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Gotta’ Run: Don’t even think about doing these things at your next race

Runners and walkers are nice people, almost always. But once in a while, one of them will forget their ethics and manners. After participation as a runner or volunteer in 1,500 races over 44 years, I thought I had seen it all and sometimes have said just that.

A brain low on oxygen must be the excuse for something that happened recently at Winter Flight and also at the Santa Run. One of the top runners cut the course at the Santa Run and did it not far from the finish. Then, at least two more people did it at Winter Flight and a blatant occurrence happened at a race in Statesville last weekend. For sure, stay on the designated course. And if there are turnaround cones, go all the way around the cone. Cheating the course will be a guaranteed immediate disqualification in future local races. The last disqualification occurred a few years back when the race leader cut across the grass to shave off seconds on an asphalt course at Salisbury Community Park.

If the race brochure or website states that no dogs are allowed in the event, don’t bring yours to run. And if its not stated, make sure you call ahead to see if dogs can be allowed by starting in the back of the pack. All registration sites have a phone number or email to ask these questions. Numerous accidents with dogs and especially their leashes prompted these rules.

Regardless of the situation, whether your best friend or wife or sister couldn’t make it, don’t run the race under someone else’s name using their bib number. The mass confusion that this causes with tabulating the results is a surprise to most who do it. Especially when every single race held in Rowan County will gladly help transfer a registration to another person because of sickness or for just about any other reason. We want you in the event, just go to the trouble to do it right.

And even worse, don’t run in a race without registering. There isn’t a good enough reason to do that. Recently, we’ve had parents that wanted to run with their child just to accompany them. Rowan County races have safe courses and registration fees that are half of Mecklenburg County races and remain very affordable, especially considering the value of the shirt, refreshments, awards, door prizes and that a local charity is the beneficiary of the proceeds.

Worst case of the above is a runner that intentionally comes to the race to “bandit” the course. In other words, they let the race start and then jump in at the first curve, turn or congested spot. Then, they test themselves against the real participants, before sometimes but not always getting off the course just before the finish. And the lowest of the bandits work their way through the refreshment area before slinking to their car. No, the road is not free during a race!

And finally, once you’ve finished the course as a properly registered runner, go enjoy the refreshments and any vendors or entertainment. But do not head for the area where the results are being tabulated, either by manual or chip timing, and then start asking questions of those hard at work. They don’t have time to look you up! When left alone, they will very likely have those results by the time you’ve enjoyed the other amenities.

Bottom line, yes, these events are competitive. But do your racing honestly on the course and honor those that work hard to provide the races and the charities that receive the proceeds! Don’t do the above things. A runner who doesn’t follow the rules or demands special attention because of poor manners means you didn’t act as a you should on race day.

Don’t be the runner that volunteers, participants and spectators go home talking about with a frown on their face!

The next race is one of our best, the Will Run for Food 5K and fun run at Centenary Methodist on Feb. 27. For more information, go to www.salisburyrowanrunners.org .

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