What to do at a race

What to do at a Race

A guide to what to expect at a race.

Before the Race

Pin your race number to the front of your race vest (one pin per corner of race number). If you do not have a club vest, arrange to buy or borrow one well in advance of race. Wearing a club vest usually means you have more support on the course!

Make sure you allow plenty of time to find the race headquarters. Often there are long queues for parking, baggage and toilets so please arrive early. It is usually advisable to aim to arrive at the race 45-60 minutes before the race starts.

Do a gentle warm up before the race to get your muscles ready for ‘racing’. Usually a 10 minute very easy jog will be sufficient to warm up your muscles.

At the Start Line

It is your responsibility to make sure that you are at the start line on time, so please keep an eye on your watch or clock, and listen out for any announcements. Also be aware of how far the start line is from the Race Headquarters.

Line up at the start line approximately where you anticipate to finish in the race, near the front, in the middle, near the back.. Some races have pens or “time boards” which show a range of anticipated finish times. Stand level with or slightly behind the board showing the nearest time to your own anticipated time. For smaller races (such as FVS 5k) there will not be any ‘time boards’ at start, so you will need to estimate your starting position. If you are not sure where to line up ask other runners around you, their planned time.

Do not push and shove, some starts are a little crowded for a while. Once the race starts the runners will soon spread out.

Make sure you can hear and listen to any instructions given by an announcer at the start area. Earphones are banned in some races and you will be disqualified if caught wearing them. Check the rules carefully before entering a race. Midweek league, cross country, and any UKA licenced races on roads all disallow the wearing of earphones.

The race will be started with a whistle, a hooter or a gun depending on the venue. Try not to rush away too fast, think about your training, what you have been told by the club coaches and about the distance you are going to race.

During the Race

All road races will have marshals on the course, whose responsibility is to ensure the safety of runners, and that the runners follow the correct course. You will not get lost, as there are always plenty of marshals.

If you feel unwell, or are injured on the course, please inform the nearest race marshal and they can obtain medical assistance, or arrange transportation to the finish of the race, if necessary.

Most races have km or mile markers, throughout the course so you know how far you have ran/have left to run.

Be careful at any water or aid stations, be aware of those around you, do not rush to grab the first cup of water, suddenly stop or cut across the course at the station. Runners behind may not be stopping. Drop your cup or bottle in the provided receptacle or carry it to the next water station. Do not drop bottles in the road as they present a danger to the following runners.

Do not worry if you find yourself towards the back of the race. Many runners will have started too fast and will slow down, and even if you finish towards the back you will find that you have plenty of support and encouragement from all the race marshals.

Most races (and all FVS organized races) have a ‘race sweeper’ who cycles or runs behind the back runner. The race will not finish, or the course be packed up, until the ‘sweeper’ arrives at finish line. Remember, that someone has to finish last, and there is no shame in finishing last — you will still have achieved more than 80% of the population! Many of us have finished last in a race during our running careers!

Mid Week League and Cross Country

Run ACROSS the finish line, do not stop before the line. THEN walk briskly on through the finish funnel. This is the roped off area immediately after the finish line. Try not to stop and keep close up to the runner in front. There will be marshals urging you to keep moving and stay in line

Do not overtake the runner in front once you have crossed the finish line. Your race position is the moment you cross the finish line.

You must not leave the finish funnel before you reach the far end. If you do then your number will not be recorded and you will not be in the race results. No position and no time, a great shame after all your effort.

Your number and position will be noted at the end of the funnel by the Finish Recorders.

There will normally be a clock at the finish line, either on an overhead gantry or immediately alongside the finish line. Try to note your time as you cross the line but be aware of other runners around you.

Do not ask for your time at this point or even later when the timekeepers are finished writing down times. They do not have your individual time, (unless you won the race!). If you have a watch with a stop watch function you can take your own time.

Do not ask the Finish Recorders for your position. They will be very busy and you could cause them to make mistakes. This could mess up the results and ruin the race for everyone.

Results are normally published within 24 hours of the race and are published on the hosting Club’s website. In Spartan organised races the results are normally available within an hour of the finish and on the FVS website by the next day, often sooner.


This includes helpers of any kind e.g. Timekeepers, Finish Recorders, Marshalls, Starter etc.etc. Please remember that all these people are unpaid volunteers, and are often undertaking stressful, busy tasks to ensure that the races run as smoothly as possible. Please be calm and patient with them and treat them with respect. Remember without these unpaid helpers, who are giving up their own time, there would be no race!



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