Podium P’s & Q’s: How to Be a Good Sport After Placing in a Race
We’ve all been there, fast or slow, trying to grab a glance at our real chip time and our ranked place among the other runners. If we’re going to be honest, we’ve had races where we’re more into checking place than pace especially on a decent non-PR time. At a race this spring, as I was walking to grab some post-race treats, a dear running comrade, one I logged miles upon miles with, made a statement with venom that stopped me in my tracks. The sheer force of the negative emotion made my stomach hurt. I knew he had run faster and placed better than myself. He was spewing negativity: “I beat him! I knew it! No chance was he going to win…” This was a new side of him and hearing the words seemed an intrusive glance into his mindset. For him, it had become about running against others and beating them. We all seek to outperform each other, but it’s not to someone else’s detriment, failure to meet a goal or dream that won’t get met. Clearly, he did not care about any of that. He just cared he beat whoever was the likely, unknowing target. I was disappointed…even a little sad.
Immediately, introspection began. How do I react in the same situation? Luckily, mine is usually a dorky fist pump and exclamation. The whole situation evoked the power behind having humility and handling an honor of a place finish with grace. At a race, someone sees your every move. This doesn’t mean you can’t walk around with your chest puffed out a bit… but just a bit!
Breathe. Get some fluids, you probably need them. Relax. Your time is not going to change regardless of if you get it right now or in three minutes from right now. Do not ask officials when the times will be updated – you crossed the finish line 29 seconds ago. Don’t jump over other people’s back to see your time posted. (We’ve all had that extra sweaty guy that gets a little too close.) If you are lucky enough to be at a race that provides receipt results, wait patiently in line. Talk to people. Ask them about their race. Make friends. You all are no longer competitors.
Confirmation You Rock
Just like you aimed for and wanted, you placed! React, but make your Mama proud. Saying some exclamation of joy is acceptable. Smile. Be extra friendly because you are in a good mood. Make sure your actions are respectable. Any sign you are unhappy does not fall into that category. There are people who tried really hard and may not have had your great, fast fortune. Maybe you were second last year and placed third and truly upset about it. Remove yourself to a far off location if some venting needs to occur. One caveat: if this is your first time placing, go a little (little!) wild. Jump up and down. Do a little jig. It is a nice thing to see a first in someone’s running career. They become so rare so quickly that there is a place in every seasoned runners heart for another‘s first.
Waiting for Awards: Oh. The. Wait.
You’ve hydrated, changed and texted your biggest supporter. Now, the wait for awards begins. As quickly as even a well-oiled race is flowing, awards will never come fast enough. Keep yourself occupied, cheer for those still running, take in the day, sit down and chill out. Do not hover near the stage or timing tent. Nothing irks hard-working race staff and volunteers than an impatient award recipient. If you end up bumping into people you have seen time and again at races, ask their name and chat ‘em up.
Podium P’s & Q’s
Be ready when it’s your turn to assume your designated position, congratulate those standing up with you, look out in the crowd and smile. Nothing looks worse than an unhappy or ungrateful award recipient. Do not forget to say thank you to those handing you items, giving you direction and all around literally running things. Then move on. Other people have awards to receive. (Remember how long you had to wait?) While not a requirement, staying for all award groups is the courteous thing to do if your schedule allows for it. Being the last award and having no one clapping would be a bit of a downer.
Unless you have some completely tech savvy parent or your significant other is just a social media junky, you’re going to be the one notifying the masses of your accomplishment. And if you want to, you should! Post it, snap it, tweet it, update your status- whatever avenue you fancy. Be proud. Post your time, a picture of the award and add an endearing hashtag with it. Keep it light and about your personal achievement. People want to support positive, happy cohorts. Make sure nothing in the post rings along the lines of putting others down. Be extra cautious with hashtags. If something is negative you will sound sort of like a jerk and, on the vanity thread, jeopardize likes on the post.
Being a positive runner can only benefit us all. Leading by example and setting the tone of a regularly run race is something we each contribute to, whether we chose it or not.
Later, at a different event, I was walking up to a podium and remembered the encounter from the spring. I recognized a fellow award recipient. She has a form that would make machines jealous. It is the best I have ever seen. As we walked up, I told her. The other woman placing, upon hearing, immediately agreed. The air took a powerful, positive buzz. It was, hands down, the best I have ever felt after a race. It made me proud to have been grouped with these women. We all led by positive, supportive example and people very willingly followed.