Firstly this is not apply to ALL 'slower' runners.

I respect anyone who takes part in organised runs be it a 5k, 10k, 10m, half marathon, marathon, etc, etc.

I am equally impressed by anyone who runs a 10k in 27 mins as I am by someone who is determined and gutsy enough to complete a marathon in 6 hours.

HOWEVER, more and more people seem to be starting in the wrong place in races thereby ruining it for those honest enough to say what time they will finish.

Today,I ran the BUPA 10000 in London and was pleased from the magazine received that there were NINE starting packs, all starting in waves, so elite and club runners could try for PB's and first timers, etc could start where they felt comfortable without the pressure of people trying to overtake them.

However for the first 6km, I must have over taken at least 500 people (12000 runners) who seemed to think that finishing in 40mins was well within their range. Now I know sometimes races don't go as planned, but surely 500 people couldn't have had a bad day, especially those already walking after 1km...call me grumpy, but from being honest about my hoped finishing time, I added at least 2 minutes to my time by weaving in and out of people. Very frustrating and very annoying...

Please reply and let me know if I am being out of order with this minority of runners and should I claim to be a 30min 10k runner in future so I can start in a better position

For the record I finished in 43mins 49secs, although as it is a fast course was hoping to beat my PB of 42mins 11secs



  • Sprint AkieSprint Akie ✭✭✭
     It tends to be a problem at the big races as there were similar issues at the Great Manchester Run as the fastest wave was suppose to accomodate runners expecting to finish in around 48mins or less and there was people walking after about 2-3km from this wave. Ive come to expect it in bigger races though which is why I just try to enjoy the race and atmosphere than worry about times.
  • I'm a slower runner, and it annoys me too...I overtook dozens yesterday who had clearly started too far forward. Don't mind overtaking anyone, but the ones who really annoyed me were the group walking four abreast across the full width of the path in a country park.

  • I don't know what the answer is to that.   I'm not the fastest of runners.  However i do check out starting positions.  I would hate to start in an ambitious pen then burn myself out too quickly cos i'm in the wrong pace group.   It would spoil the race for me.  I think like KK says people don't understand.  I help out at a lot of races and you'd be surprised at the amount of people who don't know what chip timing is.  We know too that they don't read the race instructions which are sent out beforehand explaining chip timing and voluntary seeding at the start.

  • I am by no means fast - my training pace is about 10.30mm and I can push that to 10.20 if I want to but I would never start further forward in a race than I thought I was able, it's just selfish.

    You can't get delusions of grandeur about it; if you're slow, you're slow. You aren't suddenly going to become a seven minute miler overnight no matter how much the race atmosphere gees you up.

    It's such a shame, maybe some runners think they won't have as much fun at the back of the race, or perhaps these individuals don't realise the inconvenience of having to constantly overtake - it's probably not something they're used to image

  • I'm a really slow runner & Id hate to be in a faster pack & would feel out of my league. Also I feel great if I can actually overtake a few as it means I wont be last! Its not fair on the faster runners but I do think some people dont understand especially if they havent run in event before.
  • I'd heard the same from a friend who did the Manchester race.

    You have to accept that at any big event there'll be a larger number of people who aren't aware of racing etiquette or their own limitations. If I was to do something like the London Marathon or Great North Run, which I'm not at all convinced I want to, it would be for the experience rather than the time. I'll save my PB attempts for smaller races.

  • I do think most of it is ignorance - a lot of them wont have raced before and have no idea of the proper way. I cant see any way round it apart from avoiding these big races ?
  • It seems to be a problem with just about every big race.

    If it is ignorance, then I think the only way it could be tackled would be to have race marshalls around the starting pens with megaphones repeating over and over that "if you're starting in this zone you should be expecting to complete the run in <<however many>> minutes" and similar messages to really hammer it home.

    At least that way no-one could claim ignorance as an excuse.

  • If you start too far forward in a triathlon open water swim you'll get swum over, hit and generally beaten up by the faster swimmers.  Maybe we should allow that in running races as well?


  • I have done races with signs like those KK and it made no difference and I got held up for ages and I am slow.  I tend to start too far back as I know most people go off faster and I don't want to get swept along and burnt out to soon.

