Readers Roundtable: Chicked vs Dicked

male runner on female runner's shoulder
I know you’re there, dude.ย 

Have you ever been running along in a race and suddenly sensed a presence behind you that won’t leave? Maybe you speed up to shake the person, but to no avail. And just as you round the corner to the finish, the drafter sprints past you into the chute with not even so much as a “good job.”

How about the other way around: as you go to pass someone, they sense your presence and speed up for a few seconds only to slow back down. You try again, and again the person won’t let you. A minute later the person’s looking over their shoulder to see where you are. Finally, having enough, you go for it guns blazing and put the pedal to the medal and the person grunts, and huffs, and scowls trying to keep up with you.

Who did you picture in these scenarios? A woman or a man? We were wondering:

When it comes to passing etiquette, is it better to beย chicked orย dicked?

Whoย typically behaves better in the heat of competition, men or women?

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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26 comments

  1. I’ve definitely drafted people, in fact, I draft off as many people as I can, in virtually every race. I consider that part of racing, and a valid mental strategy to pushing through limits by simplifying some of the focus. I also tend to kick past them in the chute because well, I always think if you don’t run hard and finish hard, you didn’t leave it all on the race course. Now. With that said, I find almost no one in Switzerland finishes hard (at least back where I am in the pack), so it isn’t so much that I out sprint these people, rather than that they pace their way through the race and hold that pace the whole time. I also always make a point of thanking them either as I pass them, or immediately after the race. High fives for everyone.

    I do have a shirt that says ‘you just got chicked’ with an ironman logo on it. I like it a lot, and paid 6 francs for it. I will beat the man I did that half ironman race with eventually, the age gap alone will ensure it. And I will dance around in it. But thats more of a personal battle than an anti-male war.

    I do think that men are huffier about getting passed by women than women are by being passed by men (GIANT GENERALIZATION), just in my experience. I do know many men who aren’t bothered, but, if I had to say as a gender, They don’t like it when I do it in the pool, or on the road, or running. They do a lot of the speed up to try and keep up, OR, once I have passed them and they see I’m female suddenly they sprint off like the devil himself is there.

    I always find it a bit obnoxious when someone assumes I will be slower than my male training partners. I have taken up a lot of new sports lately, and simply don’t have the engine or experience they have. I am not slower on my bike because my ovaries got in the way, I am slower on my bike because I have logged 1000km in three months, not 10,000 over 3 years.

    Also, you just got dicked sounds dirty ;-)

  2. I had a guy and his friend seemingly intentionally box me in 2/3 into a recent half, which pissed me off. I wasn’t competing in any way (the entire course was covered in ice, and I was very much back in the 8:45ish pace crew trying to survive without tearing an ACL). I don’t know that I’ve ever given much thought to passing/drafting, likely because it rarely happens during races. If someone asked to work together, I don’t know how I’d react or what that would feel like. I’m more comfortable as a lone wolf in races, I think. Sometimes I’ll get the awkward training run scenario where you’re running the exact pace of a stranger in front of you and you both yo-yo for infinity until you die of social discomfort.

  3. I am not sure that runners who sit and kick in races are being rude. One of the key points of a race is to win. You get points for the place you come in, not whether the field happened to run PRs that day. If all you care about is pushing yourself to the max, why do you even need to be in an organized race to do that? And if you don’t like people around you trying to beat you, then a race probably isn’t the right setting for your run.

    Now with all of this being said, I personally wouldn’t try to outkick someone at the end — I am having fun just being there. I think it can be particularly tacky when an adult tries to outkick a child. But as a general matter, people are in races to compete with each other, and so I don’t begrudge someone who is trying to better their finishing place.

    At least in my experience, I haven’t seen a clear breakout by gender here. I think the significant majority of runners at weekend 5Ks, both men and women, are very relaxed about things (to overly generalize, I actually think guys care less about their appearance and fitness level than women do — i think that there are probably more “chillax speed” men than women in many fields). But the folks up at the front are pretty serious about it, and I usually see plenty of women up there — got the techno shades, compression sleeve thingys and all the rest of it. I am pretty sure they want to beat me. (I don’t mean me specifically, but rather the rest of the field in general.)

    One of the fiercest people I have ever been around in a road race was a woman named Nicole C. Small person, but all muscle — you could tell just by looking at her that she was good. I was in a 10 miler and caught up to her at mile 6. She sensed me there, and looked back at me. Man, what a scowl. She dropped the pace 20 seconds a mile and shook me off. After she put 30-40 meters on me she looked back again. Had shades on so you couldn’t see her eyes but look on her face basically said “you want to try that again, mf-er?” Um … no thanks. Maybe she was racing just to perform, but it sure felt like an outlet to compete to me.

