how to deal with crowds at races

Line Up Properly

Faster runners should line up at the front of the starting line, slower runners and walkers at the back. Some races have corrals based on estimated pace or post pace signs. If not, ask runners nearby about their anticipated pace; if it’s faster than yours, move further back. Most races use timing chips, so the time it takes you to reach the starting line won’t count in your final net time.

Get to the Race Start Early

Part of lining up properly also means getting there with plenty of time to spare. I’ll sometimes talk to runners who complain about getting stuck behind a huge group of walkers at the start. But then they’ll confess that they got to the race start right before the gun went off, so they didn’t have time to get a good spot. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the race start, especially if you need to pick up your race packet there and use the porta-potty. Head to the starting line and find a good spot for your pace.

Use Extra Caution at the Start

Even when you’ve lined up properly, crowds at the starts can be a real headache. I’ve seen a lot of falls, as runners stumble trying to pass slower runners, get jostled by the crowds, or trip over a water bottle or piece of clothing that someone discarded at the start. When you line up at a race start, make sure that you don’t get distracted by the excitement of the race. Pay close attention to other runners, and be on the lookout for discarded items. Avoid the temptation to jump up on a curb to get around slower runners – that can also lead to falls.