Unauthorized Bib Selling Goes Unchecked on MarathonGuide and Craigslist


If you search on marathonguide.com’s bulletin boards  or Craigslist, you see a variety of posts from people looking to buy and sell race entries. For some races, like The Pittsburgh Marathon, transfers are allowed.  For most others, like Boston, transfers are prohibited.




Despite Boston’s clear policy on transfers, the sellers and buyers are allowed to post on marathonguide.


There are also a number of bibs for sale for The Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon Weekend- which is two months away. There are a number of people looking for 5k bibs (sold out) and someone selling their half marathon bib. Transfers are not allowed.

These posts are nothing new for marathonguide. I love marathonguide.com for their race reviews and results. When I raced, I always read the reviews . Now, their site is my primary resource when looking for a runner’s history.

But, they are doing a disservice to the running community, and the races by allowing this behavior.  In my opinion, they should moderate their posts and not allow any buy/sell/transfer posts for races that do not allow it.


On The Boston Craigslist, there are posts from buyers and sellers of bibs. These posts will increase in #s over the next few weeks.



I kind of hope this guy sells this bib so he can be caught and banned. But for $5000? If they complete this transaction, there is no way that they wouldn’t end up at the top of my list to review. If someone incapable of running a BQ time is in the first corral/first wave, I will get dozens of tips as well.


Make it harder on these buyers, and sellers. I am not recommending that you harass the people that post on the boards. However, you can ask them for details. You can keep them busy. You can inform them that what they are doing is against policy. Make it more trouble than it’s worth to try to sell/buy bibs. Agree to meet them, and don’t show up. What they are doing is against the terms that the sellers agreed to when signing up for the races. Some sign up only to sell their bib and make a profit. For Boston, those types of entries keeps legitimate runners out of the race.

If you see sellers on craigslist, report their post. If enough people report specific posts, then Craigslist automatically removes them. I will allow links to craigslist posts and new marathonguide ads in the comments. Respond to the ads and try to find out the identity of the seller. Report them – to Boston or to me. Make it difficult for them to succesfully complete their transaction

If you want to legitimately transfer your bib and are looking for someone to transfer it to, I would recommend checking out bibswitch.com. They are advocates for races allowing transfers, and work with races to legitimately transfer bibs from buyer/seller. I have no affiliation with bibswitch, but I love what they are offering. You won’t be able to get into Boston this way. But if you legitimately want to sell your bib, and mitigate your loss of registration fees, this is the way to go.


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  1. You can report the item to Craigslist.

    Their prohibited items include “counterfeit, replica, or pirated items; tickets or gift cards that restrict transfer”

  2. This is something about races I never understood! Why races don’t allow runners to transfer their bibs and charge for it! The first time I noticed a race allowing transfers was the Yellow Half Marathon. I understand about the non refund but, allow for either bib transfers or deferments!

    It should be a industry standard to transfer a bib through the race director and charge a fee maybe $25, for the process. OR allow runners to defer their entry until next year, again for that $25 fee!

    • Hi David – Here’s my experience working for a company that produces a marathon that was one of the first to allow transfers and deferrals, and no longer does. (We now have an entry fee insurance option.) We first added a transfer/deferral option about 12 years ago. No fee. Had a reasonable deadline, about 30 days out. No questions asked, any reason was ok. Administratively, it took a ton of time to manage. You wouldn’t think it would, but it did. Eventually we went to deferrals only. The amount of grief we got from entrants because our system didn’t allow just exactly what they wanted was HUGE!!

      For this year we partnered with one of the new race insurance services. That’s the direction I think races are going to move towards.

  3. agreed. report them to craigslist, enter in dummy bids, etc. make their life miserable.

    Also, I hope the BAA has an internal effort to investigate, weed out, and then deal with anyone who sells their bib. Also, anyone who sells their bib as a charity runner and then qualifies because someone else ran for them, should be banned for life. Also, the charity needs to be put on notice, as well. They have an extraordinary opportunity to raise significant dollars via this great event. I’m sure they don’t want to get tarnished by this.

  4. This “why cant I transfer,” crap is pathetic. the ignorance of some of the commentators is extraordinary: follow the freaking rules OR don’t sign up for a race. If you can’t run, then you have to forfeit your place. Again, read the rules AND stop asking why. If you can’t figure out Why, especially for races like NYC and Boston, then you’re too stupid or self absorbed. Nobody put a gun to your head to sign up. If you’re so against the rules of the race, DON’T SIGN UP IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! (if you’re truly benignly ignorant and new to this, do a search of Derek’s posts on here and elsewhere and he will explain why) IF the race permits it, then you can do it. got it?!