    I always say nice race to the people around me in the chute. Whether they had a good race or didn’t run as well as they would have liked, we all share the gift together — need to appreciate just being healthy enough to do it and get over the finish line.

  4. So I’ve been thinking it seems, and I’m way generalizing here, that more men like to use racing as an outlet to compete – like aggressively go mano-a-mano with others and pretend he’s racing the Olympic 1500 or whatever and “beat” as many people as possible by any means possible! And then more women race to perform – meaning they don’t really care what others are doing, other than they don’t want to let the presence of someone else diminish her performance.

  5. I’m just not a “sit and kick” type person. And maybe that’s because I don’t have a great kick, or maybe because I’m impatient! But if I want to win, I’d rather make it a good race, and go for it when I feel confident, not wait for it to come down to the wire in sight of the finish line. And if someone is running a pace that I want to run, I run next to them, not right behind them.

    1. Yeah, I wouldn’t fare well in a sit and kick scenario! But it’s also … rude! I’ve never sandbagged a race and intentionally sat behind someone just to swoop in for the win. Any time I’ve passed someone near the end I had to work my way up there or I was running my race at a similar pace but at a reasonable distance behind the person I passed until I passed them.

  6. So……what if your goal is to win a race (vs. PR or run as fast as you are able). Why would you run off the front if your goal is to win and you don’t want to expend a ton of extra energy if you don’t have to? I totally agree that drafting off someone isn’t very sportsmanlike (like literally drafting, not just running near someone), but how about running with someone at “their pace” and then pushing for the win at the end? Is that okay? Just curious, as I haven’t really heard this aspect of racing/race strategy discussed before.

    I’ve definitely had the experience of a guy pacing behind me on like a 4 mile gravel hill and then passing when the going got easier, but I more thought it was funny than annoying.

    1. You can either lurk in the background – stay close enough in striking distance but not so close you’re drafting or work with the person. That’s how I’ve done it.

      1. Yeah. This seems like such nice, logical common sense.

        I think there is a question of what pace you need to be running for “drafting” to have an effect. I always think its just not possible that someone is legitimately drafting when I’m running 8-minute miles in a half marathon – they have just forgotten about whole concept of personal space! (this is in non-crowded races – in 40,000-runner mega races I’m more tolerant because pretty much everyone is too close to everyone else and there is not much to be done about it.)

      2. Agree. I’ll lurk a ways back, far enough that I think I’ll go un-noticed. I keep my eye on what’s happening behind me (shifty lurkers) and plan when to start making my move (X distance from the finish or when I sense a weakness I think I can exploit).

        This can be a fun game to play; but, as one who is usually out for some sort of personal performance goal, I’ve found it can feel kinda lousy – to know that I only did as much as I had to do.
        Of course, sometimes, it’s totally the right thing to do (such as taking a qualifying heat or race) and saving gas for a subsequent performance. And, it’s valuable to have practiced it for future use.

  7. It REALLY annoys me when other females do that to me. Either run with me, or pass me. I think that’s poor competition. To let someone else do the bulk of the work, and then use your conserved energy to outkick them? I would never draft off another woman. Instead, I’ll run next to them, and say something like “let’s work together.” Or throw in a little surge to pass and pull away from them so it’s not an awkward distance.
    It’s different for men, since technically we’re in different races. If a man drafts off me, I’ll think it’s a little pathetic, since physiologically he should be faster than me. So I’ll usually say something, like “want to take turns blocking the wind?” If he has trouble with me passing him, that motivates me even more, and I will yell a comment when I finally do pass him like “don’t let a girl pass you!” Or if he drafts and then outkicks me the final stretch, will congratulate him for drafting and outkicking a girl.
    I think drafting is fine if you talk about it or take turns, it can be helpful for both people just to have moral support out there (especially for longer longer races!). But to do it while being sneaky and then just trying to outkick the person at the end… that’s just poor form.

  8. Eh, I think it is really dependent on the individual person and have not noticed a real line by sex. I have been in both situations with people from either sex but it doesn’t really bother me. Everyone has their own way of competing and that is fine by me. I have learned my lesson that when I try to figure out what someone is thinking, I can def be wrong! I might be thinking what a d-bag a certain person is while racing bc they pulled “x” or “y” move and then in chatting with them after I realize I read the situation totally wrong. It’s usually bc someone was not really sure what to do in a situation and the awkwardness comes out as being a jerk, lol. I try to follow good racing ettiquette but none of us are perfect and i hope that others will give me some leeway if I act weird. I do, however, subscribe very much to the “good job, thanks” high five/hand shake after a race to someone that helped you out in one way or another during a race (maybe they motivated you, or pushed you or what have you).

