Banditing in races is wrong. I don’t focus on race bandits as much as course cutters and other forms of cheating. But make no mistake, people that copy others’ bibs are stealing. I would love to see the day when someone is taken to task for running in a race that they did not pay for. They are taking for free a service and a right that others pay for.
There is at least one case of a bandit getting injured and suing the race. From a liability standpoint, races need to know who is on the course. Banditing and bib swapping is a safety issue as well as a drain on race resources.
The more people that bandit a particular race, the more resources they use. I get tired of hearing the argument from the pro-banditing crowd that say that many of these people aren’t taking refreshments, or medals. I think the notion of the ‘moral bandit’ is an oxymoron. Someone that runs a half or full marathon as a bandit is likely taking full advantage of the support on the course. Bandits rais the costs for everyone else. The practice needs to stop.
It may take a race willing to press charges for ‘theft of services’ against bandits to really start to see change.
The Modesto Bandits
The couple pictured above forged or copied a bib of another runner. According to sources, it’s not the first time they have done this. Alicia Plancarte and Dagoberto Calderon were unrepentant when given the opportunity to come clean and pay for their entries.
The race became aware that these bandits would be running prior to the race. They were finally spotted running together near the finish chute. She passed through while he was approached by race officials.
According to the assistant race director, Karen Lozano:
We had people on the course looking for them but we didn’t find them until the finish chute. We saw the guy because he was wearing the bib, and pulled him over. He seemed very unapologetic and arrogant. We gave him the opportunity to make it right and pay for his entry. He just shrugged and said, “I think I’ll just call it good,” and walked away.
As far as Alicia. She made it past the finish line, but was confronted after:
She made it down the chute but ran to the bathroom when she noticed she was being followed. The volunteer who followed her asked what her bib number was and she said she thought it was 387. The volunteer called us, we ran to the bathrooms to wait for her to come out. When she exited, we asked to see her bib. She pulled out the fake bib out of her hydration pack. It was folded in a baggie. When we asked where she got it, she told us “from a friend.” When we told her we already knew it was a photocopy and it didn’t have a chip on it, she just shrugged.
This case is more egregious than most. They used deception in order to obtain the bib in order to copy it initially. Given the opportunity to “make it right” they refused. I asked another race official about the possibility of a ‘theft of service’ charge. The official said that they are exploring the possibility. I think it will just take one race to prevail in a theft of services case to lead to more races to go down that road. If runners know that they are risking a lawsuit by banditing, most would not take the risk.
According to a post from Running Flat Radio, this is not the first time they have engaged in this behavior.
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