Important ways to recognize and respect your fellow athletes with disabilities while on the race course
As a runner, you likely enjoy the sense of freedom you gain when you set out by yourself on a run. But, being part of a large, organized road race is a very different experience! There may be a few challenges even experienced runners may not anticipate, such as running with athletes with disabilities.
Achilles International is an organization that helps people with disabilities compete in mainstream athletic events.
Athletes could be on the course in a hand cycle or racing wheelchair, running on a prosthetic leg, or be a visually impaired or mobility impaired athlete running with a guide. Our athletes and guides wear neon yellow shirts for visibility. The words BLIND RUNNER, DEAF RUNNER and GUIDE are printed in bold, block letters on the front and back of the shirts. You may also see a GUIDE bib or an athlete may be wearing a BLIND or DEAF reflective vest.
As a fellow runner, please be aware of the following guidelines to help support these athletes and ensure they have a safe and successful race:
- Be aware of athletes with disabilities on the course and take caution not to swerve or stop suddenly in front of them. Pass on the left, leaving enough space between you and them. Yell loudly “ON YOUR LEFT” to signal your approach.
- Never tap a disabled runner on the shoulder, even to congratulate them, as it can lead to a startle, loss of balance and subsequent fall.
- Respect the tether. If you see a hand-held or rope tether connecting two athletes, or see a shirt that says “GUIDE” closely leading another runner, please DO NOT break through the tether or cut the pair off. This also applies to any other athlete and guide pairing who are running side by side.
- Racing wheelchairs and hand cycles should pass on the left, so keep to the right if you see one approaching. Many hand cycles will have fluorescent orange or yellow flags to identify them. The majority of wheelchair racers and hand cyclists start in advance of lead runners; however some may be mixed in the pack.
- Reduce the volume on your headphones, if you use them, so you can be aware of your surroundings. It is important that you hear verbal cues or announcements from athletes with disabilities and/or their guide.
- Be alert and aware that you are sharing the course with athletes who share the same drive, determination, and love of running as you do, but who need an extra degree of mindfulness!
We wish all runners and walkers an enjoyable, safe race, and support each athlete’s efforts to reach their full potential with every stride toward the finish line!