Dealing with people who litter, jostle and spit during your daily commute may have become a regular affair but you shouldn’t be facing such ordeals during a marathon. Here’s our guide on how runners can mind their manners.

Check your aggression at the start line

Participants are usually corralled or segregated at the start line on the basis of their running capabilities, yet aggressive pushing, shoving and tripping have become standard practice, say race regulars. Anjali Saraogi, a 43-year-old Kolkata-based runner and managing director of Kolkata-based Medstar Clinics, says this combative behaviour can be seen at every level. “It’s the smaller, petite runners who often get crushed," she says, adding, “This aggressive and rough behaviour is totally against the spirit of running and sportsmanship."

Garima Dhamija, an official pacer for this year’s HDFC Bank Millennium City Marathon, has found herself jostling with runners as they crowd the pit stop, pushing and snatching bottles from volunteers. “All you have to do is make eye contact, call out to a volunteer or just extend your hand before reaching the station and you will be handed a cup. Don’t crowd the water station," says Dhamija, a 43-year-old Gurugram-based consultant.

Bring your own bib

Run on your own bibs, says Kavitha Reddy, a 43-year-old homemaker from Pune and podium finisher in several races. “Often runners do not plan their races in advance and then reach out to people who are registered but unlikely to run and take their place," she says. “This is unsportsmanlike behaviour," she says.

Look before you change lanes

The worst thing that can happen when you’re sprinting towards the finish line is another runner shunting into your lane. “It’s very annoying since you’re forced to either change lanes, slow down or risk collision. It may sound like a minor adjustment, but reacting instantly at a time when you are tired can be stressful," says Saraogi. Runners who abruptly stop mid-course without warning are also a hazard. Bengaluru-based research fellow Aishwarya Subramanian, 29, who once ran smack into another runner and hurt both her nose and race timing, says, “If you must, stop on the side and use hand signals or your voice to warn other runners so that it doesn’t end up being a pile-up."

Don’t litter the course

Throwing used cups and bottles in the middle of the course is dangerous for the runners behind you. “Runners should throw their trash on the sides," says 42-year-old Aditi Mehta, the Mumbai-based director of IT firm Mediaman Infotech. “I have seen runners trip and slip on rubbish."

Mind where you spit

When the body is stressed, it produces more saliva or mucus, so it’s not unusual if people need to spit while running. The problem is how they do it. “At the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) earlier this year, a participant spat bang in the middle of the race route without any consideration for the runners around him," says B. Rajesh, a 40-year-old Kolkata-based restaurateur. Basic courtesy demands that you never spit on or around fellow runners.

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