For someone who has been around or involved in running and road racing for most of my life, I have seen a lot of things that have completely mystified me; but none so much as seeing people who are either arriving at their first ever race, or have yet to shed the newbie habits that make them, well, "newbies".

   You know the type. The guy or girl who shows up 5 minutes before the race begins to register. They aren't sure of what to do and from their perspective, "it's not a big deal". Only, it is. For the rest of the field  standing there listening intently to the race director's final instructions it's a distraction. It's a delay. It's upsetting the balance of their perfectly planned and otherwise executed race day ritual. 

    Road races have become more relaxed from a participant point of view because the options that are are now available are less traditional than standardized road racing. Therefore events such as Mud Runs, Foam Runs, Glow Runs and Color Runs tend to be less if at all competitive and more party. Where this becomes a problem is when a newbie's only experience is with one of those type events, and then they show up for a more traditional 5K and wonder why the race director is high strung about starting the race on time.

      So how do you get onboard if this is you? Follow these simple steps to ensure that you not only have a positive race day experience, but that you aren't ruining someone else's race day in the process. 

1. Arrive Early - Race day registration can be chaotic as it is. By arriving early you can get through the process of either picking up your packet if you pre-registered, or signing up on race day. This gives you plenty of time to put your race shirt and things away and warmup for the event.

2. Wear your race number on the front of your body without covering it over with a jacket. Putting your number on right the first time will help you avoid any last minute changes at the starting line. Note: In running events, numbers should always be visible on the front of your body. In some international events runners wear one on the front and the back, but nearly all local Mississippi running events have numbers worn on the front of the runner's body.

3. Know where the starting line is. If you show up late, this can cause a domino effect in unfortunate events. Once you pickup your packet, find the start line. 

4. Listen to the instructions from the race director/timer/race starter. If you are new, you need to pay special attention. The instructions can include important course details, instructions for a wave start if there is one and most importantly, any instructions regarding the finish line. You will want to hear these instructions.

5. Don't get on the front row if you know you aren't at least a sub-7 minute pace runner. You'll only cause runners to have to run around you in the first 150 yards and may cause someone to fall trying to avoid you.

      Many of the participants standing next to you are not running their first competitive 5K. Take the time to say hello and ask someone near you if you aren't sure what to do. 

      Road Racing is a great way to make friends and generally have fun. For a select few it is the culmination of a week's intense training and how they measure their progress on a particular weekend. 

    Remember, there is nothing wrong with having fun at a competitive 5K, just make sure you are giving the race the appropriate attention and respect.