When you’re running a 5k, whether for the first or hundredth time, you don’t want to screw up any of the little details that are easy to forget due to pre-race jitters. One of those important details is your number plate!

You need to pick up your number plate and make sure it is positioned properly, or you might run into timing issues and not get the right time or listed as a finisher! (Some races are strict enough you could get disqualified for not placing your number plate perfectly!)

So here is what to do:

Step 1: Get your number plate and safety pins.

The first thing to do is get your number plate and four safety pins at the registration tent.

This is a great time to ask them where exactly to put your number. It will most likely get centered on your stomach or on your right hip. It might also go on your left hip – it just depends on the finish chute, where there will be a volunteer on one side to tear off the tab and order them for results.

Also, it’s important that officials can see your number to know you’re actually in the race. (In some big races, if you don’t have a number plate, you’ll be escorted off the course by security.)

Step 2: Line up your number plate.

This is easiest to do with a friend lending a hand, or you could do it while your shorts or shirt are lying on a chair. Or do it while wearing your outfit. (That’s not hard when the number is going on your stomach or hip, but if it was going on your back, it would be quite rough!)

Step 3: Pin it down.

With the number in place, it’s time to pin it down. If you’re short on time, you could just stick the pins through the holes on the plate, but I prefer to use a technique called “flat pinning.”

Flat pinning is where you pin through the number plate itself (rather than using the pre-punched holes.) This holds the number down closer to your shirt so it doesn’t flap in the wind.

Near each corner, place the pin through the number plate, down through your shirt, back up through your shirt, and back through the number plate. Then close the pin.

When done properly, the number will lay flat against your shirt.

The critical step here is DO NOT pin down the tear-off tab. That’s the bottom section of the number plate that has your information, right below the perforated line. They need to tear that off at the finish line, and they can’t tear it off if it is pinned to your shirt.

Now, get to the start line!

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