Drafting Etiquette

Drafting is part of the reality of racing. However, just because drafting on another runner is legal doesn’t mean there are no standards of etiquette to follow. Recognizing the advantage that the runner you’re drafting on is providing you goes a long way toward keeping the running community friendly and welcoming. As someone who’s raced more than 700 times, I’ve compiled a list of rules to follow to keep drafting civil. Note that these guidelines are nothing official—just ideas out of my own head. I put these thoughts together for the Interurban Running Club in 2010 back when I was running my 5Ks in the low 16s—but it never hurts to reiterate!

  1. Drafting and Touching: If you draft and you touch the runner you’re drafting on, offer a genuine apology. If you draft and touch a second time, apologize again and consider what you’re doing! If you’ve touched twice, this person is probably not the best for you to draft on due to stride or pacing differences.
  2. Leading: If you draft, you should expect to lead every now and then. If possible, you should bring yourself to the front of the pack and allow others to draft off of you—after all, you gained an advantage drafting and so you should provide others the opportunity as well. Pay it forward!
  3. Talking: It’s great to identify yourself to the draftee. Express gratitude for the advantage they are giving you and the extra work they’re putting in.
  4. First Aid: If you clip your draftee and they go down, you must help them out! You really shouldn’t beat them in the race after that, either—it was your mistake that knocked them down. Be kind and responsible for your actions!
  5. Gratitude: After the race has concluded, make sure you let the draftee know you appreciate their effort. Without them, you wouldn’t have done as well as you did.

As a community, we need to support each other—and making drafting a courteous, two-way process helps keep everyone civil and performing at their best. Do the right thing, pay it forward, and express your thankfulness when someone else’s effort leads to you performing better.


Lance Docken

Databar Events Team