    • I don’t think it is “pathetic.” I think it is a legitimate question as to why more races don’t offer the opportunity for registered runners who can’t run due to injury, illness, or some other unforeseen circumstance to either defer or transfer their entry to another runner.

      I just found out last night that a friend of mine is injured and won’t be able to run Boston. So now that spot is going to sit empty. There are qualified runners out there who didn’t get in because they made their qualifier but missed the cutoff of whatever it was this year(around 2 minutes or so). Why doesn’t the BAA keep a list of all qualified entrants and allow someone like my friend to transfer her bib to the next qualified runner on this list? That way the limited spot doesn’t go unfilled and another deserving runner gets to run. Now, I do see that there could be some logistical challenges here – the runners on the “wait list” would need to train as if they were running and potentially not get in. But most people who qualify to run Boston are serious runners that probably keep themselves in shape year round.

      As it is with a lot of these races one needs to sign up over 6 months in advance. A lot of things can happen in 6 months and I think our sport would do better to offer some sort of transfer/deferral policy for athletes that can’t run for whatever reason.

      • Because races like Boston already consider normal levels of attrition in their registration limits. They accept more runners than they expect to run the race, expecting a certain percentage will not be able to run. So the drops are not really opening up space for new runners.

        It would be a lot more work to fill to the limit and then keep a wait list to fill later with drops.

        • So you’re saying that when they claim that the field is capped at 30,000 they don’t really mean it.

          It seems to me that based on what I’ve seen in my past race’s record books that they only have about a 2 to 3 percent rate of people dropping out or failing to start. That’s small enough to not make a real difference on the course if they all ended up running. So why not allow those who know they can’t run transfer their bib to a qualified runner. Yeah, I get it would be a little more work on the BAA’s part, but it would certainly be more athlete friendly.

          I’m aware that there are other logistical issues but I would like to see as many qualified athletes get the opportunity to run as possible.

          • It’s just the way they chose to do it. Which means it’s incorrect to say that a no-show is a space they could give to someone else. They figure in on those no-shows. They are still running the race with “as many qualified runners” as they intend to.

            Yes, they COULD admit less runners initially, keep a wait-list, and then admit wait-list runners after registered runners give up their entry. This would likely make the race entry fee cost more than it already is. So they choose to do it the easier way to get the numbers they want.

            Even if it is only 2-3%, that’s 600-900 runners less that they would admit, and then have to administer the wait-list replacements.

            Remember that this has only even been an issue for the last ten years or so (before that Boston didn’t even fill up), and in that time they have increased the field to allow more runners when they can.

          • This makes no sense. What qualified runner who wants to run Boston, doesn’t get in? I might use my BQ this year but if I knew I could sell my bib later on I sure as hell would sign up. So less spots are open initially. And then a month out from the race when I sell my bib, the RD has to verify these new entries into the race to make sure they have qualifying times and reassign starting corrals. Try organizing an event with 30K people and tell me you’d like to deal with that. Deferrals would be nice but that’s just not how it’s done. And really, it’s not like they’re hurting to get people to sign up. I don’t totally get it, but the reason people want to run Boston so badly is in part because it’s somewhat exclusive. I wouldn’t be caught dead in that hideous teal windbreaker, but people wear them to show off that they ran it.

    • Grey you have to be one of the dumbest person to ever post on here! You sign up for a race let’s say 6 months before the race. Your training is going well and then you sprain your ankle or get into a car accident a week before the race or something happens to a family member! How would you feel? You’re out the money for the race, you or a family member is sick/hurt. If races allowed for deferments or transfers this wouldn’t be an issue.

      Notice races say NO EXCEPTIONS so you could be in a cast and your lose your registration fees!!

  5. I am registered for Boston and unable to run this year. While I’m not happy about swallowing the (sizable) entry fee, I knew that was a risk when I registered. I highly doubt that dude is going to get $5000 for his bib – that’s insane.

