Everybody Loves Raymund

The Ten Commandments of Race Marshals


The following post is inspired by my recent experience in the Greenfield Sunset Run 2010.

I am not griping or sourgraping. I am not criticizing the organizers who deserve to be credited for a well-organized race.

I raise the following concerns so that they may be addressed in future events. I have realized the need for professional race officials on the field.

Also, I have been reminded that there is no substitute to adequate preparation for a race. I know for a fact that I am physically prepared for it but yesterday was just one  “bad hair day”. Perhaps I was not prepared enough to overcome what was ahead of me, all things being considered.

I drove to the race venue and thus encountered a 2.5 hour traffic jam. It was a sunset run so my system was looking for dinner in the middle of the race. I did the 9 minute run, 1 minute walk technique with TBR, Miguel and Bobby but the frequent abrupt stops may not be for me. And so disaster hit. Regrettably, I was left alone.

Hence this post on the duties of Race Marshals.

Race Marshal Duties

1. Rules and Regulations. A race marshal should be familiar with the rules and regulations. They should make sure they have a copy of the rules.

2. Posts. They should remain in their posts and be available for all inquiries and complaints.

R: Manning of posts does not just mean that they are physically present. The marshals should be visible and attentive to the needs of the runners. They should be observant and report all incidents happening within their immediate surroundings.

3. Judgment Calls. Be prepared to make smart judgments.

R: Marshals should be alive, alert and enthusiastic. They play a crucial role in the success of the whole event. They serve as the eyes, ears and muscle of the race organizer. In case of doubt as to what action to take in a particular situation, the race director or official concerned should be notified immediately for an appropriate action.

4. Runners’ hospitality. Marshals duties include meeting the specific needs of runners. This includes escorting the runners from the hotels, parking area, assembly area to the starting line. They may even be made responsible for picking up personalities and assisting them after the race.

R: Serve with a smile. Running a race is enough physical and mental torture. Runners deserve to be treated well. At the very least a positive attitude is a must.

5. Course Set Up. Marshals set up portions of the race course such as aid stations, km markers, cones designed to define the race route. They also set up the aid tables and supplies.

6. Aid Stations. Marshals are tasked to set up aid stations including the tables, cups, sports drink and litter area. Cups should be filled with enough water and sports drinks to be handed out to runners as they pass the aid stations. Used cups and bottles should be swept away and placed in trash containers. Marshals should communicate with race officials to request for additional aid station supplies before they are actually needed. Aid stations should not only be stocked with water and sports drinks. Simple snacks like crackers, candies and fruits should be available.

R: Is it too much to ask for adequate water and sport drinks in the aid stations? In a hot and humid country like ours, you drink more often to keep hydrated. In most races I joined the limited supply of water and sports drinks is always an issue. At the start of the race, the aid stations are stocked. But once the supplies are consumed, there are no reserves. Nobody seems to monitor the supply and provide replenishment.

In my last race, I almost did not finish because I felt dizzy. There are several factors I consider. Shit happens. And when that time comes, there should be someone to respond to your needs. I cried out for help in every aid station I passed. Asking for some candy or anything to eat. I found refuge in the last bottle of sports drink in the third station I pleaded for help.

I also went to the ambulance on standby at the turn around point. I asked for candy or a banana. To my surprise, they did not have anything. Worse, the “paramedic” just asked me to sit down and rest then left me for five minutes. I asked to be brought back to the starting area but they said they had to wait for the last runner to cross. I said there were a lot of runners on the course struggling to finish and that I cannot wait. At that point I was simply starving.

In the last 4k of the 21k course I asked every marshal with a motorcycle to take me to the finish. I flagged at least 7 of them down every time. With 2k to go I decided to call it quits. I needed to save my strength for the long drive back home. My legs were stiff, my stomach grumbling and my head felt nauseous. All my cries for help were unheeded. I thought of faking fainting but that simple pride prevented me from doing that.

7. Course Maintenance. Marshals direct runner traffic and ensure the athletes are following the correct course. They also monitor the race, including the relaying of information like the leading runner, struggling runner, vehicle traffic and general information relevant to the race.

8. Course Tear Down. Part of their duties includes tearing down portions of the race course such as aid stations, km markers, cones designed to define the race route. The marshals should work with the course director.

9. Baggage Check and other property. Marshals and race organizers provide for baggage deposit counters for the runners’ bags and personal belongings. The runners’ bags will need to be monitored during the race and returned to the runner upon the return of the baggage claim tags. Aside from the runners’ bags, marshals should take care of all property left in their possession or within their post’s view.

10. Safety, Security from Start to Finish. Professional marshals and race officials should be pro-active keeping in mind that they are there to ensure a safe and secure racing event for all participants elite, novice or beginners alike. They should listen to the participants attending to their needs at all times. That’s what they are there for.


Optimistic before the disaster.

With Jun C., Mariel, Jay, Aljo, Bobby, Miguel, Jaymie, Art and little Adam.

Thanks to you guys for waiting for me. Thanks to Jay and Vims for keeping E company.

April 25, 2010 - Posted by | Running


  1. Yeah, we were really worried that for someone who has a finish time of not later than 2:13 for a 21k will not be passing the finish by 2:30 and worst 3hours. good thing that you even made it to the end by walking. 😉

    Comment by vimz | April 25, 2010

  2. thank you for the concern and your patience. we enjoyed dinner after.

    what’s ironic is I finished that course in 2:03 last year. my best 21k time.

    Comment by therainman96 | April 25, 2010

  3. I hope all race organizers read this and ensure that marshals understand their responsibilities for the safety of all runners.

    Bilib pa rin kami sayo Raymund. You still made it to the finish! Didn’t even see you stop. Hilo na rin siguro ako that time! Run on… I know you’ll be back with a vengeance.

    Mariel 🙂

    Comment by thesolemates | April 25, 2010

  4. i guess we really can’t experience a perfect race, the best thing we can do is really prepare for the worst everytime and just hope that the organizers come up with a well organized event. still, hats off to you for finishing last night’s race in gutom and hilo mode hehehe. ’til the next race, ‘ika nga ni LR, run on friends…

    Comment by bobby | April 25, 2010

  5. There are good days and there are bad days.

    I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect race. only well-organized. The Greenfield Sunset Run was great despite the marshals and aero med people.

    Comment by therainman96 | April 25, 2010

  6. para saan pa ang ambulansya kung di pwede ito gamitin. I cannot understand why they need to wait for the last runner to cross before they start the ambulance. ano ba yun kalsada maliit na eskinita? di ba pwede dumaan ambulansya kasabay ng mga runners? why?!

    Comment by lonerunner | April 26, 2010

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