Friday, March 30, 2012

CCC10K: You’re Not Alone

It’s one week from the starting gun of the Crescent City Classic 10K, and many veteran runners are lacing up their shoes for final tune up runs before they take off. However, this premiere road race of New Orleans annually brings out numerous first time race runners looking to cross the finish line. With the excitement of running their first race also comes the lack of experience of running with thousands on the narrow roads of the French Quarter, Downtown, and Mid City. First-time runners are what make races like the Crescent City Classic successful and ever-thriving, but certain “rules of the road” should be followed to make it an enjoyable for everyone participating.

The Road Runners Club of America has an extensive guideline of proper etiquette for running in races and events like the CCC10K. They are not only intended for the safety of you as a runner, but for the runners around you and the spectators alike. A full list of the “rules” can be found HERE, but several come to mind when thinking back on experiences of Crescent City Classics past.

The point that the RRCA makes, stating that “Races generally discourage running with dogs, headphones, cell phones, and jogging strollers” is by far the most relevant to the CCC10K participants. They go on to state, “Line up according to how fast you plan to run or walk the event. Slower runners and walkers should move to the back of the race pack. Just because you arrived early does not mean you should be at the front of the starting line.” While race organizers allow and encourage an all-inclusive party-like atmosphere, previous races have seen strollers, wagons, and walkers in some of the faster starting corrals. I personally love to see the family participation in the event, but stroller and wagons should start at the back of the pack to avoid rolling over or hindering the path of runners who are out to get the best time possible.

Also, walkers make it difficult to dodge from side to side of the street and can be trampled by faster runners. CCC10K runner’s bibs/numbers are color-coded based on the estimated time it will take to finish the race. Lining up with runners with the same bib color in the correct corral coinciding with that color is important and helps ensure the safety of everyone participating.

The Road Runners Club of American also makes a valid point for participants to “Arrive early for the event... Check your registration information carefully, especially if you are racing for an award or prize money.” With the Crescent City Classic, all runners are provided with a D-Tag timing chip on their bib / number. It should be attached to the runner’s shoe prior to the start of the race. It will give runners accurate timing of their finish, and will qualify faster runners for overall, age group, and Top-500 Poster awards. (Sidenote: The CCC facebook page announced this morning that posters for the first 500 finishers should be picked up day of race on the festival grounds. They will not be mailed as in previous years.) Regardless of finishing first or last, all participants need to utilize the timing chips properly to get finishing times for bragging rights. It’s the best way to prove to your coworkers “Yeah, I did it. Look up my time online.”

Once the race has started and you’re on your way to the finish, the Road Runners Club of America outlines the following as proper etiquette on-course:

-          If you drop something as the race starts, don’t stop and pick it up! Wait until almost everyone has crossed the starting line; then retrieve it.

-          Don’t drop clothing on the course after you warm-up. If you must shed layers of clothing, tie them around your waist or place them on the side of the road where no one will trip over them. If you drop it, don’t expect to get it back.

-          Run or walk no more than two abreast.

-          Do not block runners coming up behind you by swerving needlessly back and forth across the course.

-          If you are walking in a group, stay to the back of the pack and follow the two abreast rule.

-          Bodily functions are a fact of life during a race. If you need to spit, blow your nose or throw-up, move to the side of the road and do it there. If nature calls, check for a port-a-potty, an open business, a kind neighbor along the course, or as a last resort, a discreet clump of bushes before relieving yourself.

-          Move to the side if someone behind you says “excuse me” or “on your right/left.” The person behind you is giving you a heads up before passing. It’s proper race etiquette to let that person pass you without blocking their effort.

-          If someone in front of you is wearing headphones, and they are blocking, gently touch their elbow or shoulder as you pass to alert them to your presence.

-           If you need to tie your shoe or stop for any reason (phone call, nose blow, etc.) move to the side of the road and step off the course.

-          Pay attention to your surroundings. The course may or may not be closed to traffic. It is your responsibility to watch for oncoming traffic!

-          Yield the right of way to all police and emergency vehicles. Yield the course to wheel chair athletes, you can change direction or stop more quickly than they can, especially on a downhill.

-          Don’t cheat! Don’t cut the course or run with someone else’s number.

As always, the most important rule to follow is to have fun. This is something you’ve trained hard for, and it’s an event to be enjoyed. Following the above as a guide to having an exceptional experience will make for a great day for not just yourself, but every participant around you. Remember, when you’re at the Crescent City Classic 10K, you’re not out there alone.

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