Race Bandits Busted at Modesto Marathon


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.

Alicia Crossing The Finish Line – Dagoberto is in the background after being approached by race officials.
Dagoberto at the finish line – officials checking his bib.


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:

Alicia while being confronted after finishing.

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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  1. I don’t understand why this cannot, or is not, charged as a crime. They did steal, they did (I assume) use the course aid stations, etc., and they KNOW who they ARE.

    These RD’s need to start charging these people with crimes. Even if they get off it still becomes a deterrent.

    • I’m not supporting this, but they did have packs. Perhaps they didn’t take anything from the aid stations?

      • It takes a crazy amount of work to put together a race – from race professionals to medical professionals and dedicated volunteers, people are working hard. Photocopying a bib and then showing up and running it for free is theft, whether or not you use the aid stations. It’s also unfair to all the other runners, adding unpaying runners to the already crowded field. And if an thieving runner falls down and gets injured, they tax limited medical resources. These people are parasites.

      • what does this even mean?? it’s a free country but you have to pay taxes to be here. Those taxes are for services. This race cost money to put on. Running in the race without paying for it is theft. If you want to run the course when there’s no race on, feel ‘free.’ I hope I misunderstood your comment.

  2. It would seem that a motivated race director could at minimum take bandits like them to small claims court and easily prevail. A rightly accused party would likely pay before having to go to court.
    It would be interesting to see if any directors ever report banditing such as this to the police and go down that route as well. With rising race entry fees often >$100 for longer races, I would not be shocked.

  3. unreal. 1. Thanks again to the “volunteers” who support these races and have to confront these a-holes. 2. Theft of Services charges should be filed or a more serious crime of interfering with an sporting event (i.e, when someone runs onto the field at a sporting event –post 9/11–they are arrested and charged with a crime. This is the law in New York State. Frankly, they pose a threat to the well being of other runners by usurping resources (e.g, volunteers having to look out for them, etc).

    Derek, keep the pressure up and make sure these two (and others) learn a lesson. This is where internet shaming is a righteous tool since they just are too smug, stupid and arrogant to get it. Complete creeps.

  4. They should be on a banned list for all races and also the person who allowed them access to the original bib

  5. Perhaps this idea might work as a deterrent: upon crossing the finish line, runners must swap their physical bib to obtain their finishers medal.

    Officials will see immediately if a bib is not authentic and the offender will be identified.

    Those that don’t turn in a bib don’t get a time either.

    No bib, no medal, no time. What do you think?

    People have to stand in line to get their finisher shirt anyway…wouldn’t this be possible as well? I’d be happy to give up my bib if it helped get cheaters off the course.

    • Amy, nice idea in theory but in practice it might not be the best way to go. Lot’s of people do like to keep their bibs. Also, the bandits might just skip the medal. Finally, From a strictly cost benefit analysis, you’re implementing a change that might have a cost associated with it (more volunteers needed) just to catch a few bandits per race?

      Now if this could also stop mules and course cutters, I think you’re on to something.

      • Mysteries of Life, I see your point and I agree. Cost increases are an unfortunate side effect anti-theft practices and deterrents no matter the industry to which its implemented. It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch. Some people do keep their bibs, which is fine, but if race authorities would be willing to commit to implementing a meaningful system of protection for their event and legitimize times by catching course cutters and mules, I would support a cost increase.

        Anyway, there are lots of ways to go with this concept……

        Thanks for hearing me out.

        • I like Amy’s idea. We just need to scan the bib and give the medal. One doesn’t have to hand the bib. Timing chip system just needs to have one more field in the database “Is Medal Awarded?”. Scanner device is cheap. A small RFID scanner dongle with an app in cell phone can do. It’s almost no additional cost. It can deter someone trying to receive more than one medal.

    • That wouldn’t stop someone who made a good copy, would be better and easier to simply scan a bar code on the bib to receive medal/finisher shirt. They would get immediate feedback if the bar code had been scanned more than once (in the case of being copied) or not being a legitimately issued bib. Of course, this would raise the entry fees for everyone in order for the organizers to pay for bar code readers, etc, but I think it would be worth it to keep the cheaters out or at least shame them when they couldn’t get their bar code to scan.

    • There are actually marathons that do something like that. When I ran the Napa marathon 15 years ago they would take a small portion of the bottom of your bib and then hand you your metal. There was another small portion they removed and put in to a raffle for prizes.

