When you show up to a running race, you will notice a plethora of different runners. No two runners are exactly alike and that is never more evident than when you get a lot of us together in one place. Let me be clear at the start: I am not bashing any of you that read this. I myself have probably been every one of “these people” at some point in my life. If you feel convicted by any of these stereotypes then, well, you might be that one. Embrace it. Run with it, literally. More importantly, laugh about it. This list of “the people you will see at races” is compiled from experience and from people I have seen at some point or another. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty. 

The first person you will see at the race is the most “in your face”. I have lovingly named this person Captain Intense. I probably tend the most to this category. I am excluding high school cross country runners, but collegiate runners and up are fair game. This person you will see because they are putting in their miles as you walk up still half asleep. They absolutely brought at least 2 pairs of shoes to the race, and one of those pairs has a carbon plate in it. If they are wearing a race shirt, it’s probably from a destination race or a major marathon. They want you to fear them and to respect them. This will be evident by their meticulous warm up and the strides they do before the start. 

Captain Intense has a twin sibling. That twin is named “The Bragger”. You may not SEE this person so much as you will HEAR this person. The humble brags will be flowing… “when I was running in Montana last week…” or “last year at the LA Marathon…” You will hear stories of the places they’ve run. Names will be dropped that you, apparently, are supposed to know. They will have an opinion on all things running because they have tried all the things and run all the races. 

As you wait for the race to start, you will notice the Over Prepared runner. At first, you will second guess your own existence at the race after seeing this person. “Am I ready for this?” “Did I miss a memo about the course?” Sometimes that answer is yes, but that would make YOU a different person on this list. The Over Prepared runner is probably carrying water. I run in Texas and I respect that, but when you have over a liter of water on your person for a 5K you are Over Prepared. When you see a person taking an energy gel before that same 5K, they are Over Prepared. I always prefer to be this person over the next person though…

Toeing the start line as the Under Prepared runner is never fun. Sometimes your training was shotty (or absent) and you don’t feel ready for the run. That is one way to be under prepared. Then there is the “showing up to a long trail race with no water” version of under prepared. Burned into my memory was running the Disney Marathon in 2010. 28 degrees at the start and me in split shorts, a tank, thin Under Armor, and wet gloves. My hour in medical tents after the race for hypothermia are proof that I was underprepared for the weather. Everyone is different in what they need or prefer to run in. If you want to run in basketball shorts and a heavy cotton t-shirt, more power to you, but know that you will get strange looks from the other people lined up for the half marathon.  

I highly encourage you to warm up before you run and that goes double on a race day. The purpose of warming up is to prepare you for activity, get the heart rate up, and get blood flowing to the muscles. You do not want to wear yourself out before the actual race. At the Cap10K in Austin I saw people an hour and a half before the race already going through their warm ups. This is a little excessive. You go through all that effort, only to stand or sit around again for 30-45 minutes?! Please don’t be that person. Finishing the warm up about 15 minutes before race start is more ideal because you can get some water, find your way into your corral, and be ready for the start. If you’re not in the corral at the right time, you may end up being…

“Wait, where is everyone?” You trained hard for this, so check the times, dates, and locations! Don’t be the Lost Person. Know when the race starts and if there are waves for the start, know when you have to be there for yours. You could end up missing the start entirely or getting shoved to the back of a slower starting group. Worst case scenario, you get the date wrong and miss the race all together. Technically, you aren’t a person for this list at that point because you weren’t there to be seen! 

You would think this part is understood, but make sure you know the actual address of the race. If this is a recurring, annual, race they are notorious for switching starting locations (looking at you Dallas/White Rock Marathon). Don’t show up at the wrong place! Another fun quirk of races is Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, and even St. Patrick’s day are known for fun 5ks/trots. If you Google “Turkey Trot” you will find a bajillion options out there. Sometimes there are even multiple races in the same town. Make sure you register for the race you want to run! I have heard stories of people showing up to the wrong race because they just searched “Firecracker 5K” or “Turkey Trot”. 

So what do you do with all this information? Probably nothing. If you felt personally attacked by a category, again, you may be that person. If you are, tone it down. There’s nothing wrong with the races you’ve run or being prepared for the race you are about to run, but remember we are all different. We all have different experiences and goals. Races wouldn’t be the same without all of you people. It’s part of what makes showing up to races so much fun. You meet new people. You learn new things. So you do you and keep running you hydration pack wearing, overly warmed up, slightly confused, carbon plated shoe wearing runner. 

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