Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

Have you ever gotten to the start line of a race late? I have, plenty of times. But why is this a concern? Most of us don’t really care if we miss our starting time, especially if we’re not competing for time or a podium spot. Other people are, however, and getting to the starting corral late can significantly impact their overall results for that particular event. There is always an opportunity cost associated with getting somewhere on time, which can be rewarding if we simply make it a habit to wake up a few minutes earlier than we usually do.

“People are late because they don’t want to be early… “

How true is that? Research has shown that people, on average, underestimate how long a task will take to complete by 40%. Americans tend to have between 1 and 10 or more alarms in their phones to wake them up in the morning, which I personally find ridiculous, and I’m sorry if you get offended. I know people who have multiple alarms with a 5-minute difference just so that they can “snooze” the phone and sleep an extra 5 minutes, which eventually turns into 30 minutes, thus making them late all the time.

But there’s hope! New research on our internal clock suggests that there are ways to break the pattern. It’s easy, and eventually, our internal clock will wake us up without the need for an alarm. I’ve practiced this before and I can proudly say that I don’t need an alarm to wake me up every morning. In fact, most days I wake up exactly 1 minute before my alarm goes on. Crazy right? Habits take around 21 days to form, start today by simply deleting some of those extra alarms on your phone and progressively bring the number down to one and only one alarm. I promise you will develop the habit of waking up on time in a blink of an eye.

What happens when you’re on time for a race?

  • You don’t run the risk of missing your starting wave.
  • You will get an official, accurate time once you cross the finish line because you started as scheduled by the race organizers.
  • You get to listen to the briefing prior to the start which usually includes rules and/or directions provided by race organizers or the race MC.
  • You have enough time to: register/sign in, eat something (this is a personal choice); do some dynamic stretches or light warm up (highly recommended by professionals and coaches), hang out with friends, get all your gear and nutrition ready, use the bathroom (pre-race poops are a MUST for me), etc.

What happens when you’re NOT on time for a race?

Most races won’t let you start on your assigned wave if you get late to the start line. Others are more permissible, but you will be penalized in terms of timing. For races like Spartan Race, if you miss your start line you will be able to still run, but your results will not be placed in that particular wave. For example, if you’re running Age Group (34-39) and were supposed to start at 9:30 am but start at 9:45 am, you will be moved to OPEN, therefore your time will not be counted towards your Age Group category. And it would be very frustrating for someone to see that they could have won a place on the podium in their Age group but didn’t because they were moved to OPEN just for missing their start time. So, please don’t be this guy/gal; you will regret it.

Why do people get late to events?

It’s funny because this does not only apply to OCR but any event: weddings, baby showers, funerals, getting to the airport, a date, etc… but I am specifically referring to OCR events in this post. After doing some research within some of the main OCR groups on Facebook, of the most common causes for people getting late to the races they sign up for, the biggest one being “lack of time management.” It’s crazy how we as humans lack the will power to force ourselves to follow a predetermined plan. I decided to write this article in order to try to open people’s eyes towards making a healthier change in their lifestyles.


How many of us have missed our starting time just because we couldn’t get on time to the start line due to personal irresponsibility and lack of time management, and not for anything else? Sometimes we get to the event on time, but we decide to hang around and then we start to get ready last minute and end up missing our wave because we didn’t have time to put our compressions socks on time. How relatable is this? Be honest with yourself, we all know this is a very common thing in the OCR world. And then we complain with the race directors when in reality we should ask ourselves: why did I take so long putting my tights on?

Before race day:

Prior to a race, I suggest you:

  • Make a list of the things you need to do and prep ahead
  • Get your race gear ready (pack extra change of clothes)
  • Have ready whatever nutrition or hydration (if any) you’ll need for the race
  • Plan your commute and have a plan B (traffic, a flat tire, etc; can play a huge impact on you getting on time to the event on race day)
  • Bring cash for parking and bag check (you don’t want to get to the venue and then have to drive to the nearest ATM because you don’t have cash on you)

If you do these things and create a habit of waking up on time, you should always be where you have to be at the time you WANT to be and not at the time you COULD have been. Know the difference between these, as it will immensely impact your punctuality for the rest of your life in a positive way.

Don’t be late again!

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