A blog by runners. For runners.

Running and racing etiquette: your questions answered (part 1)

We asked WalkJogRun users what their burning running and racing etiquette questions were, and we got some great ones. Here are our answers in part one of the series. Have your own question? Ask it below!

Q: How should you go about spitting and clearing your nose around other runners?
A: Very carefully! Make sure no other runners are around you, and then do it as quickly and discreetly as possible. Or check out this video on how to blow the perfect “snot rocket”.

Q: Are there any rules for running and racing with a stroller?
A: Most races will post on their website if jogging strollers are allowed. If you don’t see this information, call or email the race director. In many races, runners with strollers will either get a few minutes head start or be asked to line up at the very back, behind all of the other runners. Some races even have stroller categories for placing.

When out running with a jogging stroller, follow the same rules you would for running safety. Stay close to the right side of the sidewalk so others can pass you easily. Check out these other stroller running tips.

Q: What is the proper etiquette for walking a race?
A: In general, most races will ask you to line up at the starting line according to pace — faster runners up front, slower runners towards the back, and walkers at the very back. If you’re walking with a group of friends, be mindful of the other racers around you. Don’t walk with three or four people across so that it’s difficult for others to pass you. Stick to one side of the course so others can get around you easily.

If you need to take a mid-race walk break, head over to one side of the road and look behind you before you stop. This can prevent mid-race collisions and frustrations.

Q: Is it ever OK to bandit a race?
A: The short answer: no! Banditing a race means running a race without a bib and without registering and paying the entry fee. This is never a good practice – and it can be downright dangerous. If you run a race without registering, race officials won’t know who you are if you get hurt. Race directors carefully plan a race based on the number of people running. The number of volunteers, cups of water, and aid stations are based on the number of expected participants. You may think one or two more runners is no big deal. But what if everyone thought that way? A race that budgeted for 5,000 runners could have upwards of 10,000 show up. Making race conditions unsafe and unenjoyable for everyone — including the runners who paid the registration fee.

Many runners say banditing is bad karma. And if you take a cup of Gatorade along the course, a post-race banana, or even accept a finisher’s medal, you’re officially stealing.

Q: Can you transfer a race bib to another runner?
A: That depends on the race. Some races allow transfers and deferments for a fee. If this is the case, then it’s OK to transfer your bib if you follow the race’s rules. However, if a race does not allow this, then don’t do it. Like banditing, it can be unsafe. Plus, if you transfer your bib to someone who is not in the same division as you, it could skew race results for everyone else.

Q. If you start a race with a friend, is there certain etiquette for one of you to bust out ahead, say a mile or two from the finish in a marathon?
A. Racing with friends is tricky. One of you could have a great race while the other is having a less than stellar experience. The one who is doing well could feel resentful if her friend holds her back, and the slower friend could end up feeling guilty about it. A good compromise is to start the race together, but agree to split up if you settle into different paces mid-race. Just make sure you agree on an approach from the beginning and no one’s feelings will get hurt.

Written by Jen Matz

Related: How to be a good spectator  | Training for your first 5K