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Painting a Straight Line

I’ve seen start and finish lines that were pretty sloppy, and it doesn’t have to be. The problem is that the line-painter has a badly-calibrated eyeball. Mine isn’t so hot.

I had a chalk line left over from a construction job, and found it to be very handy for painting start and finish lines. You give the thing a shake, to agitate the chalk within, then draw the string out of the case until it is long enough to span the road. This is a two-person job. You lower the ends to the roadway, keeping the line tight. When it’s all the way down you give it a pluck, the line snaps, and a nice chalk line is on the road, ready to be painted.

No need to buy a chalk line. You can do just as well with any old piece of string. Put it down, stretch it tight, and paint. Then throw away the nasty, painty string. Hint: Have your helper pick it up.
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Good ideas. When I want a "professional" Looking start or finish line, I use a stencil.

Last year I was on the way to paint the start and finish for the Fairfield Half Marathon, I passed one of the numerous "raze and rebuild" construction jobs going on in the area. There was a dumpster full of scrap wood cutoffs, and I spied (and grabbed) two 8 foot long pieces of trim about 1.5 inches wide and about 1/4 inch thick.

I lay both of them down parallel, about 2 inches apart, then paint the area in between. I keep sliding the boards across the road until I've painted its width.

Not only are the lines straight, they have a very sharp edge, like the start and finish lines on a track.

Dragging the scrap wood stencils around is a bit of a pain, so I usually only do this for bigger, important races.
I use Bob Thurstons method a lot. Duct tape rules!

One advantage, we can put the tape down on race day and not worry about people trecking the paint or chalk around.

The only thing that may be a problem is rain on the day you put it down. Thats true with paint too.

Tape the start and finish. If you want a painted line, put down two tape stripes and paint in the gap. Better to make several light applications than one thick runny one that bleads under the tape.

Do not apply tape in sections, roll out in air, pull tight and lower to the ground.

Walk back and forth on tape to make sure it's stuck down all over.

Tuck one end over to make a pull tab. Makes it easy to remove. Parks like it when you clean up and don't leave paint stripes on the roads.
I know the town of Greenwich ([in]famous for banning "outsiders" from the beach at Tod's Point) no longer allows any kind of painted arrows, even chalk. A real pain for the RDs there, as tape takes a lot longer to put down, must be removed after, and people can pull it up or screw around with it. I doubt I could even use it for the winter races I put on.
Duct tape - especially for 5Ks - is a godsend. When the RD realized I had done it you could have knocked him over with a feather.

We had the same problem with a rainy race day. Fortunately, I put down the start/finish lines the night before...the mile splits were substituted for a VERY clear course map telling the volunteers where the first, second and third mile splits were.
I've painted marks at the side of the road to note mile splits, only to have 90% of the participants not realize the mark existed. A straight tape line gives a clear message - 'you have passed a split.' Especially helpful when dead-head course volunteers don't read off splits, etc.
I have not used ductape for splits, we normaly have paint and nails. We do try to put down ductape start and finish lines the night before.

We are in Florida, the race starts just after sunrise so we are putting out mile marks and clocks in the dark. To find the marks in the dark we prep the day before by bang in wooden stakes at each split point. The posts are pre-painted with very bright marking paint. That way we can find them in the dark on race day. They show up fine in my cars headlights.

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