Fitness Articles

9 Helpful Tips for Your First Charity Race

Cross the Finish Line with Flying Colors

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Get There Early
Runners should arrive at least one hour before their official start time. Doing so will allow time to park, register (if not done in advance), pick up your race packet, pick up your bib/chip, allow time for warming-up (details below), stretching, and hitting the portable toilets. Depending on the race location, race directors usually provide portable toilets for the runners. Just know that the closer it gets to race time, the longer the lines become, so give yourself plenty of time to take care of any bathroom breaks well in advance of the start time.

Put on Your Bib on Right
Pin your bib on the front of your shirt rather than on your back. This will make it easier for race officials to identify runners so they can call out their names as they cross the finish line. If your race is not a chip-timed event (see below) this will also make it easier for you to tear off the tab at the bottom of your bib.

Clip on that Chip
Not every race uses chips to time the runners. Some bibs have a timing device on the underside, and other races use neither. Large and competitive races tend to use a chip that attaches to your shoe via a zip tie (available at the race). Wearing a chip allows your race time to be recorded for placement and award eligibility.

Chips are not usually distributed to runners until race day, so plan on arriving a few minutes early so that you have time to pick up your chip. Most races hold these chips at the registration table or within close proximity of the registration table. It is essential that you have your bib number on hand when picking up your chip as your chip number corresponds to your bib number.

The chips have a small transponder that activates when you cross the mat at the starting line. Remember to cross the mat or your starting time will not be recorded. When you come to the finish line, you must cross the second set of mats to deactivate the chip in order to have your finishing time recorded. Most events require participants to surrender the chip when the race is over; make sure the volunteers remove yours before you meet up with family and friends. If you fail to return the chip, you may be billed for its replacement.

Warm Up
Warming up is essential before every race. Not only does it get the blood flowing to the muscles, it also helps you mentally prepare for your race. It is quite common, even for seasoned runners—and non-competitive ones—to have a little anxiety prior to the race. Doing a nice warm-up allows you to shake loose some of the nerves.
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About The Author

Nancy Howard Nancy Howard
Nancy is an avid runner and health enthusiast. A retired pediatric nurse, she received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University and is also a certified running coach and ACE-certified personal trainer.

Member Comments

  • Great article. I don't run because of my hip. - 8/29/2013 8:01:49 AM
  • It is very important to overdress or underdress. Yes, it does say that in the article. I'm pretty sure it should say to NOT. I had to go back and look at that twice. lol - 5/29/2013 2:08:45 PM
  • Great info! I wear a Road ID on my shoe...the kind with a pocket to hold my key, but I had not considered creating an ICE contact entry on my phone. As soon as I finished the article, I created one. - 5/17/2013 1:46:21 PM
  • Thansk for the great article. A few of my friends and I are planning to run a 5K in December and these are some great tips. I was sort of wondering what to pack/bring and I'm the kind of person who is always nervous about something til I do it at least once or twice. - 8/16/2012 9:58:44 PM
  • What a great article, Nancy! This will sure help anyone who is new to races. - 8/16/2012 8:16:17 PM
    20-25 minutes warm-up! Ha ha that is funny. I do not know if I would be able to run 48 minutes after that! - 11/28/2011 12:33:44 PM
  • Yeah to all of us getting rady to run our first 5ks! This was a great article, I saved it also! Good luck everyone! - 10/11/2011 12:42:59 PM
  • I am definitely saving this article. I am runing my first 5K in October, so I am sure it will come in handy! - 8/18/2010 7:56:06 AM
  • Thanks for this article. My first 5K is next Sunday and I found the tips very helpful. - 2/7/2010 7:02:43 PM
    wonderful article. full of good ideas, I am doing a 5k charity walk in a few weeks and I'm so glad I came across this advice. Jill - 1/30/2010 2:01:50 PM
  • Nice article, but I stopped running YEARS ago because I felt it was bad for my knees. - 1/30/2010 12:47:59 AM
  • I am running a day after Thanksgiving 5K for a local Hospice organization. Anyone have any experience or suggestions concerning getting through the big feast day knowing that there is a race the next day? Foods to pay special attention to include or avoid? I appreciate any insight anyone may have. - 11/17/2009 9:09:54 AM
  • Nice how-to Nancy! Wish I'd had this on my first race.
    Keep in mind that any layers you wear that you might want to take off during the race should be something you're willing/able to tie around your waist or carry. (The sleeveless overshirt doesn't work well for this reason). - 11/17/2009 8:38:51 AM
  • Love it, this inspires me on. Not only will I use this as a personal , but I will use it as a team challenge for the coming new year. Thank you for all you do.
    Nancy - 11/17/2009 4:19:14 AM

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