Best Behavior: Race Day Etiquette Guide

This weekend was awesome! Amongst enjoying a lovely evening at Waterfire in Providence, a great night at a sweet Victorian B&B, an evening of Shakespeare on Boston Common, and some wonderful food to boot (best meal I’ve ever had at Gracie’s), we also ran Wipeout, Boston! It was a great time, and a full race recap is planned for later this week when photos have been released, but for now I’d like to talk about something I observed on the course: bad race etiquette.

There is definitely an unspoken code of conduct for runners, particularly when out on a packed course. Because this was a fun run rather than hypercompetitive (there was no chip timing, no division prizes, and no ranking system), there were a lot of novice runners out there. It was really great to see people who might not otherwise have tried a run going out on a limb with this one. I will never complain about beginners having a go at running! But for the sake of everyone’s good time, I’m going to take a moment to state a few good rules of thumb to follow on race day.

Obey Traffic Laws

It’s not a problem that some folks run slower than others; as I’ve said I’m a back-of-packer myself. Everyone should take a course at their own pace; particularly when the weather is as nasty as it was on Saturday (it was upwards of 85 degrees at times…. Yikes!). But if you are going to slow down, or if you need a walk break, make sure you’re pulling over to the right to let faster runners get past. This is also important if you’re doing the course with a large group; by all means hang out with your friends, but make sure that you’re clustering to one side so that you’re not “taking over” the road. Pay particular attention to this when the course narrows and there’s less space in general; make sure you’re leaving room for others to pass you.

If you do hear someone say something like “on your left”, that’s a polite way of being told to please squish over. Don’t be upset about it, just let the faster runner by as best (and expediently) as you can.

Guests aren’t Runners 

If you have a cheering squad, that’s awesome! But it’s important that only runners with bibs are on the course at any given time. While your family and friends might be tempted to walk with you for a short section, or hop on the course to take a picture with you at an important mile-marker, please remind them that the course only has limited space and other runners also need to use it. If you’d like to greet your family, duck over to the side and step off for a moment.

If there are snacks at the finish line, please remind your family that those snacks are for the

Always pull right before taking runselfies. Because you just don't want to be "that guy"

Always pull right before taking runselfies. Because you just don’t want to be “that guy”

runners. Bring other non-runner snacks, or go out for food together after you triumph. Often, these snacks are donated to the race and are finite in quantity. When they’re gone, they’re gone. What this means is that if the runners and their guests at the front of the pack finish all the snacks, the back-of-packers don’t get a chance to replenish themselves at the finish line. If you’re cheering squad REALLY wants to be part of your race experience, convince them to run with you! Then they also get all of the perks of being a runner, and you can take selfies together as you go.

Don’t Block the Aid Station 

When you finally hit that water station, you’re definitely yenning for some hydration! But so are the runners behind you. Rather than walk up to the table and monopolize the space, grab your cup from the volunteers, and continue on your way. If you do need to stop at an aid station for any reason, make sure you clear the table and tuck to the side before stopping. Standing directly in front of the table is disruptive to the flow of the race, and might keep others from getting their much-needed hydration.

Clean up 

If you, for any reason, need to “get rid” of something: trash, extra clothing, etc., find a way to keep the article on your person rather than dropping it on the course. Tuck empty gu packets in pockets, pouches, or waistbands. Tie unneeded sweats around your waist and keep running. Detritus on the course can create a huge trip hazard for other runners as well as a headache for race officials since these items now become their cleanup responsibility. Respect the volunteers, officials, and other runners and be self-sufficient out on the course. The world will thank you for it.

Finish Strong and Move On

 Yay, you’re at the finish line, you did it! But don’t come to a dead stop once the race photographer grabs your victory pic. Continue moving away from the finish chute and clear the finish area before you find a place to stop. This is an important step towards keeping crowds managed at the finish line, and making sure that all the runners get their triumphant victory finish without delay or interruption.

While some of these may sound like generally logical ways to behave in the circumstances, you’d be surprised at the things people do when they’re tired, adrenaline hyped, a bit dehydrated, and simply not thinking straight. Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.

Happy Running!


So I had a great time at the Comparative Drama Conference this weekend.  The ideas batted around were interesting, the company couldn’t be beat, and I managed to sneak off for a bit to visit the dolphins.

Over the course of the weekend, I also had a lot of time to do some thinking about my practices as a girl living in the digital era and how this relates to my job as an academic.

