by Tom Mangan, Asheville Marathon Ambassador
You already know to hydrate, not to go out too fast, not to overdress, and to trust your training. Here are a few additional suggestions to ensure an enjoyable race day experience for all.
1. Read the info on ashevillemarathon.com as well as the race guide for your respective race before asking questions. ashevillemarathon.com/race-info. 99% of the questions runners have are already answered there.
2. First thing to do when you arrive at Biltmore Estate is to go through your stuff and make sure you have everything. Many people bring extra gear. At 6:15, there’s still time to scrounge up almost anything. At 7:15, you’re screwed.
3. Don’t be in a hurry to cross the starting line. Savor the moment. For many runners, getting to and crossing the starting line is more difficult than crossing the finish line.
4. Unless you’re going for a PR or BQ, slow down for a bit to say hi to your family and friends when you see them. They waited all that time, give them a sweaty hug and take a quick pic. And say thanks.
5. Thank as many of the volunteers/police/medical/staff as possible. Many of them will be out there longer than most runners and will move from station to station throughout the day. Then they’ll go back to work.
6. No one is “just” a volunteer. Your race doesn’t happen without them. You need them way more than they need you. Perspective.
7. Enjoy the food and drinks along the course and at the finish, but please don’t treat it as an all-you-can-eat buffet, go “grocery shopping,” or give items to non-runners. Sure, your kid is hungry, but your kid didn’t run the marathon. The last finisher should have the same opportunity for post-race refreshments as the first finisher.
8. Offer members of the pace team head-of-the-line privileges at the porta-johns during the race, whenever possible.
9. Observe the rules, follow instructions from race crew and safety officials, and accept that the rules apply to you as well. Please don’t give the officials and volunteers a hard time. They are there for your benefit and would rather be home sleeping in. Without their support, the race doesn’t take place.
10. Arrive early so you can relax, stretch, and sit down. Don’t stand the entire time you’re waiting only to start the race on tired legs. Better to wait at the start than sit in traffic.
11. Go to the porta-john then get back in line. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
12. Don’t be one of those runners who pushes to the front of the corral. If it’s that important for you to be up front, get there early.
13. Stretch before you enter the corrals. It’s too crowded to stretch in the corral.
14. Know and respect the race cutoffs. Don’t complain if you miss them.
15. Run with your friends and have a great time, but please don’t run side-by-side on the narrow parts of the course. Remember, someone may be trying to get past you.
16. Carry your ID with you.
17. If you listen to music during the race, do yourself a favor and keep it off for the first 7 miles. The race atmosphere is electric, and you don’t want to miss that experience. Take it all in before you get into your zone.
18. Keep your music low enough so you can hear when other runners or emergency personnel are approaching from behind.
19. The course markings are more accurate than your GPS. Use your GPS only as a guide. Your GPS will probably read something like 26.5 – 27.1. The course isn’t long; your GPS isn’t as accurate as you’d like to believe, and you’re going to weave a lot more than you think. In a race with as many twists and turns as Asheville, you’re not going to hit all the tangents.
20. Turn off the sound on your GPS and use vibrate mode. No one other than you needs to hear an update from your GPS. And if you want to see the discrepancy between GPS units and course markings, listen for the chorus of beeps from GPS units 1/4 mile before to 1/4 mile after each mile marker.
21. If you have a great run, be sure to celebrate. If your run doesn’t go as planned, save it ’til you get home. Don’t bring down someone else’s experience because your race might not have gone the way you would have liked.
22. Keep in mind the pacer’s time will likely be different than yours. Unless you cross the starting line at the same time, you may be ahead or behind the pacer’s chip time. Don’t miss your sub-4 marathon because the pacer finished at 3:59:53 and you crossed the starting line timing mat 12 seconds before the pacer and finished with a 4:00:05. Know the pacer’s offset.
23. Speaking of offsets, start a timer on your phone or watch once the race has started and note how long it takes you to cross the starting line. That will come in handy whenever you see a race clock along the course.
24. Don’t tell the pacer he/she is too fast or too slow. They’re basing their pace on elapsed time at mile markers, not when your GPS beeps.
25. “Nothing new on race day” is probably the most overhyped piece of advice.
26. Wear your bib on the front. It’s not just for pictures; it’s for security, safety, and accountability. And it’s critical for the announcer to see to announce your finish as you cross the finish line.
27. Remember to pick up your extra bling if you’re part of the Backyard to Vineyard Challenge or Backyard to Backyard Challenge. Consider bringing your medal from Saturday with you on Sunday so you have it with you for post-race pictures.
28. Leave the drama at home. Leave the drama at home. Leave the drama at home.
29. Don’t be the runner who is walking along and talking on the phone.
30. Don’t complain about the traffic when you’re trying to get to the expo or leaving the race. You’re the reason for the traffic.
31. As much as it is big deal for you to finish, remember you wouldn’t have gotten there without your family and friends. A sincere “thank you” goes a long way.
32. As slow as you feel you may be going, there is only one runner on the course who doesn’t have another runner behind him/her.
33. Nobody is impressed by the “I didn’t train and still ran a x:xx race” comments, especially those who’ve trained their butts off to just squeak by and finish the race.
34. Instead of asking other runners what their finish time was, ask instead how they enjoyed the race or what they liked most about the experience. If they want you to know their time, don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
35. Have fun. Be sure to look around at the sea of humanity and take it all in. It’s really quite impressive.
36. Ring the PR bell if you’ve earned it.
37. Sign up for the 2021 Asheville Marathon.
Tom is a seasoned runner and an Asheville Marathon Ambassador. Read his bio here.