Runners Boast About Bib Swapping And The Resulting 2nd Place Finish


This past weekend, Julie ran two Personal records, on the same day, at the same time. Julie was registered for The Surf City 5k and Revel Big Bear. However she gave her bib away to William for the 5k.

Julie gave William her bib, because she was running a marathon and could not run the 5k. I’ve written a number of articles about runners winning age group awards by giving bibs to faster friends in different age groups or females giving their bibs to males. Usually, I give the benefit of the doubt and assume that they unknowingly place in the age groups.

In this case, both runners knew that Julie had come in 2nd place in her age group. It does not seem that any paid any thought to the runners that William bumped down in the age Julie’s age group standings.

All of this was posted in a large Facebook group (over 30k members). An admin even joked on this thread. The group stresses positivity and is affiliated with Under Armour. However, it seems that along with the bib swappers, that the admins also did not take into account that their actions costs deserving runners their podium spots.

In Conclusion

Not a single member in the group mentioned that William stole the podium spots. I am writing this article to further try to shine a light as to how bib swapping is not always a victim-less crime. You should never run with another runner’s bib. To knowingly claim an age group placement goes to the next level. That these two never acknowledged or considered the 2nd and 3rd place runners is very sad. Please, if you know a runner that behaves in this manner, speak to them, educate them, don’t enable them.

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  1. What’s interesting is that I don’t see a “Julie” who finished third in an age group at the Revel Big Bear event. And I don’t see anyone with a finishing time of 21:32 at the Surf City 5K. Curious. Did both people get removed from the results?

      • Probably because William actually emailed the race to let them know. But no one would know that because no one approached him to find out all the details first.

        • The race had a bib transfer procedure. Regardless, they didn’t follow the procedure, and did nothing to fix the result–knowing that a podium spot was taken.

    • I do see a Julie in the results for Revel Big Bear at about 3:54, as the screen shot of her posting says. 42 of 121 in her age group.

  2. Disgusting! Both what they did as well as their thinking it’s funny. Nice job stealing a podium spot from someone who truly deserved it. As a race announcer I see this bib swapping at almost every race. It doesn’t always affect the spots on the podium but often does as seen here. I spend way too much time interacting with the timing company and advising them to DQ a runner when I see male runners coming in with female’s bibs and visa versa! This is NOT a victimless “crime” Fortunately my friends at Motiv Sports truly care about situations like this and “Julie’s” 2nd place finish is being removed from the records. Additionally, I have made a formal request that both parties be banned from Motive events. A referral to USATF about this matter has also been forwarded this morning. As always, Thanks Derek!

  3. This is frustrating considering this race allows Bibs to be transferred or deferred!! If she knew she was registered for both races – which she would have known because Surf City 10 sent e-mails to registered races well in advance regarding race/registration/upgrades/downgrade distances and transfers – she should have just transferred the bib and paid the $25 transfer fee or even deferred it to the 2019 race or even opted for the Virtual run option which they allow.

  4. I lost a podium spot – the only one I’ve ever had – to a bib swapper, and it took weeks to straighten out.

  5. Hi Derek – Many readers don’t understand why this is a ‘marathon investigation’ as there is literally nothing being investigated: BOTH participants OPENLY posted about the bib swap & subsequent results on social media long before your ‘investigative journalism’ piece was published. Not only that, they posted to an audience of, as YOU noted, over 30k members, so clearly neither Julie nor William were trying to falsify records or get away with anything untoward.

    In your article, you advise your readers, few as they may be, to ‘speak to & educate’ bib-swapping runners. I am certain that if you contacted Julie & William directly about your misgivings regarding this swap & the subsequent race results, rather than (as you seem to generously call it) ‘investigating’ the situation, both would have quickly acknowledged the unexpected impact & worked to remove the placement from the race records, if not already done so by race officials.

    While it can be argued that Julie & William could have taken greater consideration of this swap potentially impacting the podium placement of anther runner, it is obvious (to most readers, anyway) that neither of them went into this with maliciousness or deceit.

    Shedding light on a situation that may have less than ideal consequences for some participants is one thing, & this situation may be, as you so eloquently put it, ‘sad,’ but your ‘investigation’ of these circumstances is extremely one-sided, not to mention your likening it to a ‘crime?’ A bit heavy-handed, don’t you think, Nancy Drew?

    • If you follow the site, you’d see that there are many things related to races other than marathons, and I venture into subjects that don’t require an ‘investigation’ per se. Given that they seemed oblivious to the situation, I did not publish full names and did not publicize the group the post was in. I did not liken this to a crime.

      Again if you follow the site, this article is consistent with the others.

