So you’ve signed up for your goal, tune-up or first race.
Now that registration is out of the way, there are a few things you keep in mind for race day in regards to rules and regulations. If you violate a race’s policies, you may face disqualification from the event and, in some cases, banned from participating in future editions.
Unclear of race rules? Check out the event’s FAQ page or policies to remind yourself of proper race day etiquette before the big day arrives.
Keep the non-essential equipment at home
Unless otherwise stated, most races don’t allow strollers and other running equipment. Canada Running Series, for example, says that “for the safety of all participants, baby carriers, skateboards, roller blades, Kangoo Jump shoes, animals and unauthorized bicycles and wheeled devices are not permitted in any of the Canada Running Series races. You will NOT be permitted to start the race.”
Stay in your assigned corral
In larger road races, the start area is divided into what are known as corrals, waves of runners seeded based on estimated finishing time or previous PB. This is done for the safety of everyone as faster runners take off first followed by the remainder of the field. This also means you will be running close to people of the same ability. Don’t try to sneak into another corral, even if it’s for a selfie.
Use the porta-potties
All that liquid you chugged on race morning? Make sure to use the designated restrooms. The sooner you arrive at the start line, the less stress you’ll have trying to scramble and wait in lines minutes before the race begins. Don’t urinate on the start line. There are often porta-potties located throughout the course if you find the need to go mid-race.
Follow the designated course
Not surprisingly, don’t cut the course, or you face disqualification. Follow traffic control and on-course signage. Run Ottawa, the organizers of the Ottawa Marathon, says “runners will be disqualified if they do not follow the course route. Participants may not use curbs, sidewalks, or grass surfaces, as they are not part of the measured course.”
Wear the bib on the front of your shirt and make it clearly visible. Don’t mark it. Don’t draw your name with a massive sharpie on it. The bib is meant to identify you to race officials and to medical personnel.
Run Ottawa’s policy is that “runners must wear their bib so that it is visible to marshals. Runners who fail to do so are subject to expulsion.” Another bib-related violation is carrying a timing chip on behalf of another runner to score them a finishing time, and in some cases, even a Boston Marathon qualifier.
Finish line area
It’s great when friends and family come to cheer runners on. That said, wait until you’re out of the finisher’s zone to greet them and don’t encourage them to come into the finish line chute. The Vancouver Marathon’s policy, like many other races, is that the finish line area is for “runners, staff and media only.”
Assistance on course
Receive on-course assistance (unless it’s from medical personnel) only at designated aid stations. Don’t have a friend/coach jump into the race to pace you. Some races have lead pacemakers pre-approved by race organizers as well as pace bunnies, official race participants running at designated paces. Pace bunnies hold signs with estimated finishing times. Also, do not accept refreshments outside of designated aid stations or you risk disqualification.
Ensure that headphones are allowed at the race. Most races in Canada permit the use of headphones but some race policies note that it’s “not recommended,” generally because it limits hearing instructions from race officials and medical personnel.