It's shocking. You train months for a competition, only to have the event spoiled by rude racers who exhibit a variety of boorish behavior, from blocking your way by walking five abreast to tripping you with a sudden stop.
Miss Road Manners simply won't stand for it.
"There's an influx of new runners and walkers entering races today who do not understand the basics of race etiquette," says the running world's new manners maven, Freddi Carlip. Vice president of the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and a runner for more than 25 years, Carlip says longtime runners are becoming increasingly incensed over the rude behavior of racing novices.
"The RRCA has always welcomed new runners to our sport," she says. "But I've become concerned about the level of tension developing between new runners and more experienced runners." Road races have experienced a boom in popularity in recent years, with 2.3 million people completing five-kilometer races in 1997 and more than 400,000 finishing marathons in 1998. An increasing number of competitors are running slowly or walking in these events, often getting in the way of racers striving for fast times.
"My mission is to restore civility to the road-racing scene," asserts Carlip, who plans to lecture at running club meetings and race training groups. She also is launching a "Dear Miss Road Manners" column in the fall issue of the RRCA publication, FootNotes.
Carlip's new "rules of the race" are similar to the time-honored principles of the playground: share, be nice and clean up after yourself. While the players are bigger and their shoes more expensive, she says, road racers are basically kids at heart, out to have a good time.
In the interest of promoting an enjoyable race experience for everyone, Miss Road Manners offers these race etiquette tips:
* Line up according to how fast you plan to run or walk, with slower runners and walkers in the back of the group.
* Pay attention to--and follow--pre-race instructions.
* Run or walk no more than two abreast. If you're walking in a group, stay in the back of the pack.
* Move aside if someone behind you says, "Excuse me" or "Coming through."
* Never stop abruptly while on the course. (Miss Road Manners almost took a header when someone stopped in front of her in a race.) Always move to the side of the road to tie a shoe.
* Don't stop when you've crossed the finish line; keep moving to the end of the chute. Stay in the exact order in which you finished, since pushing ahead is tacky and unfair.
For more information on race etiquette, contact the RRCA at 703-836-0558 or visit the group's Web site, http://www.rrca.org.