Five Hazards Presented by Other Runners in Races

Participating in a race is the reward to many runners for weeks or months of training. But races present certain hazards. Here are five hazards that your fellow racers can present.

Hazard: Talking on a cellphone

“Distracted driving” is now appreciated by most motorists as a description of how dangerous it can be to talk on a cellphone while driving. Unfortunately, “distracted running” is not as well appreciated by many runners. And some of those runners create a hazard by talking on cellphones during races. While this is safe to do when such a runner has cautiously stopped on the side of the road or trail before making or taking a call, this is not safe for a runner to do while running.

Avoid this hazard by looking for runners with hands to heads and by runners who are running more slowly than those around them (because wireless headsets may be involved!).

Hazard: Listening to music with earphones

This hazard has become so common that some racing authorities ban earphones on the race course. If a runner is listening to music through earphones, then he or she is unlikely to hear emergency-responders, as well as fellow runners, as quickly as he or she should. And this failure to hear the sounds of the racing environment can lead to all sorts of accidents.

Avoid this hazard by looking for tell-tale cords hanging from other runners’ ears.

Hazard: Running backward

You may occasionally see a runner who is running backward along part of a race course — perhaps to work out some stiff muscles or joints or perhaps while calling out motivational messages to the runner whom he or she is facing. But runners do not have rear-view mirrors, and hazards abound in races, so someone who is running backward during a race can cause many problems.

Avoid this hazard by simply noticing when you see faces — instead of the backs of heads — in the racing crowd ahead of you.

Hazard: Wearing a bulky costume

Some races seem to attract runners wearing wacky costumes. While a costume can make the spectators laugh, it also can obscure the costume-wearer’s vision, which can lead to him or her running into others or more easily tripping on hazards that most runners will see and avoid.

Avoid this hazard by staying away from runners with costumes, especially ones that obscure their vision or can interfere with the movement of their feet.

Hazard: Running two or three abreast

This is a special kind of hazard. Some people have trained all season together for your race, so they want to complete the race together. Unfortunately, they can obscure your vision of what lies ahead, and they can abruptly move “in bulk” across a road or trail when one of them decides to stop for water or a toilet break.

Avoid this hazard by being extra cautious when passing a “wall” of runners.