Archived: Finish Line Etiquette


Got a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


Is there an unspoken rule that says you cannot pass another runner just before the finish line, even if you are in different age groups or different-length races, such as a half marathon and marathon finishing together? I overheard two runners this weekend arguing about that at a race. I stayed out of the argument, because I had no idea.


Simply stated, it’s a “race,” isn’t it? And it’s your race, not a race against some stranger encountered for the first time on the final straightaway. As far as I am concerned, you are permitted to shave every silly, little second off your finishing time. If someone got passed in the last 20 meters, that person should have trained harder instead of hanging around outside the chute afterwards and grousing that someone outsprinted him at the line. Also, I particularly don’t care for “unspoken rules.” It’s up to each individual runner to determine how hard and fast he or she wants to run once in sight of the digital clock overhanging the finish line.

About the Author

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.

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