If The Boston Marathon Wants To Stop Bib Copying They Must Do More


The B.A.A. asks participants not to post close-up pictures of their bib number on social media before the race to avoid fraudulent bib duplication. If an athlete is found to have duplicated a bib number, or if his/her bib number has been duplicated by another party, the athlete will be subject to disqualification. Upon receiving a bib number by way of qualifying, as a guest, or as a fundraiser for charity, the athlete takes sole responsibility for their bib number. The B.A.A. will disqualify anyone found to have duplicated a bib number, or been the source of a duplicated bib number.

If The BAA is serious about stopping the duplication of bibs they need to do something more. Runners are simply not getting the word. I spent about 20 minutes on Instagram and found numerous bibs posted. Many were high res closeups of just the bib.

Some runners feel that if someone is determined to create a forgery, they will do so whether or not they post a picture of their bib.

The problem is, that by posting a close up of your bib, you are making it easier for a thief to make a copy.

It is clear that many runners don’t read through the runner handbook. They are not only making it easier for thieves, but they are risking disqualification.

The bib design has basically gone unchanged for many years. The design is basic and easy to copy. Other marathons have begun to utilizing additional technologies to make copying more difficult.

Last night I received an email sharing a post made on reddit. The runner was looking for someone to take a copy of their sister’s bib and modify the number so that they could run the marathon together. The number they requested was assigned to another, unrelated runner. This bothered me not only because she was looking to run Boston by forging a bib, but that she was going to the lengths to have the bib number changed to that of a complete stranger.

If I find that they were successful in making a copy, I will provide an update.

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  1. I don’t understand how the bib photo makes it easier. Is it for the barcode? Otherwise, given the retro guy, it seems clear that it’s not necessary to have a perfect bib to run the race. Does having a better bib copy allow people to appear in the results? It seems unrealistic to eliminate 100% of bib pictures. It seems like you’d only need to see one, even with the number blurred out to make a copy.

  2. This should be pretty easy. They wand us with metal detectors in Hopkinton. Why don’t they have a mat before you leave Athlete’s Village for the corrals. Then do it again at the corrals. It won’t stop someone from jumping in after the start, but it would weed out a lot of fakes.

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