Races Becoming More Vigilant Against Bandits, Bib Mules, and Bib Thieves


Some races and race directors are taking a stronger stance against bib bandits, bib mules and bib thieves. Some race directors are serious about protecting the integrity of their races and about keeping unauthorized runners out of their events and off their courses.

The most recent example of this was in Miami:

The Miami Marathon

I wrote about Miami last year. 200 Bandits Pulled Off The Course of The Miami Marathon. Once again Frankie Ruiz was vigilant in stopping the bandits from participating in his race.

This year, Frankie shared video of the 5k. While it wouldn’t have been practival to stop those that managed to run the race before the finish line, Frankie and his team made sure that they did not collect their medals:



Approximately 70 runners “tried to seal medals & other race amenities” at the 5k.

Once again, they also stopped runners before the finish of the half and full marathons. One youtuber named “tobytuber” took video after finishing the half marathon of runners being stopped short of the finish.

Personally, I classify bandits differently than I classify bib mules and course cutters. No better, or worse. Banditing isn’t technically cheating, but it could be classified as stealing. Speaking of stealing….

Walt Disney World

While it may be pretty easy to cheat and get away with it at Disney races, if you actually steal someone’s bib by forging their name at the expo, they don’t mess around. For those that may have missed this story, here is the detailed article.

To Catch A Bib Thief – The Events That Led To Disneyland Runner Being Detained After Running With Stolen Bib


California International Marathon

*Note – CIM is a Gold Level partner with Marathon Investigation*

CIM race director Eli Asch came down hard on a would be bib seller – issuing a lifetime ban to a runner that posted on Craigslist in search of a mule to run a Boston Quailfying time.

In a Q&A with Citiusmag.com, Eli gives the best explanation I have read as to why banditing is an issue.

By choosing to run on the race course you’re saying that you value running there above anywhere else you can run, i.e. that the race is providing something of value to you. So you implicitly agree that the race is providing something valuable, and other people are paying for it while you’re taking it for free. We have a word for that: stealing. Bandits are thieves. Don’t be a thief.

If you want to run a race, pay for it. If you want to argue that you’re not getting anything of value by running in a race without paying for it, prove it by running somewhere else on race day.


Cheating in all forms is getting more attention. I do not necessarily believe that cheating, or banditing is on the rise. I believe that people are more aware and more likely to speak out when they witness cheating or when they become aware of someone cheating. With results posted online, and with cheaters and bandits posting photos and results, they are just more likely to be caught, and outed. I revcently wrote about an ultra runner that was disqualified from multiple victories. Since then, I have received emails regarding other ultra runners that are believed to have cheated. There hasn’t been a sudden increase in cheating. People are just more aware.

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  1. Great article as always! Eli’s definition/statement about banditing is absolutely perfect. I am going to adopt that into my pre race scripting! Thanks Derek and Eli!!!

  2. In one sense, I at least understanding banditing over course cutting or using a mule, assuming the person runs the whole race. I understand it, I should say, that some people just steal things. I’m sure some of those people in the above videos would never shoplift, or take something out of an unlocked car, and would be horrified if someone accused them of such. But a LOT of people don’t think of stealing services. In this case, they certainly feel protected by the crowd, and even if caught they know there will be no real consequences. They get the rush of doing something they know they shouldn’t, but without risk.

    But when long time runners cheat, I just can’t figure it out. And sometimes they’re really good, and still cheat! It’s just bizarre. A lot of people criticize Derek’s work on this, but there wouldn’t be a sustainable blog if we didn’t find it fascinating.

    • I bandit. I do not take any water or gels, I will often help pace folks out on the course- a course on streets with plenty of room for runners at the pace I run at (7:15 or so per mile). Am I stealing from a multi-national race promoter using public streets I help maintain with my taxes? If so, fine by me.

  3. I wonder what happened to “#Ipayforthis” bib-stealing Patty? Disney isn’t doing races anymore and since being outed and handcuffed, I can’t imagine she’d have a big footprint on Instagram anymore or brag about races anymore. #thingsIwonder

    • Disney only canceled the Disneyland events. The WDW and DLParis events are unchanged, so there’s still opportunity.

  4. This reminds me; I am always amazed at the number of runners with handicap placards or plates at the parking area of a race! Following one race 5/10K, I saw 5 finishers who got into the car alone, that had a handicap placard or plate!!

    • I’m a runner. I have a handicapped placard. I run fulls and halfs. I have an incurable disease that is helped by running BUT I never what will happen at the end of a race. Not all handicaps are seen. Running helps me to control what my disease does and it’s progression. The trade off is I don’t know what it will do at the end of a race. I was told I would never run and every time I finish a race it’s a triumph of overcoming for me. Not all handicaps are seen. It’s okay to wonder, but try not to judge what you can’t see. You don’t know what it took a person to get there or what they go through on a daily basis.

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