  9. I have never had a woman draft me. I have had men do that, for entire races even (up to half-marathon), including my last race where the drafter half-stepped me at the end to beat me by a second. He then immediately turned, gave me a high-five, and thanked me profusely as it was his first half, then even apologized for the last-second pass. I was not irritated because I pr-ed and he was so nice about it. I sprint out the last 1/4-mile of races myself, I love to finish strong, and that edges people out at the last second. So I get that- it is a competition.

    Also, I LOVE chicking guys in races, particularly because it always plays out the same way: at the start of the race all the weekend warrior dudes go out way too fast and pass me, I just inwardly smile and think “I’ll see you in a mile or two, buddy” and then one by one I pick them off as the miles go by. I don’t tell them “good job” or anything when I go by because I don’t want to rub it in.

  10. I always think it’s annoying when people obviously speed up when you pass them when you’re out running for an easy, training run. In a race, anything goes and you do what you have to do. But what’s the point in being competitive when you’re just out on a regular run?

    Conversely, I just had a great experience along these lines during my most recent race. I kept flip-flopping with another woman running around the same pace as I was, so nearly 10 miles in as I drew up beside her to pass her again, I introduced myself and asked if she wanted to work together with me to finish the race. She did, and so for the last few miles we took turns leading and encouraging each other. We both finished with PRs. So, here’s a case where getting chicked actually worked out really well for both of us!

    1. Out on a regular ole run it’s definitely silly to me to purposely pass someone for no reason. BUT, if you’re doing a workout it can kind of come with the territory. I had a guy say something to me last year running in a park I used to frequent- he actually was like “hey I didn’t realize you were clearly doing a workout when you went past me, not just trying to show an old man up…nice job”.

      That’s great you were able to work well with another woman and both of you were successful! If there are people around me, I will sometimes ask if they wanna work together if goals are similar- that has worked well for me in the past…even at the half I did as a workout recently ended up running with 2 guys almost the entire race!

    2. That’s how it should go, in my opinion! I always try to work with someone in that situation and the only time I don’t is if someone rebuffs my suggestion. I love you both got PRs!

  11. It’s a race, so obviously, do what you have to to win, etc. However, if you are using me the entire race to pace you and then all of a sudden sprint past at the finish – it is obnoxious. It happened to me once where some guy pretty much came out of nowhere to sprint past me at the finish (I’m a woman, so it didn’t impact my place, although I like to race the guys too haha) – and then didn’t even stick around to say good race. Again, it’s a competition so it’s expected, but I often am racing against men at the end of races, and everytime, whether I managed to pass them or not – we have congratulated each other at the finish line. It’s just common courtesy (which I find the majority of runners are very nice people).

    1. Yeah. I think the point is that there is a line where, even in the heat of competition, we need to be decent people. Like I said above, we’re all grown-ups and while we take it seriously it’s a hobby we do for fun. What’s the point in being an a-hole? It’s not worth it to get a plastic trophy.

  12. From my experience I think men are more guilty of the later. They will try and speed up when you try and pass them then back off, and repeat every time you try. They think they can shake you if they throw in some surges and get more frustrated as you keep coming back each time. I’d put women as more likely to sit and wait then push at finish line to pass. I know that each gender is guilty of both though, I mean… I know I have done both before. Oddly, I think that both genders are more likely to try and stop women from passing though.

    1. I’ve never drafted off of anyone, but I’ve been drafted off of. I’m more of a lurker a few seconds back :) Most women I’ve raced closely with we’ve either worked together or it was more happenstance that we were really close. I actually met a really good friend after she drafted off of me! She apologized after and the rest is history! I think men are more likely to go down screaming when you pass them, but even that’s a slim minority; most guys seem fine with treating women like any other competitor … unless you’re obviously pregnant or pushing a stroller and then even the most civil male competitor will hate you for passing him! HA!

      1. I so love passing guys while pushing the stroller, I admit it. I think I wear running skirts so much for the same reason. Giving a finger to the patriarchy, or something.

        1. Also, how often have you stroller runners encountered someone who assumed they could take you only to be shocked that they either couldn’t or you actually made them work for it. #strollerism

    2. I agree about the stroller thing! I have seen guys who clearly spent their whole lives jogging along contentedly, suddenly morph into usain bolt after being passed by me with the stroller.

      Both guys and women can do the refuse-to-let-you-pass thing. I’ve only ever experienced a guy coming up to me afterwards and thank me for the great view from behind though :/

  13. it’s not poor behavior. It’s just competition. The only answer is to run faster. Although… one should always congratulate the runners who finish in front of, and behind them, after crossing the line.

    1. See I don’t know if that’s cool. In some local whatever 5k it’s fine to be a smug a-hole to people who ran their best but ran three seconds slower than you? “Shoulda run faster, loser.” I mean … in 10th grade maybe or, you know, the Olympics, but for the average race most of us are running I can’t get behind that.

      1. I might say “good run” or something like that if I spent the whole race running with the same group of people. But congratulating? Idk. Probably not.