      • Without checking the bib number against a master list, this wouldn’t stop banditing. Unless, I suppose, the duplicate bibs didn’t have the tear-off sections, which would raise a red flag.

        Even the original suggestion wouldn’t help if the legitimate bib-owner wasn’t the first to cross the line …

        • The counterfeit bib would have a totally different texture than the real bib, which is coated with a waxy polymer coating. Sometimes the real bib has no paper in it at all and is made from a polymer sheet.

    • Not a bad idea. Any runner who paid the race entry fee will ALWAYS want their medal. We all love our bling! Anyone seen not wanting a medal in order to keep heir bib could immediately be deemed suspicious and their bib could be checked. Those who want to keep their bib and get the medal could just remove the chip and turn it in.

  6. We pay a lot of money in races. It is not fair that peole run for free. We like to see our names, our results. Its called pride after all the effort of training. It is a competition with ourselves.
    These people should be punished, not letting them run at least for a year. As well as the peolle that let th photocopy the bib. They are as guilty as well.

  7. Hi Derek,


    She’s a frequent trail-ultrarunner (Not all ultrarunners do this, myself included) that might use road marathons as training runs.

    I think notifying the RD of the Headlands marathon (a race she signed up in September on Ultrasignup) might be interested in canceling her entry if he knew one of his racers was a serial banditor. Given that ultrasignup handles 99.9% of all ultra-trail races, it’s quite simple to watch her future race registration ensure she never runs another trail race again.

    Bye Alicia.

  8. I am going to sound like a crazy wacko but I think they should be charged by the local PD.

    As a side note, bandits don’t realize the amount of time and effort that goes into race planning. It’s illegal and disrespectful for other runners who PAID for course support, road closures, medical, etc.

    If they really wanted to run that course, why not run it solo (unsupported) any other day of the year? I’ve had my wife drop be off and Hopkinon and have run back to Boston along the marathon route. It was both free and legal.

    • So how exactly is it illegal to run in the same spot on the day of the race? What specific law is being broken?

      • The races pay the permits to close the roads, pay for police, and amenities. The bandits would not be running in the middle of the streets on a day this wasn’t being held. They are taking for free what everyone else paid for.

      • Like Derek says, it’s about permits that a community grants a private entity to use public space. Those permits (usually) come with a fee the organizer pays. That creates a contract under which the event producer has the right to use that space, often with a number of limitations.

        Does your community have any parades? That would be a parallel situation. While that parade is happening, on public streets, you as a private citizen do not have the right to drive your car down that street. Does your community have any public parks? Another parallel situation – if that park is rented out to a private entity for a gated event (ticketed admission concert, private business function, etc) you as a private citizen do not have the right to access that park.

    • Free and legal (if pedestrians can legally run on all the roads involved). But was it safe? Roads are closed to traffic on race day, but not other days.

    • I HEART this idea! I might do it someday! That is the only way I will ever run the Boston Marathon. I am not fast enough to qualify and I hate fundraising with a passion.

  9. You could die from running a marathon, for that matter any race, these “crooks” think it is amusing to run a race that people have spent a year to plan and somehow think it is ok not pay their “fair share”…….maybe when they have a accident in a race and they are unresponsive on the ground……with another runner’s bib # will they realize that crooks pay……sometimes with their lives. A Race Director ought to make an announcement right before the start of the race…..about non-paying runners…..so those crooks will think about it during their race!!!!

  10. What a cryin’ shame! As a professional timer, it’s disheartening that this goes on at all. Not only does this have a negative impact on the charity who won’t benefit from registration income, but what about the race and course resources they waste and the impact they have on the timers resources as well? From a timer standpoint, we strive for as close to 100% accurate results every time. These morons don’t realize what ensues when they cross a finish line and don’t “read” on the equipment – a lot of people start scrambling to makes things “right”, when it’s right all along! That action takes us away from legitimate timing issues. What’s worse is the supposed justification these idiots use for their outright illegal actions. I can’t wait for the day I see someone issued a citation or better yet, cuffed and stuffed in a patrol car right there in front of everyone. It’s a bigger deal that a lot of people realize. And the more that get away with it, the more prevalent it will become.

  11. I’m a race timer. I kept seeing the same guy bandit my races. One weekend he even ran in two of my races. I had my staff looking for him. I found him with his family who were there to watch. They were all enjoying snacks provided by the race. I embarked the heck out of him in front of his family. Told him he was steeling from the charity race and next time I catch him, I would have him arrested. I never saw him again.