One of the highlights of the weekend was having the opportunity to live-tweet the keynote (a Q/A session with playwright Paula Vogel who, by the way, is the most charming,

Myself and my Tufts companions with keynote speaker Paula Vogel

intelligent, and wonderful lesbian playwright I’ve ever met) with a colleague of mine whom I had followed on twitter for a long time but never met before.  Through the beauty of hash tags, we managed to find each other.  This gave us the chance to discuss our experiences with the digital realm and how these experiences reverberate into our scholarship.

So there I was, buzzing with excitement about the twenty-first century and all the lovely things that it could offer us, when one of my Tufts compatriots mentioned that he felt that the practice of live tweeting was rude.

Now, it’s not that I haven’t given this notion some previous thought.  It occurs to me every time I sit down to class and open my netbook for notes.  There is some amount of trust implicit in the professor/student relationship that the students, all of whom are plugged in at this juncture to some degree, are paying attention, are taking notes, and are not spending the class period playing facebook games or checking their e-mail.

I have wondered at the boundaries of respect and net-etiquette for some time.  There are clearly some things that are okay, and clearly some things that are not okay, but what about the gray areas?  Live tweeting, after all, is just a form of note taking.  It’s a public archival project with the end result being to disseminate information to individuals who can’t be present at the place and time of the tweet, but who may want to somehow be a part of what is happening in the room.  What’s the difference between me typing a note in a word document and me typing a note on my twitter feed besides the public act that it entails?

I recognize that there are certain things which should not be tweeted (or facebooked, or blogged about…).  The digital age has served to do many things and one of them is to peel back layers of privacy nearly to the point of transparency.  The scary thing about this is it’s not just what one chooses to share about herself which creates her web presence, it’s also what other people share about her.  If someone chooses to tweet a conversation which we had presumably in private, there’s little I can do about it besides request that the offending tweets be removed.  And even then, by the time I notice that something may be wrong, there’s a good chance that a large contingency has already seen the offensive material.

So here are some lists of protocol which I follow for live-tweeting.  Please note: this is a work in progress and far from a perfect system (yet).  In the year to come, I will be working on an exciting project which will force me to constantly re-evaluate this criterion (more on my project as details firm up).  For now, though, here’s some good common sense advice to ensure that you keep yourself out of trouble while staying connected in the digital age.


*Cite your sources if you are quoting – use “@twitterID” if the individual is on twitter so that he may receive notification of your tweet.  If the individual is not on twitter, use a hash tag for better archival practice.

*Be true to the spirit of your source.  Since twitter only gives you 150 characters to express a sentiment, that sentiment can often get clipped into sound bytes.  Do not misrepresent your source simply because you ran out of room.

*Be aware that your source also has a web presence and be respectful of that – don’t tweet something you would feel uncomfortable sharing to a roomful of strangers even if that something is about someone else.

It is Inappropriate to…

*Tweet direct quotes from unpublished material.  Conferencing gives you a great inside look at what your colleagues are working on; don’t violate that trust by publishing their work before they get a chance to.  Yes, tweeting on the internet is a form of publication.

*Tweet something said in confidence.  This includes: something said behind a closed office door (without prior approval to share it), something remarked in passing which may or may not be appropriate outside of context, or something you read off a colleagues paper when asked for feedback about said piece.  Despite the digital revolution, boundaries still exist.  We need to be respectful of them lest the practice of tweeting be forever banished from serious conversation.

*Tweet while speaking one-on-one with someone at dinner, after a panel, or in the conference lounge.  This is just a matter of courtesy.  Eye contact is good for the soul.

*Tweet something if someone has specifically asked you not to.  As we progress into the digital revolution, we will see more and more integration of technology into all parts of our work.  We will also see people who aren’t entirely comfortable with this yet.  If someone requests that his panel be tweet-blind, you have to respect that.

Try to…

*Ask for permission whenever possible.  If you’re unsure, ask!  Wouldn’t you rather someone be flattered that you want to publicize her work than angry that you shared it without her knowledge?

*Sit at the back of the room if you plan to live-tweet.  People behind you may find your screen distracting, and the panelists may find it difficult to speak while looking at the top of your head.

That’s all the news for now.  I’m diving into some pretty work-intense weeks in this final swathe of the semester, but that just means that there will be more exciting updates in the days to come.  Now: more Strindberg.  Blergh.