An etiquette guide for recreational runners – By Shelley Miller


In The Community

Safe running

Run against traffic if running on or alongside the road, staying as far to the right as possible. You will see oncoming vehicles and they will see you more easily. Wear bright and reflective clothing to make yourself visible, particularly in the dark. Stay alert when crossing streets and entrances. Stop at stop signs, and make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you before you cross the road. If they wave you across, give them a friendly smile—let them know you appreciate it!

If running on multi-use paths or trails, run in the direction of traffic, staying to the left of the trail. To pass another person, first check over your shoulder to make sure no one is coming up behind you.

On narrow trails, people running uphill should yield to the people running down. You do not want to be in the way of someone with gravity on her side.

If you are passing someone and they don’t appear to have noticed you coming p behind them, alert them before you pass by yelling “Passing”, “On your right” etc. And given them a wave as you go.

No dumping rubbish

If you can’t find a trash rubbish bin for your empty gel packets or bar wrappers carry them home. Also, if you need to relieve yourself and there are no public facilities, use discretion and find an appropriate place well off the track.


Dave Schaap giving the thumbs up

Leave no runner behind

If you see a fellow runner truly struggling, take a moment to check in with that person. Even if you don’t know them, ask, “How are you going?” They will most likely say they’re fine and wave you on, but if they’re injured, dehydrated or just exhausted, they may need a little help.

Say hello

Wave when you cross paths with another runner. Or nod. Or smile. Or give a thumbs-up. We’re all in it together.

Online behavior

Conduct yourself appropriately when using electronic communication to share information or when posting material on public websites.

TRR promotes responsible use of social media. The following guidelines may assist in determining appropriate behaviour:

  • Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.
  • For genuine issues use email or phone to discuss and resolve the issue rather than posting on social media.
  • Avoid posting inflammatory comments designed to provoke a response (trolling).
  • We strongly discourage personal attacks on organisations or individuals.
  • Recognise that even if posting to a private section of a social networking site comments can appear in public areas through a variety of means and can easily be found and shared.
  • Post genuine, constructive feedback in a neutral, calm tone and point out positives as well as negatives. Offer solutions rather than simply complaints.
  • Remember that social media sites are often visible to underage people – keep language appropriate.
  • When dealing with events recognise that many organisers do not have the resources to read all the comments posted on their site which can number in the hundreds. If you require a response to a question, use a direct message, email or phone.

Providing feedback

Remember no event is perfect and people work hard to make them safe and enjoyable. Most events are staffed primarily by volunteers, but there is always a race director or race committee that is responsible for an event. If you have ideas for improving an event or concerns you would like to address, share them with the race director or race committee in a positive and productive manner.

Before An Event

Inform yourself

Race organisers put a lot of effort into developing websites, entry forms, newsletters and social media sites. Read them before sending questions – more often than not the answer is already available to you.

Learn the rules

Events all provide the rules of participation on their entry forms and/or websites. By entering the event, you agree to abide by their rules. Familiarise yourself with them so you don’t risk disqualification or having your result voided. Rules are in place for the safety and enjoyment of all participants as a whole. If you are injured during the race and are found to be in breach of the race rules you may not be covered by the race insurance.

Don’t bandit a race

You didn’t pay for the race? You don’t get to run the race. Not only are you not covered by the race insurance but if the race is on a closed road you don’t actually have permission to be on the course.

Don’t use another runner’s bib

Not only does the race director not have your information if you get hurt, but you could also mess up the timing, ranking and awards system. You may end up winning an age or gender group you are not entitled to.

Think before you speak

No matter how good you think you are, there’s going to be someone better than you. So think twice before you comment on how someone is “only” running the 5k on the day you’re doing the full marathon. Everyone is equally deserving of respect.


Pre-register even if same day registration is offered. This will help ease the registration process for everyone involved. Collect your race pack before race day if you can.

On Race Day

Be prepared

Pin your race number on the front of your shirt/shorts. This is where it is most visible for photographers and race officials.

Arrive early for the event, especially if you are picking up your number on race day.

Use the facilities before the race start to lessen the need once on course, and help keep the facilities clean for person in line after you.

The start line


Start line – fast runners up the front (Mark Webber Run, Hobart 2013)


Nothing is more annoying than having to weave through dozens of runners in the first few kms of a race because slower runners chose to line up at the front of the field. Leave the front of the pack to the fast runners and keep out of their way.

Line up according to how fast you plan to run or walk the event. If you anticipate finishing in the middle or back of the field, line up there.

If the event has starting waves or corrals, use them honestly.

Pay attention to the pre-race instructions. This is not the time to be blaring your favourite song on your iPod or discussing race tactics with fellow participants.

Don’t bring pets

You may enjoy running with your dog but other competitors probably won’t. It’s tough enough navigating around other runners, let alone dogs. You also can’t be certain how your pet will handle the crowds. Most events ban pets because they pose a hazard to participants and themselves.

Look for events such as the Million Paws Walk if you want to include your furry friend.


Experienced pram-runner, Chris Dalton (…with experienced pram-rider, Summer Dalton).


Fun runs are a great way to introduce running to children. However prams can pose a significant hazard to other runners and vehicles on course. Unless you are an experienced runner with a jogging pram, line up at the back of the event.

Drink stations

Drink stations are usually several tables long so don’t feel compelled to approach the first table which is usually the busiest.

As you move towards the drink station, merge slowly towards it rather than darting across in front of other runners. Put your arm out so the attendant knows you want a cup. Say thanks!

Keep moving forward and throw the cup in or at least near the bin. This is a good place to also dispose of empty gel wrappers you may be carrying. Don’t throw half empty cups of water in front of other runners – wet shoes are not nice.

Be aware of your surroundings

Whether or not you are wearing headphones you must be aware of what is happening around you. Keep left, don’t swerve around runners without checking behind you and know that vehicles are on the course at all times.

It is increasingly common  and frustrating for emergency vehicles and lead vehicles to have to come to a complete stop during events because participants simply are not aware a vehicle is trying to pass them. Don’t be that person.

If someone in front of you is wearing headphones, and they are blocking you, gently touch their elbow or shoulder as you pass to alert them to your presence.

Spitting and snot

Sometimes you have to do it. But try not to hit anyone else. Check those around you before you let loose.

Walking/walk breaks

There’s no shame in slowing down, just work your way to the side first. Otherwise you could easily get knocked over by another runner.

If you plan to run-walk the entire race, stick to the edge of the course, where your pace changes will be less disruptive to other runners.

Thank the volunteers

Race volunteers turn up early, give hours of their own time freely, and end the day covered in other people’s sweat, water, electrolyte and worse. Events simply would not happen without volunteers. Say thanks at every opportunity. And smile!


Some events provide pace runners as a service. If there are no official pace runners, you may have a friend pace you as long as the friend has also entered and started the race. You cannot have someone jump in with 10km to go and help you to the finish line – doing so may risk disqualification in many events.

Don’t clog the finish

While you are expected to stop running at the finish line, it is important that you continue moving forward — at least at a slow walk — so that the finish area does not become bottle-necked. Catch up with friends and family in the general spectator area, not the finish chute. If you need medical assistance alert an official so you can be moved safely out of the chute.

If the event is electronically timed, be sure to return the timing tag/chip before leaving the finishers’ chute if necessary.


Stay around for the awards ceremony to cheer on the overall winners along with the age group winners. If you won an award, stay for the award ceremony. It is about you, after all.


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