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Tips For Running Large Races

The running season, at least in Baltimore, kicks off this weekend with the Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K. Owned and operated by Charm City Run, it is the race management company’s largest race of the year and was capped this year at 4,500 participants.

Large races can be the most fun. With so many people, it is truly an event. For first-time runners, they can be a great introduction into the running community, and a chance to get a feel for what a longer distance event atmosphere feels like.

Though veterans know, these types of races can be the most difficult to compete in. Because of the high volume, it can be tight maneuvering through the crowds of runners and keeping pace when the road in front of you is blocked with participants.

Here are a few tips for running your best in a large race:

1. Try to self-position yourself smartly in the pack.
If you are an elite runner or run at a fast pace, move toward the front of the line so you start off at the right pace and don’t get behind. If you are a slower runner, it is OK. You may be able to pick it up once in the race, but at the start, try to position yourself in the middle. You avoid getting trampled and you can always pass people later. And if you do …

2. Pass people on the side.
If you have a desire to pass runners on the course, make your way to the sides of the course and pass on the outskirts and then work your way back in. It avoids a cluster and there is typically more room on the ends of the course.

3. Stay in the middle if you are skipping a water stop.
Typically, there is at least one water stop on a course. If you choose to skip it and not take water, move to the center of the course. If you need water and see a stop up ahead, start to move toward the ends. This, again, avoids backup and runners cutting across the lane while others are trying to keep pace.

4. Remember you have two times with a chip race.
For a chip-timed race, there are two times listed in your results. There is what is known as the gun time and then there is the chip time. The gun time runs from the time the gun goes off until the last participant crosses the line.

However, each individual also wears a chip that coordinates with the bib number the runner wears on the front of their T-shirt. When a runner crosses a mat at the start, the chip is activated and starts that individual runner’s time. When that runner passes a similar mat at the finish, their time stops, recording a more exact time of the runner’s completion of the course.

The timing company, in accordance with USATF regulations, decides award winners based on the gun time. However, when you view your results on the web following the race, view your chip time because it will give you a more accurate viewing of your pace so you can train for your next race accordingly.

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