      I never said they were falsifying anything. But that they were bragging about the second place finish with zero consideration for the finishers that they bumped. That is the point.

      • Derek – I get it: your point is that William & Julie, by swapping a bib & posting about the results, were inconsiderate of the impact had on other finishers. MY point is that both the swap and the social media posts were not done with malicious intent & YOUR article is inconsiderate of that fact.

        You state that William & Julie seemed ‘oblivious,’ implying that you, too, recognize that while their actions may have been misguided, they were far from calculated. You may not have published their full names but you did post a photo of William (not to mention other race participants who had nothing to do with the situation) in an effort to, what? What is the point of this article? To shame them?

        It is certainly not to educate them, as you advocate to your readers, for, in spite of having access to both William & Julie’s social media account information, you failed to reach out to either of them directly, not only in an effort to ‘educate’ them, but to obtain their ‘side’ of this exciting story.

        Again, one-sided. MY point.

        This is the first article I’ve read on your ‘investigative’ site, & if this poorly explored, hastily written commentary is, as you say, ‘consistent with the others,’ it’s my last.

        You have described a situation (from your sole perspective), taken a position against it, & shared your assessment (not to mention participant names & photos) with the public. As such, & particularly if written under the guise of what touts itself as an ‘investigation’ site, you have a responsibility to consider & ideally recount the circumstances from ALL perspectives. Just as William & Julie should have done, right?

        PS. You write that ‘bib swapping is not always a victim-less crime’ which suggests that it is SOMETIMES a victimless crime – so, victimless or not, in your words, a crime.

      • Derek, you actually did post the group name by not editing it off of the screenshot of Julie’s post. You continue to contradict yourself and you definitely didn’t honor your own advice of “Please, if you know a runner that behaves in this manner, speak to them, educate them, don’t enable them.”. You didn’t even attempt to reach out to William or Julie to bring awareness before you blasted them about a local 5k race. Had William not placed, no one would have given two shits. Because William never ran a 5k before or placed, being on the podium was the last thing on his mind. You don’t really think a male, bearded man is going to go collect on the podium for a woman do you? You know nothing of the intent, nor do you know either of their characters. Your commentary makes them out to be malicious and conniving. Had you been part of the group prior to being alerted of this, you would have known the history and the “joking” behind the posts. That group has been around for 3 years with rich history, but instead, you took it at face value and twisted it to be some maliciously planned act when all it really was is a friend giving her bib to another friend to run with other friends in the group. There was never any malicious intent to give William the bib, in fact Julie has placed in that race herself in the past. You’ve made a witch hunt of this and destroyed a group where trust and kindness used to exist. You’ve defamed characters in your commentary and I hope the people you name and have posted pictures of do not come after you for legal recourse. This is not an elite runner group. A very small percentage of the group are actively looking at posts and a very small percentage of posts ever get seen by people. Of course, you wouldn’t know that because you didn’t take time to really investigate. Since the group is not elite runners and 99.8% of them would never be in a podium position, the first thought on their minds is not the repercussions of invalidly placing does to others who should have gotten that spot. Maybe a lesson has been learned, it’s hard to say with all the animosity of all this.

        You also pick and choose what you “investigate” because I know of others who have reported information to you, on much larger races, which you have simply turned your head on and not “investigated”. Hmmm, you’re a bit like FOX News in your reporting now aren’t you? Good luck on your continued “investigating” and reporting one sided stories. I hope you never make a mistake in your life. It be horrible if the rest of your life was based on a single wrongdoing that wasn’t intended to be malicious.

        As for your followers, they clearly thrive on witch hunts, drama, and misguided information that only tells part of the story. Hope they never make any mistakes in their lives either. Karma is a real bitch.

        • I don’t write about everything. Sometimes investigations don’t uncover everything. I only write what I am 100% certain on. Sometimes I just report results to the race officials. I write onthe most egregious of cases. Where intent was clear, or where cheating is a pattern.

          Please tell me what about this is one sided. The facts were out there and are not disputed.

          The post in the Facebook group had plenty of likes. None of those runners spoke against the bib swapping.

          Julie gave her bib to William against race rules. The race does allow transfers for a $25 fee. They chose a different route. To amplify things, William finished in 2nd place. The point of the article was to show that this was not victimless. This was an intentional act – not following race policy. The 2nd and 3rd place finishers were affected.

        • It’s natural to become defensive when we, or a friend, get caught doing something that draws criticism, but Sarah and anonymous have imagined something that doesn’t exist. At no time did Derek state or even insinuate that he believed these two acted with malice. Yet, that straw man has been sufficiently beaten, as the expense of the what actually happened, and what Derek wrote about it.

