Whether you’re running or racing, go at your own pace, in your own space. “It gets on my nerves when people sprint past you, and then stop and walk in front of you,” says Sharon Barac of Cranbourne in Victoria. Shari Cantell of Cabarita, New South Wales adds: “If you can pass and keep the pace, okay, but if not, you’re just making it a really unpleasant and dangerous experience for the rest of us.” Conversely, ask before you match strides. A “partner” joined Tricia Lee for the entire length of her very first race. “He kept bumping into me – for 21.1K.”
Fact: start lines get crowded, especially when ambitious (or impatient) runners and walkers start too far in front. “It really ticks me off when slow runners start at the front of the pack,” says Michael Sunderland on runnersworldonline.com.au. “I end up spending the first part of the race dodging and weaving to get around them.” Ivan Kacucic adds: “At Run 4 the Kids, I saw many participants starting in the wrong time zones. Do they think this will make them go faster?” If you find yourself slowing down, pull over to one side to let faster runners pass by.
“I’m all for people stopping to have a drink, but it annoys me when they just pull up suddenly and stop right in front of you,” says Stacey Morrison, of Victoria. “I had a runner cross right in front of me to get to one of the tables, forcing me to come to a near-abrupt stop,” says Rod Steadman. “After a sip or two, he did it again!” Doing a run-walk plan? Pull over to the side so you don’t hurt someone behind you.
Sharing is, in general an acceptable concept, but not one that extends to body odour. “After all the training and preparation you’ve put in, the last thing you want at the start line of a race is runners who smell like they’ve already run the race and not showered for three days,” says Sam on runnersworldonline.com.au. “I had one guy next to me for the first 3K of a race and his BO was so bad that I could hardly breathe.” And don’t go to the other extreme either. “I ran next to a guy who had slathered on Deep Heat like there was no tomorrow,” says Pat Agnello. “Phew-ee!” Unpleasant odours carry indoors, too. “I once got stuck on a treadmill next to a person who reeked of smoke,” says Carl Epperson. A general rule of thumb is wear a clean shirt and a splash of deodorant. Runners tend to be forgiving of bodily functions, but there’s a limit.
Yes, sometimes the fastest thing running is your nose. But if you try to clear your airways please, focus on your aim. “I’ve been splattered by spitters during many a race,” says Wendy Shulik. “It’s so gross!” Think of yourself like a driver, and before off-loading, take a quick sideways glance to make sure the path’s clear – and preferably direct your deposit on the kerb, not the middle of the race course. Also, watch where you toss your half-finished cup of water. “I have never had blisters so huge, thanks to the butterfingers who poured a cupful down the back of my legs during a race,” says Chris Sahs.
“It really annoys me when people find it necessary to take a dump and clog up the loos just before the start of the race,” says Sean Griffiths of Perth, Western Australia. “Can’t you do it at home?” While no-one can control when nature calls – especially before a race – everyone deserves a chance to use the loos, so be quick.
“The most annoying runners are those who are sure their way is the only way – no headphones, no loud talking, no this, no that,” says Susan Funk. “Better to see more people out and exercising than defining who is doing it ‘right’.” Cathy Cauzzort adds: “I don’t mind making room for someone faster or going around someone slower. After all, we are only in competition with ourselves. It’s not about winning – it’s about finishing what you start.”
Got something to say? Go directly to the people running the show. “Badly designed courses are my pet peeve,” says Sally Watkinson on runnersworldonline.com.au. “They lead to bottlenecks and make timing meaningless.” Adds Pippa Parker on runnersworldonline.com.au. “Courses that have multiple laps of the same track are annoying. It’s dull seeing the same scenery twice and it can be disheartening running past the finish line knowing you have to do it all again.” Race directors appreciate hearing what you have to say – the good and the bad – it helps them ensure the best possible course and race day experience for you.
Sure, chatting helps pass the time, but not everyone wants to eavesdrop. “I had to listen to three ladies discuss their bathroom schedules, and the impact of calcium on their you-know-what,” says Margaret Wilson. Other irritants: too-loud iPods, slapping footfalls, and beeping heart-rate monitors.
Or more specifically, the race course. “I can’t stand people dumping their unwanted bottles, wrappers, tissues and other crap at the side of the road miles away from any marshalling area – or worse, throwing it over a fence out of sight of the road, where there’s zero chance of anybody picking it up,” says Andy Letheren. “It’s hard enough getting permits for races without giving the locals an excuse to object.”Runner's World is the world's leading running magazine for the runner who wants to achieve their personal health, fitness and performance goals through the sport they love - running. You'll find everything you want to know about training, nutrition, health, motivation, race calendar, running hot spots and inspiring readers' stories. Subscribe at www.runnersworldonline.com.au