  12. None of this even makes any sense. Modesto is a smaller marathon with low entry fees and you can pretty much sign up at the expo. It’s not like the NYC Marathon, Chicago, or the Marine Corps Marathon with slim chances of entering through a lottery (not that that’s an excuse, I can just see people pleading desperation.)

  13. Derek, Thanks for your coverage of this incident. However, in my opinion this in NOT banditing, what you have reported on is outright fraud and theft. There are few in the industry that are more outspoken or more serious about stopping or minimizing bandit activity but this goes way beyond that. Again thanks for your efforts and I hope that you receive the continued support of race management as well as the running community!

  14. The Modesto Marathon was created to benefit Teens Run Modesto, a program that targets “at risk” teens and through a six month training program teaches them the importance of goal setting and accountability, while also training for the MoMarathon. These two individuals do not come close to possessing the same character as the 300+ students they ran beside. And what kind of stand do these two think they’re making? That at risk youth aren’t worth their dollar?

    I’m obviously biased, but even from a legal standpoint this is ridiculous. Intentional trespass, I honestly hope the RD bans these two from all future Modesto marathons.

  15. We had some serious problems with a race I put on a few years back, such that we had to come up w/an official bandit policy and we do enforce multi-year bans for anybody running without a bib or running with another person’s bib on. (If you give your bib to somebody else outside of our transfer process, we also ban that person for a year.) We have had long talks with local law enforcement about limiting the size of our race (it’s in the middle of Winter in Maine so conditions can be pretty treacherous) and bandits put us at risk of not getting our permit renewed the following year. So far there has only been one serial banditer that has a lifetime ban from any event that I put on, and thanks to him we got a lot of press about the issue and why it’s a bad idea to bandit so we haven’t had as much trouble with it the past few years. (His lifetime ban didn’t come from banditing; it came from the nasty things he said to one of my volunteers and the attacks he made on social media against one of my co-race directors when he was politely asked not to bandit our race anymore. He already didn’t like them for not giving him the bib of somebody he knew wouldn’t be running when he tried to steal it the year before so he had a history, and his attacks on social media were so bad that Facebook shut down his account. Even his best friends that had run with him were apologizing to us because they were embarrassed to have been associated with him.)

    Every year I attend the RRCA national convention, and the same examples are given during the insurance education session about why the RRCA won’t insure certain categories of events. In most of the cases, it was because of bandits running under other people’s bibs getting injured and suing the race.

    When I used to keep my running blog up to date, I always knew that I’d be able to get a rise out of folks by sharing my opinions on banditing races. Some people just feel entitled and don’t really care about others, is about the best way I can figure it.

  16. Let’s get the FBI on it! If they were able to recover the national treasure sports jersey, they’ll be able to solve this one.

  17. I am from New Orleans and many of the races here allow for anyone to participate in the post race activities without a race bib or paying for the post race party. So to those race directors I would say make some changes. Why am I paying to run a race only to get to the post race and not have any post race refreshments.
    I do not believe in running a race that I did not legally pay for or receive a entry for. But i would be ok if someone is running the race course and skipping the finishers medal, timing and post race activities as appososed to open access to all others that didn’t even run.

    They are cheating themselves and will have to live with that guilt.
    Race fees are high and post race should ONLY be for PAID RACE PARTICIPANTS and PAID FAMILY/FRIENDS ONLY!!!

  18. It’s amazing how these people have no remorse no integrity! I’m training for my first 15k at the Pear Blossom and I value the time I’m putting in to train and look forward to race day! Their friends who allow these #racebandits to copy their bib or use their bib should be accountable as well! It’s a waste and a shame to know that these people are de-valuing the purpose of what other true runners are willing to race for.

  19. I agree that banditing a race is wrong, but if there is no evidence that a bandit received race perks or aid station items for a race on public streets, then I’d imagine any decent attorney could have the case thrown out.
    Potential solution: Require photo IDs at bib pick up (The bib must be picked up by the runner without exception.), and use the chip timers that attach to the shoe. I feel this would keep race fees lower and save a lot of heartache.

    • A bandit receives “race perks” by virtue of being able to run down public streets with police protection that was paid for by the race director. The “public” does not have the right to use those streets — the permits that the race director pulls relates only to the race and registered participants.

      And no, chip timing does not keep race fees lower.

