The answer is yes.
Do runners always abide by them?
I have seen my fair share of gracious runners in my time and as a long time runner, I like to reciprocate whenever possible. Whether that’s stopping mid-race to help someone who tripped (been there, done that myself so I can sympathize) or to apologize for bumping into someone at a crowded race start when everyone is vying for prime real estate on the course, I like to think that I’m a pretty easy runner to get along with on the roads. No shenanigans here.
However, in my last two races, I’ve seen some pretty, well, rude behavior.
During the Allstate 13.1 Marathon in Flushing Meadow Park on March 23rd is when I first realized that not every runner is aware of their surroundings and who is running alongside them. Let me preface this my saying that this particular race was a bit of a doosy. The massive headwinds and potholes on the course left much to be desired. I felt like I really had to work hard to come in just under two hours – that’s how debilitating the weather was that day. Nevertheless, I stopped to pick up a fellow runner when she fell and I was courteous at the water stops. I usually walk through the stops so it’s easier to drink and I dispose of my cup in either one of the designated bins or, very daintily, on the ground. For the first time, I was splashed, had someone else’s water sloshed onto me, and had to dodge flinging cups like they were oversized pieces of hail.
Then, this past weekend I ran a local four miler (very small) which I have run several times in the past. The race is pretty no frills but very well organized – a race I truly appreciate for what it is. While I wasn’t dodging paper cups this time, I was trying to shield myself from phlegm (not mine!) that was being wildly spit into the wind, only to find its way onto some part of my body. The offender, who I’ve never seen at a local race before, cleared his throat every 1/4 mile and hocked a big one each time. Yes, for a four mile race.
Maybe I’m particularly sensitive, but I find this type of behavior ridiculous. If you choose to grab water at a water stop, there’s no need to fling it across the crowd. Chances are, you’re not an Olympic shotputter. The same goes for coughing up your loogies (or snot rockets) every other step. There’s a time and a place for everything and if you need to do it (we all need to at some point), perhaps leaving the dramatic sound effects at the start line is the best option.
So, my question to you is – am I being too harsh? Too sensitive? Did I miss the etiquette boat somewhere? Have any of you experienced this?