    It would be great (for marathons that don’t require a qualifying time but are extremely popular) to have some kind of transfer policy, similar to Marine Corps. You can transfer your registration and the other person’s name will actually show in the results – they charge a fee ($50) and let the 2 people determine on their own how to handle the initial registration fee. That’s very reasonable for races where you must sign up so far in advance, and things can come up that prevent you from running. Obviously you couldn’t do that for Boston since it’s a qualifier race, but with the charity options available ANYONE who was truly motivated could run the race in a legit way.

  6. No one would do this if the marathons allowed transfers like Pittsburgh and Grandma’s. They make more money by not allowing transfers, and that creates this black market and the safety issues

    Any sold out race should pay insurance as if all runners would show. They get a discount by insuring the race with the assumptions of no shows. Then let people return bibs for 75-80% so they can resell them.

    Don’t pressure the little guy when the big marathons are printing money

  7. Here’s a thought. Someone needs to be out in Hopkinton with a camera when the first few corrals are filling up on raceday. I was there racing last year and you could easily pick out a few who had no business being in 1/1 or 1/2. I saw two older guys with beer bellies with 1xx bibs. Once you have shots of those “out of place” runners, it’s easy to identify the bib seller.

      • I wonder if I’ll get caught up your algorithm this year. Wave 1 / corral 6 but I’ll probably drop back and start in wave 3 due to injury. It’s not bad enough to keep me out of the race but I’m undertrained due to time off and rehab. My first Boston’s gonna have to be a fun run, not an attempt to requalify as originally planned.

        Best case, I’ll be about 30 minutes slower than my qualifying time. Worst case… who knows? Hopefully not 2 hours! Hope I don’t waste too much of your time clearing my result. 🙂

        But yeah… under no circumstances did I contemplate selling or giving away my bib if the injury was bad enough to sit it out.

        • LOL, I was wondering if I was in it last year. I ran a 3:07 to get into Boston but ran 3:53 there because I ran with my dad.

          Curious if I got “flagged.” Of course in most of the pictures from Boston my dad is present and our finish time was exactly the same so it should be clear that we were running together.

          • Actually, you weren’t. I have to quit saying ‘flagged’ I prioritize the results based on all the factors. You were around # 2000 on the list. I don’t go that far down. Lots of people were slow because of the heat amongst other factors.

      • Any chance of looking in to the NYC races. There were a ton of people in the qualifying corral at the NYC Half who I had to weave through for the first 1/2 mile. I’m not sure if NYRR posts corral information publicly, but It’d be interesting to check the qualifying standard against what people actually ran.

  8. Other than Boston, which requires a qualifying time, I could not possibly care less about people selling/giving away their bibs. If races really were concerned about people on course with inaccurate medical information, they would create a policy to allow transfers at least, if not deferrals. Don’t necessarily change bibs or t-shirt sizes – who cares about that, and perhaps supplies are already purchased.
    I have directed a number of races. I have heard that races count on DNS’s, but as an RD, I would never rely on a variable number. I assume those who are registered are coming. I allowed free transfers, as my events were small, but charge a fee for transfers to compensate for the effort. If the race doesn’t do this, I am not bothered by someone taking a slot that has been paid. I don’t consider it immoral like cheating or pure banditting, and frankly, if this site were to dedicate itself to this, I simply wouldn’t read the articles anymore.
    The only real problem I could see is if groups bought up registrations from popular events to resell at a profit, but if they had a process to handle transfers, it would be easier to curb “ticket scalping” if that was a problem.

  9. Hi Derek – Good luck getting Marathon Guide’s owner to do anything about his message boards. I have been emailing him (unless JE sold I have his direct email address) since last June about the wrong results posted for the marathon I work for. He has been completely unresponsive. It’s ridiculous, he has 1894 finishers listed, but we had to terminate early due to extreme heat so we only have 922 official finishers. I too love the site, use it all the time, but as far as responsibility it’s not happening on their part.

  10. I do not run marathons, I may someday, but I participate in triathlons and a large number of them have deferral/refund policies.

    Rev3, probably has the best because they will let you change your event in a race defer to the next year, or defer to another race in the same year.

    Ironman is a little wonky. They allow deferral to another race in the same calendar year and a minor amount of a refund (about 1/3 if you have a valid reason), so you are screwed on an end of year(lets say October) race for the deferral, but and I think it is a bit high you can pay race insurance and if you have to cancel for injury you will get all the money but the insurance fee back.

    I figure if these big companies can do it for triathlons then the big Marathons should be able to also, but I do think it should be done through the RD not person to person.

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