Etiquette Rules of the Road for Runners

Road Runners Club of America advises,

“Whether running in a group or running alone, always follow the RRCA Safety Guidelines.

Whatever the pace, wherever the race, manners matter.”

When you’re new to the world of running, race day can be overwhelming. You can find yourself standing at the starting line with literally hundreds of people, feeling an anxious energy and sometimes the need for a last minute bathroom break!

This photo was taken minutes before the start of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K on February 14, 2016

Knowing the rules of the road will calm your race day jitters and show that you are a courteous runner too! These etiquette tips work for training on the road as well.

Please click here for a complete list of rules from Road Runners Club of America. I’m highlighting 10 of my favorites.

  1. Run against traffic when running on the road.
  2. Don’t run down the middle of the road or trail; travel on the right and pass on the left.
  3. If you are running an out-and-back route, don’t make a sudden u-turn at your turn around point. You should stop, step to the right to allow oncoming traffic the opportunity to pass. Ensure the road or trail is clear of oncoming traffic (runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, etc.) then make your u-turn.
  4. Alert people when you are passing them. You should say, “on your left” as a friendly warning.
  5. At the starting line, line up according to how fast you plan to run or walk the event. Usually, there are pace marker signs showing a mile pace time such as “7-minute mile”, “8-minute mile”, etc. Move to the area according to your average mile time.
  6. If you need to tie your shoe or stop for any reason (phone call, blow your nose, etc) move to the side of the road and step off the course. TIP: double knot your shoe laces!
  7. If you drop something during the race, don’t stop and pick it up! Move to the right, wait until everyone has passed then retrieve it.
  8. If you are walking in a group, stay to the back of the pack and follow the “two abreast rule” which is no more than 2 people wide while walking on the road or trail.
  9. When approaching an aid station or water station, move to the right and grab your needs from the volunteers then continue forward away from the table. There will always be more than one volunteer so if the first volunteer is helping someone keep going further down the table to the next volunteer. Remember to keep the flow of traffic moving.
  10. Once you have crossed the finish line, keep moving forward until the end of the finish chute. Stay in finishing order if the event is not electronically timed so the finish line volunteers can remove the pull tags for scoring.

Bonus Rule: Have fun!

One response to “Etiquette Rules of the Road for Runners”

  1. These are great rules to follow when racing. I cannot stress enough how important it is before the race to line up in the corral according to your accurate pace.

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