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When the coast is not clear

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RaceDay file photo

The course was hectic with the number of runners eyeing to finish the race, each has his or her own personal goal and motivation. Among the sea of athletes was Ferdz Hernandez, a veteran runner who’s now on his 8th marathon. At kilometer 26, he was keeping a steady pace of 5:45. Suddenly, the runner in front of him crouched to tie a loose shoe lace. Reacting in a split second, Ferdz lunged to the left to avoid a collision. Though he prevented a direct impact, his ankle took the brunt of the abrupt direction change. Ferdz was unable to finish the race and was later diagnosed with a fractured ankle.

We’ve heard a lot of similar stories before. While some resulted in just a bruised ego, others caused physical harm just like what happened to Ferdz.

With the continuous growth of the running and endurance sports community, ensuring safety on the course shouldn’t be just the responsibility of the organizers. Knowing and practising proper etiquette on training and racing should be second nature to us. Etiquette existed for a very valid reason: to avoid harm to ourselves and to others; and to ensure that we enjoy the sport that we love.

Various lists have been published on print and posted online before, but as long as mishaps like this happen, “rubbing it in” should never get old. Here are the basics to keep us reminded:

  • Slow runners stay on the right. It doesn’t mater if you think you are fast, if most runners pass you by, stay on the right side of the road.
  • Make your presence felt. When passing by a slower runner, say “passing left” or simply “excuse me”.
  • Get off the course when you need to fix or adjust something, e.g. tying a shoe lace.
  • Be mindful of fellow runners. You have no business blocking other runners whether intentional or not.
  • Two is enough. When running with a group, two persons side by side should be the maximum.
  • Secure everything. Ensure that your hydration bottles, gels, etc. are packed securely. You wouldn’t want to drop your fuel and you also don’t want someone to slip or trip on it along the way.
  • Refrain from taking selfies. If you really can’t help it, make sure that you do it on the side, off the course, without blocking the flow of runners. Better yet, just ask someone who’s not a participant to take your photos, while he/she stay off the course.
  • Wait until the coast is clear. If you dropped something, move to the side and wait until it is safe or when there are no incoming runners before retrieving it.
  • The hydration station is not a tambayan. If you need to catch your breath, move to the side after getting your drink. Don’t hinder other runners from getting theirs.
  • The finish line is not a photo studio. There usually is an official photographer to capture your moment of glory. So after having your moment at the finish line, don’t loiter in the area. Keep in mind that there are other participants who also want a decent photo of their finish without you photo bombing them.

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