    RFL is where is has genuinely annoyed me.  Those races have a 'walkers start' but there are always loads of walkers start with the runners and joggers becasue they think they will start off running but die after 200 metres

  • I agree there were some in todays Bupa run that started too far forward, but I have to say it was a LOT better than many other runs I have done, I was starting in the (back half of the) second wave and there were not too many people that I had to run around. I think the 9 waves were relatively good and the majority of people seemed to be honest with themselves when entering.

    Re the triathlon idea, - I think that should only apply if they are walking after 1k - unless injured etc

  • JoolskaJoolska ✭✭✭

    Yup, happens all the time.  I used to rant about it a lot in race reviews, but I've come to accept that race organisers for these big city events probably aren't too fussed about what the first few hundred out of 10,000 think, as the 9,800 who don't care/understand will definitely be back the next time. 

    I do also agree that a lot of it is ignorance and I've certainly no sense that the slower runners who start too near the front are doing it on purpose.  Pace boards don't seem to make a huge amount of difference nor do coloured race numbers, as those rely on people predicting their finish time accurately.  Also, the divisions tend to be sufficiently broad as to be somewhat ineffective (one superb year at Bristol the first wave encompassed everything up to 1.45; the sub 6 minute milers must have loved it).

    Edit: sub-6 minute milers.  Obv not many sub 5 minute milers in domestic half marathons... D'oh!

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    I can agree with people. I think that there needs to be stricter enforcement of pens/coloured bibs etc. I've run Cologne for the past 2 years and the coloured bibs are strictly enforced - so much so that i saw a scuffle break out last year when the marshal wouldnt let one guy in. Not only does it work but its an actual pleasure to run.

    I remember Reading last year starting at the 2 hour mark (where i intended to be) and overtaking people that were walking at the 1 mile mark and doing so for the rest of the race, Maybe its an idea for the race organisers to include something on their entry forms to say "be realistic and considerate to other runners".
  • I also ran the BUPA 10K today, and did indeed pass a number of red bibbed runners who were never going to get around in under an hour.

    However, the same could be said for a number of speedy types, wearing green numbers, who seemed to be going along at sub 40 pace. I know they are the ones who have to weave in and out but I did witness a few near misses that could of led to a nasty fall or two.

  • People sometimes just have no idea...

    Stratford Sprint Tri is always seeded on swim times. Every year, there are some who can manage 10-12 min for 400m swim starting with the fast boys at c. 5 min. They get swum over and quite right too. Even easier to do in open water image

    It's not a case of being elitist, it's just a case of etiquette and good manners from all competitors.

    I'm around mid-pack (dependent on the quality of the field) and start, er, mid pack. It's not rocket science, is it?

  • Do you think its maybe because inexperienced people don't maybe know their min/mile?  That they have an idea of how long it will take them, but pace is something else?  I don't know? 

    I am just thinking about if I were to enter a swimming race and there were waves (see what I did there, LOL sea??)


    anyway, I wouldn't know what pace I swim at, but I would have an idea how long it would take (if that makes sense)

    we all know from people who post real beginners questions about pacing, that not everyone knows

    or maybe its ignorance over the timing mats.....I don't know 

    but it annoys me too.  I would think it really rude to sneak up a wave, (unless I had pinched someones number but noooobody does that, no no nooooo)

  • Thanks for the posts - bibs are an idea,but the Bupa 10000 had nine staggered starts depending on what time you thought would achieve but still the problem occurred.

    I was a bit concerned when I noticed where I was, near the front of the 42 - 45 min predicted finish time area, there were at least two people wearing 'fashion' trainers with about as much cushioning as a flip-flop. To not even wear proper running foot wear and think you can finish in 42 minutes.....astonishing naivety....just hope their joints are suffering too much

  • eeek. That  is gonna huuuurt
  • Bet there were a few females without sports bras too! 
  • I saw a few chin-bruisers on my run yesterday.  I felt like stopping them and saying kindly 'sports bras are available. Widely'.
  • Kwilter - were you at the plymouth half yesterday??

