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What Race Directors Wish Every Runner Knew
How to Have a Better 5K Race Experience

The Finish Line
Run between the finish flags, over the mats.

Register early, because you'll get the best deal. It's not uncommon for a race to charge as much as 30% less when you sign-up and pay at least a month in advance. Typically prices go up three times. Once when you're a couple weeks out, then the day before the run and finally the day of the race.

Register online before you leave your house. Races that use electronic chips to time you, generally leave their registration open online right up till the race starts. If you don't do it on your phone or your computer, you'll just be given a tablet and have to enter it when you get to the registration tent. Most races have gotten rid of paper forms and the errors they bring when someone has to retype your information into their system.

Understand that there is a real difference between being a RUNNER and a WALKER. If you sign up as a walker, you cannot run, jog, skip or hop. Walking is a serious sport and there are entirely different medals for it. As a general rule, walkers must keep one foot on the ground at all times. In most races, walkers that are spotted running or jogging are disqualified.

Runners have no restrictions on how you move, as long as it's under your own power, unassisted. Some race directors refer to runner bibs as “freedom bibs” because they pretty much let you do what you want.

Don't wait till race day to pick your bib and goodie bag up. There will almost always be a “packet pickup day” before the run. It's a time when you can get your bib, swag bag, t-shirts and other stuff without rushing. Even more importantly, some charities that give t-shirts with the registration hand them out on a first-come-first-served basis. If you didn't buy the shirt separately, the best way to try and get the size you want is by showing up for packet pickup. If you try and get things an hour before the race starts there's likely to be slim pickings.

Wear your bib in front, not on your back or your side. There are three simple reasons why.

  • First, timing people look for bibs to identify runners. If it's on your back they may not see it and realize you're in the race.
  • Second, many timing companies use video as a backup to glitches in timing systems. If it's on your back, they won't know who you are.
  • Third and most importantly, your time is determined by when the bib crosses the finish line. Worn in the front, it crosses sooner. In a competitive race, that small time difference can decide who's a winner and who's a loser.

Position yourself for the best start, based on your goals. Most races use something called a “gun start.” That means when the starting gun or horn goes off, EVERYBODY's time begins; even those of you at the back of the pack. If you're trying to be in the top ten, move to the front and get right on the start line. If you're not in the front, remember that you can always use some of that saved up energy later on to power past people.

Know where the finish line is. I've seen races where there's a chute of finish line flags and people still run AROUND them. If the race is using chips to time you, they don't know you've finished until your chip crosses the timing mat.

Look at the race timing clock when you finish, and make a mental note of your time. Then check the results as they're posted to make sure you're in them and that your time is correct.

Races that use chip timing often have an option when you sign-up, to have your results texted to you when you finish. Usually, you'll get that text in a minute or two. If there's a problem, let a race official know so they can correct it. Do it right away, because it's a lot harder to fix after the medals have been given out.

Take 30 seconds to notice the sponsors, they're the reason most races can happen. Sponsors help cover the costs for permits, insurance, police, medals, food, drinks, timing, tents, tables and the hundred other things every well-run race needs. Support the companies that support you because, without them, races would cost a LOT more to enter.

For a list of races in the Florida Keys visit these two websites:
Theme Runs

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