Most races won't permit non-registered runners. Try running with a pace group, instead.
DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
I was curious to know whether races allow non-registered runners/volunteers to help pace or run with registrants that need a little extra help or encouragement in the last 10-K of a marathon. Similar to having a friend waiting for me at mile 22 when I'm hitting the wall, can this person be allowed to run with me for a few miles for extra encouragement or provide me with water/gel? Thanks, Mo
Thanks for your question. As a general practice, races do not allow or encourage non-registered runners from jumping into the race anywhere along the course to help pace or encourage a registered runner in the race. I know this is the case with most major marathons and road races in the United States. However, if you are running in a smaller race, perhaps a phone call to the race director or race management group is warranted and you may find that they have no major problem with you having someone do this as described. However, I would think that most will discourage you from doing so. Of course, in the "elite" competition of all races, especially races sanction by USATF, this is strictly prohibited.
To explain a bit further, some of the issues in doing this are:
- Allowing an unregistered runner to be on the course - not knowing who this person is.
- Adding to the already congested course in many races.
- They did not pay to participate and may end up taking water, or food at the finish, or even a finisher's medal.
- They may even need medical support themselves which would just further tax an already busy program.
- Fairness - is it fair to allow some participants to do this when others can not?
Additionally, many races now are employing the use of official "pacers" in their races. These folks are authorized by the race to run at a pre-determined, consistent and steady pace throughout the race. They usually carry a sign with them displaying the finish time (and / or pace per mile) they are planning to run. Runners looking to run a similar time will simply attempt to run along side that pacer for the entire distance. This method then makes it fair to everyone in the race as everyone has an equal opportunity to run with a pacer.
Hope this helps you plan out your race strategy a little bit better.