Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Finish Line Etiquette?

Every so often some small controversy stirs up in the running community. It's small but big enough to either make one shake the head or froth at the mouth. A while back it had to do with the definition of a runner vs a jogger. The premise was that unless you could run at a certain pace you were a runner, slower and you were a jogger. This causes some consternation and comments. Most agreed that if you put on runners and headed out a door, you were a runner. Of course the best definition was the one that stated "Joggers are the ones that find the dead bodies".

Okay, so probably not true at all. I mean, who wants to find dead bodies.

I digress

It seems this had been silenced by the fact that being a runner means you run. It's not determined by pace, but determined by desire. How fast do you go, as the motivation poster says "4 minute mile, or 12 minute mile, it's still a mile." It is, this is what makes running such a great community. We all experience the same joys and challenges. Yes there are those who are in the category of elite, and those we look upon with awe and wonder. Just how do they make running those distances look effortless.

Another issue that seems now to be cropping up is some sort of changes to finish line etiquette. What is coming across is that some believe you should not pass anybody as you near the finish line. I belong to a group on Facebook called "Pathetic Runners", and someone brought this forward as a comment and a question. From what I've read, the sentiment is not shared by anybody in the group. In fact the opinion is straight on 100% opposed to this belief. One person even asked who told you this, the people you smoked?

I got just a few problems with this, the first and foremost, it is a race. It may be called a run, or a fun run, but if there's a clock then there's competition. Listen, I'm not that fast and most of the times I'm the one getting passed by the faster people, but every so often, the magic happens and I catch a person going up a hill, for an example that I know I can handle. I am not going to hold back, I will keep my pace going and run.

Also, the sprint at the end can be exciting. I shared a story of my experience. This happened a number of years ago at this little fun run. A simple little 5K, fundraiser type of event; I was approaching the finish line and there was a small group of about 3-4 to pass. I must have figured I could pass them because I picked up speed, I'm not sure how far but it was fairly close. So I pass them, then one person decided he couldn't let me do that, and he picked up speed, and I picked up speed, and he picked up speed. In other words, we were racing. I can remember thinking how I wasn't sure this was that smart of a thing to do, but did I stop? Nope, we kept up with each other and it was, in my thinking intense. We both crossed the finish line neck and neck. Must have been a tie and we both were bent over trying to put our lungs back into our chests. We shook hands and congratulated each other on the run.

That's why we sprint, because we are determined and it becomes even better if the person besides us decide they can sprint as well. Also most races have a clock at the finish and that becomes motivation. I did one race, I have the photo of me at the finish line and I'm looking like a total dork. The reason for this is simple to look at the photograph, it's a sub 30 minute time. This was going to be my first sub 30 in quite a number of years. I made a turn and saw the clock. I realized I could do it and I sprinted. I don't know if I passed anybody because that was not my goal, I wanted the time. I think that's probably true in a number of cases, we don't notice anyone else because we're looking at the clock.

There is a certain number of rules of etiquette for the finish line, the most important is to keep moving, don't simply stop because no one will see you and you will get hurt. Here are some of them:

Simple and straight-forward, don't let the banana man beat you.

I guess what I'm saying is this, when I hit the finish line I'm going to be using all the energy I have left. It's nothing to do with poor energy or race management, it's the fact I want to finish strong. A run represents hours of training in all sorts of weather and conditions. It's the fruition of the dedications that was needed. I will sprint, I will run fast and if I pass you, it is nothing personal. If you pass me, which is likely to be the norm at the end, I won't mutter anything under my breath about you, because I will be too busy concentrating on finishing the race. I might simply congratulate for your good run, if I see you.

If you wonder why you should finish strong and kick it up a notch, just watch:

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