Miss Road Manners on Staying Safe on the Road and at the Race

By Miss Road Manners
aka Freddi Carlip

We need to do all we can to be safe when we run. The days are growing shorter.  Each season brings different challenges. We need to be mindful of good road manners. Miss Road Manners urged me to share her thoughts with you. Please study the following rules of the road and help Miss Road Manners by spreading the road-manners word.

RUNNING ON THE ROAD

Running safely on the road requires common sense. Miss RM continues to be baffled by runners who leave common sense at home when they hit the road.

And the “I am Runner; Hear Me Roar” method doesn’t work. If it’s runner vs. vehicle, the runner rarely wins. It’s not about winning anyway. It’s about being safe and being courteous.

It’s time once again for Miss Road Manners to remind runners exactly what common sense is. Take notes, please. Class is in session. It’s time for Miss Road Manners’ Rules of the Road

1. Runners need to be seen by drivers. Run against traffic and watch the oncoming traffic. If you’re running in a group, run in single file as cars approach, and do it quickly.

2. Night running requires wearing reflective, light-colored clothing. And that means at dusk and dawn, too.

3. No headphones…period. The only safe place to wear them is on a treadmill. Worried about being bored? Then tune in to your surroundings. You never know what you’ll hear.

4. Be extra mindful at intersections. Drivers are looking for oncoming cars, and may not realize you want to cross the street. Stopping for a light or traffic isn’t going to hurt your running. Being hit by a car, though, will certainly cause bodily harm and zero mileage.

5. Have ID with you. Be prepared for the unexpected (kids, loose dogs, fallen branches, cyclists, for example).

6. Move to the side if someone behind you says, “Excuse me” or “Coming through.” Yes, you are about to be passed and the person behind you is giving you a heads-up. It’s proper race etiquette to let that person through. And, if you are passing someone, please let them know, whether in a race, on the road, track, or trail. Say something like, “Excuse me; coming through on your left or right.” This gives runners a heads-up, which can prevent something dastardly from happening (being knocked down, scaring the heck out of the runner being passed, or being hit with flying snot, phlegm, or other bodily fluids).

AT THE STARTING LINE

1. Line up according to how fast you plan to run or walk. Slower runners and walkers should move to the back of the group. Always!

2. Pay attention to the pre-race instructions. What you hear will not only help guide you through the course but will also keep you safe. Examples are: stay on the right side of the road, or stay inside the traffic cones, or watch the course marshals (they control traffic to make your race a safe experience) for which way to go at major intersections.

3. Pin your race number on the front of your shirt. This is where it is most visible for race officials. It will also make it easier to pull the tag off at the end of the race. Miss Road Manners has been tempted to pull off errant race numbers. You don’t want to feel the pull of her white-gloved hand on your derriere, do you?

4. If you drop something just as the race starts, don’t stop and pick it up. You’ll endanger yourself and others. Trust that a race official will get it, or move to the side and wait until everyone has crossed the starting line and then retrieve it. Miss Road Manners waits till all of the runners have passed before she picks up the white glove she’s dropped at the start (after hordes of runners have left their footprints on said glove, it no longer qualifies as white; let’s call it grimy gray).

YOU’RE OFF!

1. Run or walk no more than two abreast. Other runners will want to get by you.  If you are walking in a group, stay in the back of the pack.

2. If you are stopping at an aid station, move all the way over to the table, grab water, and move away from the table so others may get water too. If you want to stop and drink, move to the side of the road, out of the way of other runners. If there’s a trash receptacle, by all means use it. If not, don’t go too far with your cup. The race volunteers will be collecting the cups and will appreciate not having to go on an extended “litter patrol.”

3. Even those of us who perspire instead of sweat may have to deal with bodily functions during the race. If you need to spit, move to the side of the road and do it there; same goes for throwing up. If nature calls, pull off the course and check for a port-a-potty or kind homeowner, or, as a last resort, a discreet clump of bushes. Even Miss Road Manners, who admits to sweating, has been known to spit, hurl, and heed the call of nature during a race.

4. Move to the side if someone behind you says, “Excuse me” or “Coming through.” Yes, you are about to be passed and the person behind you is giving you a heads up. It’s proper race etiquette to let that person through. And, if you are passing someone, please let them know, whether in a race, on the road, track, or trail. Say something like, “Excuse me; coming through on your left or right.” This gives runners a heads-up which can prevent something dastardly form happening (being knocked down, scaring the heck out of the runner being passed, or being hit with flying snot, phlegm, or other bodily fluids).

5. If you need to tie your shoe, snap a photo for your Instagram, or stop for any reason, please move to the side of the road. People coming up behind you are still moving and if you stop in front of them, the scene is set for a collision. Miss Road Manners almost took a header in a race when someone abruptly stopped in front of her. In addition to the bruises to her dignity, just think of what the fall would have done to her white gloves!

6. Feel free to shout words of encouragement to other runners. The other runners will appreciate your cheers. Miss Road Manners is confident you will hear encouraging words in return.

7. Pay attention to what is going on around you during the race. Just as in real life, expect the unexpected. Think loose dogs, lost kids, low branches, and looming potholes.

APPROACHING THE FINISH

1. Follow the instructions of the race officials at the finish.

2. Most races don’t allow your non-registered friends and relatives to run with you in a race. If, even though Miss Road Manners frowns on it, a friend is running the last few miles with you, and hasn’t officially entered the race, tell your friend NOT to cross the finish line. He/she should move off the race course before the finish.

3. Once you have crossed the finish line, don’t stop. Keep moving. Don’t stop just after you cross the finish mat; walk until you are out the finish area.

4.  Enjoy the post-race refreshments, but remember others want to enjoy the goodies too. Moderation is the key so there’s food for the last people finishing the race. Miss Road Manners asks that you not cut in front of her in the food line. She’s as hungry as you are and she has a temper that flares up mightily when she is starving. Be fair to the runners who have been patiently waiting in line.

5. Don’t forget to turn in the stub on your race bib if there are random prize drawings. You’ve got to enter to win. Listen for the announcements.

6. Please remember to thank the volunteers. You wouldn’t have a race to run if it wasn’t for them.

7. Post-race “critiques,” should you feel the need, should be sent via email a few days after the race, not verbally given to the race director at the finish line.

A FINAL REMINDER FROM MISS ROAD MANNERS:

Enjoy the race and have fun! And don’t forget to mind your race manners!

Send questions or comments to:
missroadmanners@gmail.com

Freddi Carlip, aka Miss Road Manners, was RRCA president from 2000-2004 and is the editor/publisher of Runner’s Gazette, America’s First Running Newspaper. Freddi created her alter ego, Miss RM, in 1999, at the request of RRCA President Don Kardong.



Categories: From Freddi

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