Ask-A-Salty is back! It’s the feature where YOU ask the questions and WE give you the answers. If you have a question for us you can send it to us by clicking on “Ask-A-Salty” above the banner or by clicking here.
Our latest question comes from Meredith who asks:
When I race a 5k, I am definitely in the middle of the pack. At some point during the last mile, I start to see people running the wrong way on the course, numbers still on … I guess these are runners who have already finished and are cooling down?
But why do they have to do it on the course? Are they flaunting their faster times? Showing off? (Trying not to be ‘speedist‘ here but it is hard!) Or are they just looking for a friend? In which case, why can’t they just wait for said friend at the finish instead of taking up room on the course?
Can someone shed some light for me on why some runners need to run the race backwards while others are still running it forwards?
Ah, the old Reverse-Race-Course-Cool-Down question!
What are those crazy freaks doing when they’re running backwards along a race course before everyone is finished?
You were correct. Those runners running the course backwards are most likely cooling down (running easy after a hard effort to aid in recovery or to meet mileage quotas). I am admittedly one of those crazy freaks. Here’s why I like to do reverse race course cool-downs (RRCCDs):
– To cheer on slower friends.
– To cheer on all runners finishing up.
– To make the cool-down more fun and to take my mind off of how dead my legs are after racing.
– Because I am not sure where else to run in an unfamiliar area.
Reasons I don’t do it:
– To flaunt that I am faster than others.
I’m sure there is a mega-jerk here or there that uses a RRCCD to flaunt that s/he already finished, but the vast majority do not. In fact, as I indicated above, they are doing it to encourage others at best, or at worst just to make the cool-down go by more quickly. The intentions are not malicious. I often look forward to seeing my faster teammates and friends as I’m finishing a race. It motivates me to keep pushing.
I do think your assumption that RRCCDers are “flaunting” is speedist: you’re assuming that faster people are snobs and look down on slower runners. Most don’t. In fact, those people you think are fast are slow to others. It’s all relative and most runners, on the faster end, middle of the pack, or slower know this and accept it. Life is better with friends of all speeds, I say!
How to do a Reverse-Race-Course-Cool-Down without being a jerk.
Now that we’ve established what I believe are the benevolent motives of most RRCCDers, Meredith’s question touches on another important point: etiquette. RRCCDers should never ever negatively impact someone else’s race because of a lack of manners. Here are my rules for RRCCDs.
1. Stay out of the way of racers. Come on. Do I need to tell you this? If the course is narrow, stay off of it. Get on the sidewalk if you need to. Stay out of the way of the racers and definitely get out of the tangents! If a racer has to run around you, you’re doing it wrong (and are possibly a jerk).
2. Remove your number. If you keep your number on, you will confuse people. The old guy race volunteer will freak out when you go the wrong way. The other racers might wonder if they’re going the wrong way. It’s easy enough to do, so just unpin it and head on your way.
3. Cheer for people. If someone’s digging deep, give them some support. If someone’s really struggling, encourage them. Make yourself useful and have some fun.
4. Be nice. And never ever flaunt that you’re finished and the other racers are still running. That’s obnoxious and RUDE. Be nice and respectful of others. This is a good rule for all of your life, in fact!
So readers, what do you think? Are RRCCDs ok? Do you do them? Any other rules for performing an RRCCD politely?