Running Info

Running Etiquette – Passing At The Finish Line: Fair Game?

running etiquette

The other day I was on Facebook and saw a post about how it was distasteful for runners to be sprinting at the end of long races and passing people.  I was totally taken aback because I always pull out a finishing kick and gun down the last few hundred metres because I just want the race to be over with! I was always told to leave everything out on course and I try to do so every time.


This made me think back to the summer when American runner Emily Infeld passed her teammate, Molly Huddle, in the last few steps due to an early celebration and won bronze in the women’s 10 000 at World’s. A comment on a running forum had stated that Huddle should have given the medal back to Infeld because she “stole” it from her by sprinting pass during Huddle’s early celebration.

My personal take on this finish line running etiquette is that a race is a race! For the TOWomen’s 5K, another runner and I passed each other back and forth in the last 200M. I did not find it rude that she passed me and I don’t consider myself rude for passing her back. Maybe if she had thrown an elbow I’d consider it as rude but to me, the last few metres are still as fair of a game as the rest of the race.

However, I was curious to see what my fellow (non-Huddle leveled) runners to see what their opinions were on this racing etiquette and here’s what they had to say on this running etiquette:

Angela from Cowgirl Runs:

If you’ve got it in you, go for it! I don’t think it’s distasteful at all. When I ran with my mom a few weeks ago we had an all out battle to the finish and it was super fun! I think the only case it would be in poor form is if a rude comment were to be made, but a rude comment without sprinting past would be in poor form, too.

Amanda from Phoenix Fitness:

When I’m running a race, I’m competing against myself. And if sprinting across the finish gets me a new PR, then that’s what I’ll do! It isn’t meant to offend anyone else. If someone is offended by my sprinting, then they probably need to adjust their focus.

Lisa from RunWiki:

A few years back someone tripped me as they were trying to pass (It was an accident however they were being aggressive)… I was a few steps from a PR, so my race was ruined. In another race, someone passed me and put their arms up– my finish photo was ruined. I am all for passing people but do so with respect and concern for the people around you.

Laura (@agfmom)

Run your best! If you can still sprint, by all means go for it with gusto!

Mike from Paramedic Mike

It’s selfish for people to expect you not to pass them.

Rebecca from Running Food Baby

In other races you can be beat by a hundredth/thousandth of a second. We all saw what happened with Molly Huddle at Worlds. Go through the line.

Tracey from For The Love of Family

Your not done until you cross the finish line, every runner still on course is passable.

Leana from Runner Leana

I think the one caveat to passing at the finish line is at Ironman. After 15+ hours of moving forward it is really nice to enjoy your moment running down the carpet to the finish line. I’d be a little disappointed if someone really wanted to race and pass me at the end (and bust in front of my finish line photo)! Otherwise I would say passing at the finish line is a fair thing to do. Everyone has their own kick to the finish and I wouldn’t be offended.

Kaila from Healthy Helper

It’s a race right up until the end!

Jennifer from Runs With Pugs

It’s a race. It’s bad form to shove, elbow, trip or otherwise interfere with someone else’s finish, but there is absolutely no reason to hold back that final kick at the end.

Marcia from Marcia’s Healthy Slice

Distasteful? I disagree. My daughter passed someone in the final stretch and the lady got so mad she pushed her then went under the chute rope to try to get in front of her. I don’t get it. (For the full story, click here!)

Janice from Fitness Cheerleader 

Interfering with someone else’s race is distasteful. Running your butt off as hard as you can including a finishing kick is how a race is meant to be run.

Morgan from Wildly Fit

I don’t even know what the other runners are doing in those last few metres. All I focus on is myself and the finish line

Ariana from Evolution by Ariana

Disagree 100%. If you’ve got it in you to sprint I say go for it! I often hold back during longer races to prevent any injury flare-ups from happening. But within that last mile or so I know I’m good, even if something does start to hurt, so I push as hard as I can until I get across the line.

Kelli from Destination Awesome

I think a dead sprint (i.e. 100m dash looking form) at the end of a long race is a giveaway of poor pacing. If you are locked in a neck and neck sprint with your direct competition to win the race or an age group award then I get it, otherwise just continue to push hard through the finish! And try not to photobomb someone’s finisher picture.

So what’s your take on this running etiquette? Fair game or no?

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22 thoughts on “Running Etiquette – Passing At The Finish Line: Fair Game?

  1. I always do a final kick for the last 200m or so just because it’s still a race! Yes, running is always a competition with yourself first and foremost, but any race is still a bunch of people competing with each other.

    But, it’s a problem when the last dash slows another runner down, like if there’s some physical contact or runner gets startled right at the end and stumbles! Sure, it’s an accident 99.99% of the time, but the finish line is always so super focused and an adrenaline rush, so it’d be really poor form to take that away from someone else.

    Just my 2 coppers on the matter. 🙂

  2. Great article!
    I totally agree…if you have a sprint finish in you go for it! be respectful of others in the race ( no elbows or knocking ). I have sprinted to the finish many times as once I see the finish line and the time clock adrenaline kicks in and bam I’m overtaken.

  3. For me it is a race- and in races your aim is to get to the finish as fast as possible. If you have some extra in the tank use it. of course do not attempt to trip or otherwise hurt or impede someone crossing the line. there is usually enough room for those crossing to finish.

    But yes pass away and if they are celebrating early even better.

  4. I’m usually the one who gets passed at the finish line but hey I think it’s fair game, do it to it! Honestly with little effort you can change a pace of 10 to 9:50 fairly easy just in the last half a mile so I try when I can. Great read on this!

  5. As long as you aren’t physically hurting somebody, getting yourself to the finish line as quickly as you can is definitely fair. Plenty of runners keep just a tiny bit of gas in them so that they can sprint during the last part of the race.

  6. Seriously? We are having a debate about RACING and passing people while doing so?! 🙂 I say find another way of running if you don’t want to be passed, or train harder. Of course, I’m not okay with the distasteful passing of tripping, rude comments, etc.

  7. I think it’s definitely fair to pass at the finish line. It serves Huddle right for celebrating early. Those last 5 meters of the course are STILL part of the course. Save the celebration for after. Or better yet, demonstrate some sportsmanship and tone down the celebration.

  8. If it is distasteful to pass then I am guilty as charged. I ALWAYS sprint to the finish- I am going to give it my all, it has nothing to do with those running next to me.

  9. I saw those comments too about how Molly deserved the win, and also how it was in poor taste by Emily bc they were on the same team. Idk…I disagree. I think run through the line, it is always anyone’s race. Why does Emily deserve the medal less just because they are all on the same team?? I always try to kick at the end of the race and pass as many people as I can 🙂

  10. Always always always sprint at the end! Always! Lol besides even if you pass someone at the finish it doesn’t necessarily mean you even beat their time, because who knows what corral they started in.

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