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Ten types of racers we see on every start line

First Half
Start line of the 2015 First Half Half Marathon in Vancouver, B.C. Photo: David Parker (race director).

Just as there are some stereotypical types of runners we all know and recognize, so too are there common types of racers we see at every race. Which one(s) can you relate to?

1) The road warrior

No matter the race, the place or the distance, these racers are always ready to toe the line. They’ve got more medals than they care to (or could possibly) count and have run every race in their city, possibly the province, as well as all the bucket-list events within 10,000 km.

2) The nervous Ned/Nelly

Racing can be stressful, but for some people it’s almost seems it’s too much to bear. These types will obsess over every aspect of race day–the weather, the course, what they eat, when–and readily share those details with any- and everyone who will listen. They often appear anxious, agitated and may show physical symptoms such as stomach issues, shaking. fidgeting and can be guaranteed to need to use the washroom every five minutes or so. Worst of all, they can inadvertently make us all feel uneasy also.

3) The social/group race team

Whether raising money for charity or just an opportunity to chat and laugh with a few friends, the social racers aren’t particularly concerned with setting PBs but would rather enjoy and celebrate the social atmosphere that comes with any running event. And they may or may not be wearing a costume.

4) The fade from the front (FFTF) type

Often young, bold and brash, these inexperienced racers go out hard at the start then inevitably fade before the finish. Let them go early and try to repress that smirk when you pass them later on.

5) The minimalist racer

No shirt, no shoes, no problem! Common in the trail running scene, these purists forgo the high-tech gizmos, gear and latest apparel and prefer a more basic and simple approach. Less concerned with pacing or performance, these types are there to enjoy the course, the scenery and the holistic experience that runner can offer.

6) The maximalist racer

Often sporting brand new apparel (possibly even with the tag still attached), the latest GPS watch (pre-programmed with frequent splits and alerts), heart rate monitor, a hydration belt and plenty of gels and chews, this runner is ready for anything and has the equipment to prove it.

7) Workout warriors

Some runners insist on winning the weekly workout and inevitably fall flat on race day. These chronic under-performers post and boast about their impressive training times but can’t seem to put it all together when it really counts.

8) The run club/crew 

Increasingly hip and popular are those who run and race as part of a run club and crew. They are fashionable, social-media savvy and enjoy having a great time with others. Don’t be fooled though, they train and race hard and are proud to share their accomplishments with their fellow crewmates.

9) The “It’s just a training run” type

Among the many excuses runners have for poor performances, few are more annoying (or condescending) than “it’s just a training run.” Those who don’t plan to race “all-out;” are coming back from injury; are under-trained or just not having a great day don’t need to excuse a slightly slower performance. It’s best to keep the excuses to yourself.

10) The elite/almost-elite

Making up a small minority at every race is the dozen or so potential runners aiming to win outright and collect prizes for top spots. These athletes are among the best in their city, country or possibly the world and make countless sacrifices trying to be the absolute best they can be. Humble, experienced and realistic regarding their expectations, these racers have put in the time and training and are ready to accomplish their race goals. They may appear shy and introverted but are simply transforming their pre-race nerves and anxiety into positive performance.