Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Surviving a Crowded Race 101

Running , as  a sport, is on its peak in the Philippines. Race calendars are filled up and lots of people are jumping on the bandwagon. Amidst the rising cost of registration, runners , it seems to me, are willing to pay and we have  a lot of blockbuster races last year to manifest to it. The Milo race  remains to be consistent, the RunRio events are becoming more and more popular and who could forget the World Record smasher, Run for Ilog Pasig 10.10.10.  The year 2011 started with a bang, not only on the number of people joining a racing event but also on the skyrocketing registration fees. Thus, cheap races are well attended. How much more for free races!

Perhaps the most talked about free race coming this saturday is the Hyundai Accent Fun Run. The event that initially targeted more than just 2000 runners is now expecting 20000+  ( based on some reports ).  The venue has been moved from Bonifacio Global City to the Roxas Boulevard area to accommodate the large volume of expected runners. Hyundai, must be investing a lot on this event. It takes not only a large amount of fund to run this event but also huge manpower. If they will fail to provide even only the race essentials, runners will suffer. Thus, we should not expect too much. Like on other race events, dont put your  safety on the hands of the organizers (unless they already have a proven track record), be prepared and ready. You may survive the race, but will you survive the crowd? Here are some tips that you can ponder upon before the D day.

On the Venue
  • If it is your first time to run on the venue, it would not hurt to know about the location. Having a knowledge on the nearest hospital in case of emergency and the nearest nice food joint where to do the post-race meal would be helpful.
  • If you are bringing your car, determine the possible parking areas and the parking fee around the location. Take note of the traffic advisory for the event, so you know what alternative routes to take. Know where the safe parking areas are. More importantly, be early, parking spaces will sell like hotcakes, being early means you got to chose the best parking location you want. By the way, please brush up your parking and driving skills.
  • If you are commuting. know the best and safest mode of transportation going to and going out of the location. Be early , you don't want to be stuck in traffic and miss the gun start. Remember that the cab/jeep may not be able to drop you off close to the starting line, you may need to walk for a couple of hundreds of meters as a warm up.
On Baggage Counters

         Unlike well organized big races like NYC marathon or Boston Marathon, the baggage counter    management can be chaotic. Yes, they may separate each by categories but don't bet your life on it.  For runners who bring their own car this is not a problem. For a regular running Juan, baggage counter seems to be necessary.
  • If you will not be bringing too many things, opt not to deposit it on the counter. It maybe better for you to just bring a comfortable bag for running and carry it through out the race. This is, of course, may be applicable only to races up to 10K. You don't want to run a 42Km or even just a 21Km with a bag in your back, unless of course it is your hydration bag.
  • If you, however, intend to deposit your things, be early to avoid the number of crowd depositing while trying to catch the gun start.
  • Put a lock on your bag and make sure no  valuables are left inside if you are to deposit it.
On Hydration and Safety

  • Expect the least on any race. This makes you better prepared especially when it comes to the most essential needs during the race. With a large volume of runners competing not only on the road but also on hydration stations, it is a good advice to bring your own drink. May it be in a hydration belt, on a camel pack or simply a handheld sports drink.
  • If you don't consider yourself as an "elite", don't ever dare to stay at the front row on the starting line unless you intend to be stepped upon by runners who wants to start strong. If you feel that you are just there for the fun of it, stay at the back, don't try to force yourself in between hundreds of people.
  • Be mindful of the things that you have with you. Sometimes other people try to take advantage of the situation to steal something without the victim even noticing it. Be mindful of your wallet, your keys and your precious iPods floating in your armband waiting to be snatched unknowingly by a silent "runner".
  • If you are not aiming for a Personal Best, just enjoy the run and don't force yourself. Remember that too much crisscrossing and zigzagging to get through the crowd of runners is inviting injury.
On Running Etiquette

On large events where thousands of runners participate, running etiquette should always be observed.  Respect other runners so that they, in turn, respect you. Always remember that you are just 1 of the thousands of runners trying to finish the race. Observe proper decorum. For a detailed discussion on some common race etiquette's you can search the web or you can read HERE, HERE , HERE and HERE.

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