    I think maybe the organisers need to put something on the pens saying pace (mins/mile) and overall finish time - hopefully even the first timers would know or be able to work out one or the other! but of course it does depend on people being honest with themselves and the organisers/marshalls.

    another thing that bugs me is people going slowly in the middle of the pathway so you can't overtake them - can we have some sort of unoccial rule that you stay at the side unless overtaking? please image (yes, i'm probably guilty of that sometimes, but i do try to stay out of the way)

  • Don't think the majority of people do it on purpose, more down to ignorance.

    Maybe if application forms had section for result from previous race/s (complicated I know, but......), then for those who are regular runners, they'd have that info and could be organised accordingly.  If people couldn't provide that because they are "fun runners" (using the term as used by tv commentators) then they could be put a bit further back in the starting pens on the assumption that they might be a bit slower. 

    You could also include something on application forms along the lines of "if you expect your finish time to be xx'xx, then your average pace will be yy'yy"  as I think that might help to make it clearer.

    Marking pens on the day is a good idea, but if people realise that they are in the wrong pen (at the start line) and want to change, that could lead to a bit of confusion!

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    When I did my first race, a half marathon, I was new to running and had no idea what time I would do. So I spent a while observing everyone else and put myself right at the back - better to have to overtake than be trampled. But most of all I had no idea what to expect. As a newbie I figured it was up to me to learn the rules and ropes.

    Some of the people we're complaining about simply don't know better. But there is a trend of late for folk to turn up determined to do their own thing and stuff everyone else. The race instructions ask us to start from the appropriate position in the pack - well, I'll start where I please and up here near the front looks good. The instructions ask us not to wear mp3 players - bollox to that, I can't run without my music, and so forth. And when this is gently pointed out, they get arsey. 

    Just a symptom of today's society. We're doomed, I tell ye, we're doomed ...

  • As a non ignorant (I hope) very slow runner I have to agree. I personally always start at very back, on basis I will finish at very back (Hi Joolska - remember me from back of Sodbury Slog) but I do think a lot of newcomers don't actually know how long they will take.

    I get particularly annoyed at the large races where the walkers also take up mid pack. I remember Bristol some years ago where they all linked arms across the carriageway blocking off any overtakers of their solidarity.

    The numerous races I have done have tried all of the suggestions here and usually to no avail. As suggested just use the larger races for atmosphere.

    PS I am hoping to use Swansea for my best 10k time for 5 years, and I think that is a large race but I will still start at back and go through pack, then I won't be pushing too hard too early - blessing in disguise maybe.

  • Sprint AkieSprint Akie ✭✭✭

     I think with the big races you just get a lot of people who havent run races before and probably think they are quicker than they are so put themselves too far forward then try to keep pace with faster people and end up burning out. Certainly happened to a few people that I know image.

    For the BUPA Great Manchester Run you had to put down your estimated time but if you wanted to change wave after you had already given a time then you had to 'prove' you deserved to be moved up by showing your time at another race. Maybe an idea and people who can prove they deserve to be in a faster wave are allowed to take the spaces in the faster wave before letting others in.

    I suppose thats the problem with this topic being discussed on here is that 99% of people on here probably are considerate with regards starting in the right place/wave.

  • Sprint Akie - I think you're spot on.  People who have an extended interest in running, enough to want to find out more about the subject, as opposed to just getting out and running, are those who have read and understand the frustrations of others and *aren't* the people getting in the way at the start of races.

    But, I don't think start time boards would make the first sniff of difference, TBH.  In the same way that you have to predict your FLM finish time and get into the appropriate pens and you *still* overtake walkers a mile in.  Some people will just pay no attention to it, because they'd rather not have to push past others themselves.  I mean, its hard work weaving.  Why do it if you don't have to? 

    If I was a selfish person I'd be trying to get as far forward as I possibly could.  That Radcliffe woman is always on the start line, isn't she?  Why shouldn't I be?  It works for her.

    But I do like the triathlon attack idea for those in the wrong place.  I tried that during FLM, but it was a tad exhausting pushing walkers out of my way.  I'd like to see someone try to prevent me overtaking by linking arms with their mates across the track.  You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.... image

Sign In or Register to comment.