First-Timers FAQs for Track Meets

Never attended an FLRC track meet before? Welcome! There’s little we enjoy more than sharing our love of track with newcomers of all ages and abilities. We’ve developed this list of answers to frequently asked questions so you can have a sense of what happens at our track meets before you arrive. Also feel free to ask questions of our VP of Track, Adam Engst, or of any volunteer once you’re at the meet.

Registration

Do I need an account to register for the track meet?

Yes, sorry. DirectAthletics, the site we use for registration, requires that each runner have their own account unless they’re part of a team, at which point the coach creates and manages the account for each runner. Awkwardly, parents with multiple children will need to create a separate account for each child. Please don’t create family “teams” because it makes more work for us in separating them from large club and school teams.

What is a seed time and how do I figure out what to enter?

Seed times are important because they help us assign you to a heat where you will be running with others of similar speed. Your seed time is the estimated time it will take you to complete the event. For example, a 3-year-old runner may complete the 100m run in 45 seconds, while a novice teenager may complete it in 20 seconds. You can estimate a seed time by doing some practice runs and timing yourself. Or, guess based on the ages and times you see in the results for a previous track meet on the FLRC site. If you are unsure if you put an appropriate seed time, ask for help at the registration desk.

Does it cost extra to run multiple events?

No, your entry fee covers the meet as a whole, and many of our participants run 2–4 events. We encourage everyone to take the opportunity to run events you’ve never tried before!

What ages are allowed to participate? Will I be too slow?

We have no age restrictions or speed requirements. The youngest finisher (in the 60m dash) was 1, and our oldest competitor (in the mile) was 93. We regularly have children under 10 and adults in their 60s and beyond.

If I register my young child, can I run beside them in the same or adjacent lane?

Yes, we’re happy to accommodate young children who might be scared of running by themselves. If you register yourself with your child, give an identical seed time and request at the registration desk to be in adjacent lanes. If you do not wish to register yourself, you can notify the clerk-of-course at race check-in that you wish to run in the same lane as your child. We also generally start races with very young children with a whistle rather than a loud starting gun.

Can I participate in a relay with friends even if we’re not a formal team?

Absolutely! We’re very relaxed about relays, and any group of 2–4 people can participate in a relay. All you need to do is fill out a relay card for your team with the names and bib numbers of all four runners.

When You Arrive

When should I arrive?

We recommend that you arrive at least 45–60 minutes before your first event is estimated to begin. Estimated start times are released the night before, along with the heat assignments.

How do I check-in for my event?

When you arrive, you first need to pick up your bib number from registration. A few minutes before your event starts, we will make an announcement on the PA system to gather with the clerk-of-course and other racers so you can check in for your specific heat.

Get Ready for Your Event

What should I wear?

You should wear whatever you are most comfortable running in. Most athletes run in shorts and a tank top or t-shirt, but some athletes run in tights or sweatpants.

What do I do with my bib number?

Use the pins that we provide to put your bib number on the front of your shirt. Do not trade or share bib numbers with another person because that confuses our results.

What should I do to warm up?

We recommend you do a few minutes of jogging or dynamic stretching before your event to warm up. If you have a warm-up routine you normally do before a hard run, that’s the best thing to do.

What are heats?

Most of our events have more athletes than can run at a single time, so we divide the race into different sections called heats. Heats are arranged so that people who run similar speeds will be in the same heat. Heats are broken up only by estimated seed time and not by gender or age.

How do I know what heat I’m in?

We publish initial heat assignments the day before the race and post updated heat assignments at the meet. They will also be available at the registration desk. Note that the clerk-of-course may change your assigned heat  (normally by no more than one) during heat setup due to cancellations and day-of registrations. Heats are run from slowest seed times to fastest.

Running Your Event

How does the race start?

We will announce on the PA system when athletes in a given race should gather near the starting line. The clerk-of-course will collect the athletes in the heat that is next up and then line you up on the track. You will be told where to stand on the line or which lane you need to be in for races that start in separate lanes. You will also be told if you need to stay in your lane or if/when you can cut into the inside lane.

The race will start with a bullet-free starter’s gun. If you are uncomfortable with this, you can ask the starter to switch to a whistle.

What lane should I run in?

For short sprints (60m and 200m indoors, and 100m, 200m, and 400m outdoors), you should run entirely in the lane you’re assigned at the start. Our timing system relies on you finishing in the lane you started in.

For intermediate sprints (400m indoors), certain relays, and separated starts for larger middle distance races, you’ll run the first three-quarters of a lap in your assigned lane and then move to lane 1 for the rest of the race.

For all other races, you can and should move into lane 1 as soon as it’s safe to do so. Stay in lane 1 for the entire race unless you need to pass a slower runner. Always pass on the outside—move out to lane 2—and then return to lane 1. If you’re being passed, stay in lane 1 and let the faster running pass on the outside.

Never step inside the innermost white line on the left side of lane 1. Technically, that’s ground for disqualification, although we would likely only issue a warning.

Do I have to keep track of my laps in long events?

Yes. We keep track of the leader’s laps, but all other participants are responsible for counting their own laps. Some people ask family/friends/coaches to help them count, others use the lap button on their watch, some move rubber bands from one wrist to the other on each lap.

Where can my family/friends sit/stand to watch me run?

They can either sit in the stands, anywhere along the outside of the track, or on the inside of the track, preferably beyond the finish line. Although it’s tempting to stand in the final straightaway before the finish line, we discourage that because our timers need a clear view of the runners finishing. People in that area should stand well back from the edge of the track to avoid blocking the timers’ sight lines.

After Your Event

What should I do after I finish?

Immediately after you cross the finish line, do not walk away. Instead, listen for instructions from the volunteers managing the finish line. They may ask for your bib number, if it wasn’t visible when you crossed, or they may ask you to line up in order of the finish so they can establish the official finishing order. Try to remember which runners were immediately ahead of you if possible (it’s hard, we know).

After you’re released from the finish line, be careful when crossing the track because other runners may still be competing.

Should I do anything special if I’m running multiple events?

Particularly if it’s cool weather, it’s worth putting some extra clothes on so you don’t get cold and tighten up. Resist the temptation to sit or lie down—it’s best to keep moving so your muscles stay loose. Unless your next event is coming very soon, you’ll likely want to do another warm-up session before it.

Where can I learn how fast I ran or where I finished?

We post full results for every event during the meet, usually during the next longer distance event. Listen for an announcement on the PA system for when the results are up. You might want to take a photo of the results with your phone for later reference, but we also post all the results on the FLRC website, usually within a day or two.