          What Thomas and Julie did was, however, deeply inconsiderate. Sure, there are worse things in life, but this site is not about those things. The worst we could say on top of that is that Julie was lazy (by not simply transferring the bib), and Thomas was selfish (not thinking of others).

          Maybe Sarah and anonymous podium all the time at their local races, but for many of us it is an ‘achievement unlocked’ moment. I’m sure it’s embarrassing to be held out as an example of what not to do, but an apology would serve them better than to complain about an accusation that didn’t happen.

          (As to the online group… A little self reflection might make it stronger. We can learn a lot from small mistakes.)

        • I certainly never got the impression he was saying either was malicious in intent, he was reporting that they did this without care to who else it affected, and this demonstration raises the awareness that people SHOULD care about who else it can have an effect on when not following proper procedures for bib transfer for a race. Fixing it later on doesn’t give who should have been a podium finisher in that place the opportunity at the race, regardless of whether or not he went and took the award. Obviously he wouldn’t go take an award for that, it’d be asking for a DQ on the spot.

  6. Sarah,

    > both would have quickly acknowledged the unexpected impact & worked to
    > remove the placement from the race records, if not already done so by race officials.

    It’s cool that you can explain their theoretical behavior had they been considerate of others. But they weren’t, right? Isn’t it worthwhile pointing that out? How would you feel about this if you were the fourth woman finisher who should have gotten a spot on the podium but didn’t?

    • …and then found out the people openly bragged about it on top of it. I don’t think Derek’s article is one-sided at all. I think it’s right on point. This isn’t a victim-less crime and they weren’t “oblivious” imo, because they BRAGGED about a podium spot. Both of them. She BRAGGED about running 2 races “at the same time”. On social media. On top of it, the 5K allowed transfers up to the day BEFORE the race…she KNEW she couldn’t run both so why didn’t she transfer it to William legally? Guess what Sarah…if it’s on social media, it’s PUBLIC. Something people seem to forget.

      • It’s a closed group so technically it’s not public. You have to be granted approval. Therefore it is a private group.

        • But it’s still on social media and anyone could screenshot and put it anywhere. Hence, you can’t expect that level of privacy on FB, instagram or any social media. May be a closed group but reality is, anything you post has a footprint and can be made public, something people seem to forget when posting even in closed groups. There was a glitch on FB not that long ago where people were posting in closed groups but the posts were going to their newsfeeds. When you partake in social media, one needs to realize anything you post can end up out there for anyone to see.

        • I’m a member of that Facebook group and its not remotely “private” since there are 1000s of people in it. I literally have posts popping up every day in my feed, 99.9% of which, I don’t read or respond to. Who cares if Derek didn’t edit out the name of the group, I can’t imagine that anyone cares about that whatsoever.

          • Oh, and I never took it as though Derek was criticizing the group’s membership. Most people, myself included, probably never even saw or paid attention to Julie’s post.

  7. I’ve run a certain 5 K here in Ohio where a runner, cut the course 2years in row. He was in front of me 1st year and in front of my daughter in law 2nd year which she approached the RD when this cheater was going to accept his award, guy didn’t argue and there was some discomfort about this event but hey, he was going to take someone’s reward.

  8. We as a society build expectations of behavior by how we respond to things like this. When no one in such a large group says anything about it, it hurts everyone. By calling it out people like Derek help build awareness of how we should behave in our communities and it makes all of us more knowledgeable and better people for it. Keep up the good work, D!

    • Not to defend either runner, but I think this one could have been handled with a few emails. The right thing for them to do would have been to alert the RD immediately or at least contact the RD after the fact. Unfortunately they didn’t do that, however I think if it were brought to their attention, they probably would have made the right choice. I’d like to imagine a world where oblivious people do the right thing when their discretions are pointed out to them.

  9. You blamed an entire group for saying nothing . Had no isea what this was all about until i read your article. And a few members who said there upset without any disclosure. Since you perked my interest to look for more information. Before commenting on all members do nothing. Get some facts about the entire membership.

    Take a pause and give people a chance. First. Otherwise comments on news feeds stir up emotions Shame on both these people. They should be banned at all races. Next comment. Their the ones to go after. They stole and committed an unacceptable act. Not the folks in a group. This group are runners looking to help other runners. Like a lot of groups

    I hope you accept this as a nice person responding that you accused doing nothing.

    I think i just did. By responding to this article.

    Why are you asking for a donation. That should be a crime. That seems odd. I met official inspectors. They are watching and are volunteers. And are proud. Being the watch during a race. It is how many are caught.

    Have an awesome run.

    • My intent was not to blame the entire group. However, because of the rules of the group, and prior experiences the tipster did not feel they could make a post criticizing the behavior. An admin commented in the thread as well.

