No Perks; and Run Your Own Race

Ethics for the Running Community

by David M. Patt, CAE

Association of Running Event Directors –


(This article appeared in RRCA "Inside Track" in Spring 2007)



            “You are an agent of your club or event, even if you don’t get paid” attendees were told at the RRCA 50th Anniversary Conference session on ethics.  “Anything you do – good or bad – will reflect on your club.”


            Club members learned about two kinds of ethical issues at the annual gathering – club/event ethics, and runner ethics – and identified issues to be avoided in the conduct of club activities.


Club/Event Ethics


            “No perks,” was the chief message conveyed to club officials.  Acceptance of gifts and favors by club leaders can compromise the group’s integrity and raise questions about all of its activities.


             Nobody should ever think that a club official will use his or her position for personal gain.  No business should be given the impression it can win the club as a customer by providing perks to its officials.


            Vendors should know the ONLY way to win the club’s business is to provide a high-quality product, at a reasonable price, supported by excellent service.  Perks, gifts, and favors benefit the official, not the club, and suggest the vendor will not meet the club’s need for quality, price, and service.


            Club officials should also be sure to honor sponsor commitments, especially exclusivity agreements.  Never lie about the number of entries, the size of club membership, or the reach of event marketing.  Respect the volunteer hierarchy and adhere to club policies.  Ensure that club newsletters and web sites represent the club, not the editor or webmaster, and are approved by a club official before printing or posting.


Runner Ethics


            “Run your own race,” was the directive for individual runners.  “Club members should set an example for proper running ethics.”


            Never “run in” an age group competitor.  If a runner is fast enough to win, she should be fast enough to win without pacing help.  Don’t elbow other runners out of the way when approaching the finish line chutes.  If you don’t want anybody to pass you, then run faster.  Don’t run with someone else’s bib number.  Don’t sell or give away your bib number, even if you think that should be allowed.  Follow the rules of each race.


            If you run with a baby stroller, remain behind all of the runners.  Giving up a racing opportunity is merely one of the many sacrifices required by parenthood.  NEVER race with a dog.  If you run with your child, pay the entry fee for both of you, start at the appropriate place for your child (not on the front line), and stay with your child the entire race (unless she’s faster than you).


Take a t-shirt your own size and leave the kids shirts for the kids.  Pay the correct amount for your entry and don’t ask for a refund if you miss the race or find out you can’t run that day.  If you are a club official, do not participate in the raffle at your club race.  Winning a prize will give the appearance of the raffle being “fixed.”