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Top Tips for Considerate Athletes

I wrote this (well, most of it anyway) for publication in "Northern Runner" many years ago and much still holds true!

by John Schofield
Got any top tips of your own? Email them to me via the Contact Page and I'll add them to this page
Tip 1Ensure that your entry form is completed as illegibly as possible. This means that the Race Director and/or the results guy can have a good laugh, on the morning of the race, trying to decipher your scrawl, when they've nothing better to do. Also, if you belong to one club of several in a town, just mark the town name for the club. The organiser is bound to know which club you're in!
Tip 2Don't mark your sex/age/date of birth on the form. Reason? See 1 above. It adds a bit of interest to an otherwise mundane job as you try to calculate an age category or to remember whether Frances and Lesley are male or female. Or just put an initial for your first name and don't tell us your sex. We can work this out from your handwriting.
Tip 3Turn up with one minute to go before the 'off' and insist on holding everyone up while you run to the start line, then run back to registration to get some pins, then find someone to put your number on your back, then on your front. No-one minds a latecomer, especially if the rain is horizontal. After all, you're paying a premium for being a latecomer (maybe it should be 5 extra in the last 10 minutes....)
Tip 4Wear your number on your back, inside your shorts, on your other jumper (the one in your car boot), on the tracksuit you left with your wife at the start. You spoil all the fun if you just pin it on the front of your vest! Or wear it upside down, for a bit of variety. Especially good with numbers like 966, 161, 66 and so on. Some organisers spoil things, though, by printing stuff on the number in an effort to get you to wear it the right way up! But then, you could always fold up or cut off the silly printed bits and still get your number upside down......
Tip 5After crossing the finish line, ignore those pointless chaps in the yellow jackets shouting at you to stay in line and keep moving. What do they know?!!? You've just run a race, for goodness sake. They've just been idly standing around all morning. As soon as you've crossed the line, stand around yourself and have a good chat with your mates over the barrier. The results can easily be re-compiled after you've pointed out where everyone else came in behind you. Better still, just duck out of the funnel (see tip 8).
Tip 6Don't just get your race souvenir and wander off for your hotpot. Why not jog back out to meet your friends who still have to finish and then run back in with them. After all, the timekeepers will recognise you from the first time you finished and they wouldn't be daft enough to note you down again, would they?
Tip 7Alternatively, why bother to enter at all? Just put on your shorts and join in the fun. The event makes enough money anyway AND you get a free souvenir AND you didn't want to be on the results anyway (but you ran across the finish line just in case.....)
Tip 8Of course, if you don't want the souvenir you've paid for, just duck out under the funnel tape between the finish line and the number recorders. That way, you'll avoid the silly woman with the medals, mugs or whatever and it's a real hoot watching the faces in the results room when they try to work out where all the extra times have come from (it's usually the other way round, with more numbers than times, so you'll be correcting an imbalance, won't you?)
Tip 9So that you can get away quickly, find out where the results are being compiled. The chap in there won't mind a bit of a rest for a few minutes from typing in all those numbers. He'll happily stop to chat with you and let you know where you came and what your time was. He'll also enjoy a lengthy discussion about whether your time was recorded correctly. In fact, it would be an ideal opportunity to tell him that you actually finished several places ahead of where your number is on the sheet, because you stopped to have a chat or a stretch after the line. If you can't get to results, the timekeepers usually don't mind being interrogated while you stand over their shoulders or in front of them or whatever.
Tip 10At the prize-giving, it helps if you can wait until all the prizes have been distributed before you point out that your age category is wrong or that you ran in your wife's number and she had yours. But that should have been obvious to the marshals at the finish, shouldn't it? It's always easy to get prizes back.
Tip 11There's the main race and there's the fun run. You've entered one but you fancy doing the other instead. No problem - just pin your existing number on and do whichever you want. Even more entertaining if the race organiser has used the same type and range of numbers for both races!! (What a fool)
Tip 12Don't forget to forget the SAE requested - nothing we like better than addressing and making up our own envelopes and paying for postage out of the tight race budget! Oh, and don't forget that you don't really have to sign that cheque you're sending (if you remember to enclose it!). And you wouldn't be daft enough to sellotape your cheque to the entry form, would you?
Tip 13Isn't GPS a wonderful invention? Now you can plague the organiser before/during/after the race with how you dispute his distance(s) and that the course is really 250 metres long/short and that's spoilt your pb and you won't come back again next year because the course isn't accurate and anyway you didn't tell him there was a 50 metre climb at half way and ............... (yawn!) (Thanks for this one Vince!)
Tip 14Back to the SAE - if it's self adhesive, make sure you fold it back on itself so that it's well and truly stuck together and it has to be ripped apart to use it. "Stamp?" - that's the S in SAE! And actually writing your name and address on the envelope just takes all the fun out if it!
Tip 15Just so nothing gets lost, remember to staple EVERYTHING together when you send in your entry! Staple the cheque to the entry form, staple the entry form to the SAE (if you've remembered to enclose it) and then staple the flap down on your envelope so it goes right through the lot. Nothing better than unpicking staples in front of a roaring log fire on a winter's evening.....
Tip 16You're one of those few runners who plans their race diary in advance and enters races just as soon as the entry forms come out. The problem is that when you get your race numbers and information packs back, you pile them all together at home. On race morning it's a bit of a rush, and grab a number from the pile. Unfortunately the number you grab is next week's - at today's race it's the same as the number allocated to a LV60 runner ... (thanks for this one Bob!)
Tip 17And whilst we're looking at race numbers.... You keep all your old race numbers as souvenirs. Trouble is, you keep them in the same place as the races you've just entered. Now which is the number for this year's race? If only the race organiser had printed the year on the race numbers, but of course he didn't (what a fool) so that he could keep his costs (and your race entry fee) down by buying in bulk and using his stock over a year or two (and this one too, Bob!).
Tip 18All runners should expect mile or kilometre markers to be accurate to the inch, as all race organisers have the local authorities in the palms of their hands and can arrange for lamp-posts, street signs, trees and so on to be moved so that they are in just the right place for the signs to be affixed! Also they can arrange to have "Warning - mile marker coming soon" signs set out as well so that you don't miss the markers as you run past staring at your GPS! (thanks Steve!)
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