake lights.

Avoid running more than two abreast.

It’s perfectly fine to run with a buddy. However, occupying the whole lane with your barkada acts as a moving barrier to the runners behind you, which can prove quite frustrating if they want to move ahead of you. Now is also not the right time to HHWW (hold hands while walking/running).

Throw your used cups into trash bins, or aim for the gutter.

Let’s make clean-up easier by throwing our cups into trash bins. If those aren’t available, don’t drop your cup right where you’re running, especially if there’s still liquid in it. There are other runners using the road, so you should do your part to keep it free of rubbish. Throw your cup downwards and sideways to the gutter where the clean-up crew can get to it.

Be courteous.

A simple “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you” wouldn’t hurt.

Keep the finish area clear.

After you cross the finish line, continue moving forward because there will still be runners coming in behind you. You shouldn’t even be stopping to pose for photos at the finish area. If you want to wait for your friends, move to the spectators’ area.

Line up properly for post-race giveaways or activities.

If you’re annoyed at people who cut in line in front of you, think about how others would feel if you did the same. Even if no queueing system appears to exist, make the effort to ask where the end of the line is, and wait there.

Like in any other part of our lives, the Golden Rule applies in running races: Do unto others what you want to be done unto you.

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About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in wellness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

13 thoughts on “Running Etiquette: Don’t Be a Running Ruffian

  1. Dear Noelle:

    I so totally agree with you particularly on point number one. This is not only essential AT the starting but as one runs and overtakes or is overtaken by others. And catching that whiff of “bad breath” as runners pass you by can really be unpleasant.

    What’s your take about those who run without headphones and prefer to “broadcast” their music for others to hear. I find it rather annoying as well…



  2. Hi Noelle!

    Great post. I really agree with all you said especially the part on throwing used cups in the trash bin. I have never been in a race where the area after the hydration booths are litter-free. I find it a bit ironic especially if the proceeds of some races will go to the environment. Ho-hum. I think with discipline, races in our country will be better.

    No to Running Ruffians!

    Lizzie 🙂

  3. Don’t forget those who spit or blow their noses w/o even looking whether or not there are people just behind them or about to overtake. Apart from this, they should also take wind direction into consideration. I know this happens seldomly (thank God!) but nevertheless its still nasty and poor habit! 🙂

  4. “Position yourself at the starting area according to ability and expected finish time.”

    during kotr 2010, i was positioning myself at the 3rd row from the starting line when 2 women runners wont give way. they were actually making side comments and making “parinig” to me. they were shoving me and protecting their boobies from me when i try squeezing in when it’s the last thing in my mind (they’re really not pretty btw).

    after the race, i searched for their bib numbers in the race results. and where did i find them?

    bottom 95%

    lessons learned
    1. arrive early so you dont have a problem positioning yourself at the starting line
    2. most people will over estimate their skills
    3. most people will never follow the so called “rules”

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