      • Is that a fact though? That “the public does not have a right to use those streets”. I don’t know if the fact that a race going on means the remaining general public is prohibited from using the roads. There are always people (spectators) jogging along, walking down the street and even people jumping into the race for a few miles. Especially in a marathon, which can span the distance of most cities.

        • Yes, this is a fact — I’ve pulled and drafted the permits.

          Go try to ride a bike or drive a car down the middle of a road that’s been permitted for a race. You’ll be arrested. The same rule applies to pedestrians and runners who aren’t registered.

          Obviously, most races are not policed for this kind of behavior, but the major races are, and this is why you’ll be forcibly removed from the road if you’re not wearing a bib.

      • alternative scenario : I’m running on a beach path as part of my weekly/daily routine, but on that day there happens to be a race. Am I obligated to get off of the path?

        Note that during these situations, pedestrians, surfers, RV campers, and tourists are also using the shared path.

        • Some permits are not for “closed courses” — usually when the race is not taking place on a vehicular road. So in your case, it’s probably a shared right-of-way.

  20. It would be interesting to find out who’s bib they copied. Search that runner’s previous races, then search photos from those races to see if these two jokers show up and in turn, see if they have a pattern and/or are working with the same person at every event they bandit. If that makes sense.

  21. SCUM !!!!! No finish time or placement or medal should be given. Have no trace of these LOSERS being in the race. I would put an article in the local paper with there pictures to show what kind of Losers these two are….and to make the public aware that cheating is a NO WAY win. Front these people of to there local community…see if they then think its just good the way it is….total losers

  22. It’s not right even if they skip medals and perks. I’m repeating what’s already been said, but sometimes the course is only safe for a certain # of runners. This was the case for the old Houston Marathon course which had a bridge at the beginning.

  23. I despise bandits, but don’t know what actions the RDs can do besides not giving them a medal and blacklisting them from future races. And even with a blacklist, I don’t know how effective a ban would be. (For example, if I were banned under the name Steve Geller, I don’t know if the software would be smart enough to ban me under Stephan Geller or “Bubba” Geller for a future race.)

    But I don’t know what an RD can do by using law enforcement. If the race entry is $150 (made up number, but realistic), that’s small potatoes for most police departments. If you add that most people in a marathon do not live in the city the marathon took place, and you have the police in the city of the marathon coordinating with the police of the cheater’s city over $150. It’s not that police don’t care (I expect most do), but they have to allocate their resources and I don’t see many of them using them for this.

    • I think a couple of cops standing by with an immediate arrest for theft of service would chill this out. The prospect of having to post bail and a criminal record would deter a lot of people, I should think.

  24. Crime? Stealing? Should be charged? Local PD? Come on guys, it’s just a hobby. Let these people run. No one was killed or shot….

    • If it’s just a hobby, then why manipulate your way into a race? Keep it recreational and on your own time and route. Race directors spend quality time organizing these races and participants spend quality money to enter. Bandits know that what they’re doing is wrong and there should be consequences. There is no reason to let them run as you suggest.

    • right on, we should only care when someone gets shot or killed. i always grab a bite to eat from a family picnic on my long runs. it’s just a hobby.

  25. i am not all for “banditing” but you guys are being crazy. have you ever read chicken soup for the soul, runners? there are several inspirational stories in that book & 1 or more of them condone “banditing”. did they tresspass on private property? did they physically hurt anyone?
    you are wasting your time w/these bandits. the percentage is small that these are the 1st 2bandits i have ever seen exposed. good luck!
    to me, having my official results accessible is much important than saving some $.

  26. Is there an argument for allowing a friend / club team mate run on your behalf if you’re ill / injured? Maybe a small admin charge to switch the details? After all the injured runner has already paid, so there’s no loss of income?

  27. No, “we” can’t run wherever we want….. there are rules to follow. “We” pay our entry fees and follow the rules. People spend money, time to train for marathons. Now, I understand these two ****heads ran a 4:50 time so they weren’t competing or knocking anyone out of an age group winning time, HOWEVER…. “they” can go ahead and run anywhere they want that doesn’t require an entry fee and following the rules. “They” can knock themselves out then…. pathetic people

  28. I’ve ran in races that only closed off a certain portion of the course. Otherwise it was running on public bike/running paths! How do you stop race bandits there? Races where the course isn’t 95% closed to the public suck! Races like The Great Chocolate Race in Long Beach, CA and the Lexus Half in Riverside.

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