I think most of you probably know what to do at a race starting corral. There’s a few unwritten rules that most grasp naturally without any help from flow charts and powerpoint presentations. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to all of you other dummies out there. The adults who still collect beanie babies and laugh hysterically at Disney channel sitcoms. In other words, the idiots getting in my way – and everyone else’s way – but more importantly in my way.
The mechanics of a race start are pretty simple really. It shouldn’t cause such confusion and douchetardation. I was reminded how difficult this process is for some during my last 5k. I actually witnessed a minor assault and a physical threat within 5 seconds after the gun sounded.
There we were hoppin’ and boppin’ around with nervous energy at the start line. I was still checking myself out in my moisture wicking pocket mirror to make sure I looked fan-tastic. (note: I did, obvs.) I knew I’d finish in the 40-50 overall place range based on past experience so I stepped into the starting corrals with roughly 40 runners ahead of me. The gun sounds. The crowd surges forward. I’m whacked in the back by another runner causing me, in turn, to push into the runner in front of me. The guy next to me lunges forward. Or, at least, his torso did. His legs were still running directly next to me. The runner behind him gave him a hard WWF style forearm shiver to the middle of the back causing him to double over. The assailant passes his victim and tosses a “get out of the way of the 6 minute milers, dude” over his shoulder as he careens down the road. The injured party regains his posture and shouts back “hey asshole, I’ll see you at the finish and kick your ass.”
I knew there would be no ass kicking. The assaulted runner was clearly in the wrong starting group. He faded quickly and, most likely, absorbed a few more bruises and torso benders as the trailing 1500 runners slammed into him. The other guy would be in Gatorade nirvana and heading home before Dummy crossed the finish.
He was a 10 minute miler. At best. This is not a commentary on how fast you run a 5k. I think it’s great to see an ever growing number of folks participating in races just for the experience, just for fun, or simply for some social interaction. You can only do a 5k in 40 minutes? Wonderful! You are out there doing it which is more than most.
Just don’t stand at the front of the race pack.
Here’s some easy to remember Do’s and Don’ts in case you are a bit stupid and aren’t picking up on the unwritten rules.
- Arrive early.
- Discard warm-up gear and water bottles.
- Slot yourself with a pace appropriate group.
- Listen for gun. Run smoothly out of the chute just as your pre-race bowel movement did colon polyp free.
- Be someone else’s colon polyp. Do your best to start with the correct pace group.
- Get yourself trampled. If you are beginning runner or over 6 minute miler and you notice everyone around you wearing a high school racing singlet, you are about to be trampled. Fair warning.
- Form a human barrier. This is not an obstacle course. Do not stand shoulder to shoulder with your three running buddies until everyone has settled into pace. You might be chatting, laughing and having a grand ole time but, trust me, everyone else hates you and wants to knock one or more of you down by crashing through your human wall.
- Wait until the gun goes off before deciding to jettison the sweat shirts and water bottles.
- Refuse to hold my moisture wicking mirror so that I can’t go through my pre-race affirmations and flex posing. That’s just rude.
I tend to get a bit wordy so I’ll boil it down even further for you so there’s absolutely no confusion:
(1.) Don’t be a race clogging colon polyp.
(2.) Don’t get in my way (unless you are assigned to hold my mirror.)
I guess what I’m trying to say is:
(1.) Get out of my way or I’ll hit you in the back again.
Is that clearer?
Yes? Good. We shouldn’t have that trouble anymore. But, if you do, you know what to do. Get those forearms ready and strike early (and often). Then you better run like hell because, who knows, the person you hit might be a well trained negative splitter.