Marathon season is in full swing and many runners are getting ready to run their first marathon. Knowing what to expect on race day can help prepare new runners for their big day and keep pre-race nerves down to minimum on race morning.
To ease confusion and foot traffic on race morning, make a plan to pick up your race packet at the expo. Remember to print off your registration confirmation and take it with your to packet pick up. Some race directors will even post bib numbers prior to pick up so that you can line up by bib number in the packet pick up line. If you plan to pick up your packet on race day, make sure you get there early. Not all races offer race packets on race day. This information will be posted on your registration.
Be sure to allow yourself enough time to use the restrooms before you get into your assigned corral. The lines get long rather quickly. Some races are so large that runners will wait almost 30 minutes just to use the facilities. Getting there early enough will make sure you’re not waiting as long.
Take note of your assigned corral. These corrals are based on pace and estimated finishing time. Stay in your assigned corral. Do not move up to a closer corral. Many race directors will disqualify you if they see you doing this. It is also courtesy to the other runners. The fastest runners will be in the first corral. The slowest runners or runners with strollers or dogs (if allowed by race director) will be towards the back. Placing yourself in the wrong corral can cause you to start out fast or too slow, and not have enough space to get to your race pace. If you are planning to run with a friend and your friend has a different corral assignment than you, you can both go to the corral that is the furthest assigned. Race directors never mind if you move back, but you may not move up closer.
During the race it is courteous to move to the right if you are going to either stop or take a walk break. This will make it easier for other runners to move past you without you having to worry about getting knocked over. Some races are very busy events with thousands of runners. Simply stopping in the middle of the road can be hazardous and rude. Your water stations are always to the right for this reason. If you are planning to use the aid station up ahead, go ahead and merge to the right so you can get your water, sports drink, energy gel, and leave. You do not want to spend too much time at the aid stations.
And lastly, remember to have fun. All runners have and share that common bond. Every finish line is worthy of celebration, a goal that you worked hard to achieve.
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