      I joined the group to give my perspective. I answered questions and explained my rationale in posting an article. But, I was quickly kicked out. The group members I was interacting with seemed reasonable. But, that conversation was not allowed to continue.

    • “That should be a crime?”

      Please explain. There are costs associated with the site. People that appreciate the time and expense that I put into the site may chose to contribute.

    • That was odd… Anyway, I thought the fact that no one from the group felt the need to say something was interesting. It shows how easy it is forget how others can be affected by our actions. I think that is an indictment of all of us, not the group in particular.

  10. To all those coming out against this article and saying it is one sided.

    I offered very little in the way of commentary:

    The facts are that Julie gave William her bib – without following the proper procedures. The race allows transfers for a $25 fee. They didn’t officially transfer the bib.

    The article points out that a common consequence of bib swapping is that doing so can affect awards. The legendary Katherine Switzer was bumped due to this same exact situation at last year’s New York Marathon.

    I pointed out that no one came out against the practice.I never said all 30,000 members saw the post. But an admin even posted on the thread, and said nothing, and a decent amount of members liked the post.

    I was involved in a civil discussion about the article in the group until I was kicked out.

    There was no ‘other side’ regarding this as the facts were very clear. The purpose in posting this article was to show an unintended consequence of bib swapping and to educate and deter others.

  11. The rule is, “Don’t run with someone else’s bib.” If someone breaks this rule in the middle of the pack, there will probably be no consequences unless there’s an emergency. If it messes up age group awards, this is an insult to the rightful recipients and will be called out for shaming and DQ. If it’s intentional cheating to get a BQ or membership to a special team, God help both parties. They will be shamed by name and banned. This is the state of things. I’m OK with this state of things. Thank you, Derek.

    • “This custom-designed surfboard medal doubles as a beer bottle opener”

      Whoa. I’m going to have to check this out.

      • Thanks to this innovation at Surf City many years ago, a lot of races offer medals with this feature. There may be one near you

  12. As a general reply about the consequences of bib swapping and bib muling, I would like to point out both are based on the fraudulent use of identities. Of more importance to me when I do my own review of race results is that bib swapping can make investigations of runners difficult because of the false identities used.

    How do you correlate the results of a Julie from one race to the next to gather a performance profile if Julie is involved in bib swapping? It makes things extremely difficult for me when a Heather is showing dishonesty by bib swapping and making it virtually impossible to correlate results with confidence due to the fraudulent identities assumed.

    And it is also essential to respect policies prohibiting bib transfers or respecting the deadline for official bib transfers where available. For an investigator like me, I can often look at the registration lists for races when made available to check if there are known or suspected cheaters planning to participate. By participating in bib swapping and assuming fraudulent identities, you make a mockery of the work that goes into pre-race background checks whether by independent investigators or by race officials. Time is needed to do such pre race background checks.

    For this case, it is clear that neither runner thought of what goes on behind the scenes keeping races honest and neither are owning up to the consequences of their bib swapping and fraudulently stealing an age group podium position they openly boasted about.

    And for the unsubstantiated assertion someone made that Julie and William did not have nefarious intent in their acts of bib swapping, then you just wasted a lot of my time reading all this and the time of many people looking into your claims when that could have been spent looking into other race results. If that is your defense, it is not much of one and you are a major obstacle in keeping races honest.

  13. I don’t get people. My wife signed up for a race, got sick, couldn’t run. At packet pick up, we let them know I was going to run in her account, if that was OK. Staff said it was not a problem and they’d make a change to the registration.

    Race day comes, I have an excellent race and finish strong. Check the results, and see my wife podiim finished her AG. We immediately went to the scoring table to let them know, as I didn’t want theegit 2nd place and proper 3rd place ladies to get cheated out of their accomplishments.

    Honesty pays off.

  14. The two members of the FB group involved broke the rules, plain and simple, posted it to a FB book with 30,000 members and then cry and get all hissy because they get called out in public for it? I think they need to put on their big boy and girl pants and suck it up.
    It would seem the ethos of the admin and a lot of members replying on the FB group post of this is there was no malicious ‘intent’. Maybe so, but intent is not everything. Perception of intention plays a big part, and guess what….. there’s this thing called ‘consequence’ which you have to deal with in the adult world. One of the admin has kindly pinned a post about name calling, saying the poster will be ‘booted’ if this rule is broken. So, the Admin expect members to abide by their rules but not by any race director rules or the licencing bodies rules when it comes to racing? Hypocritical to say the least Angel. Get your house in order. Remember the group is affiliated with UA. Maybe UA will withdraw that if you openly break race rules and then rally against those that call you out for it.
    I note Julie appears to no longer be a member of the group, no doubt too busy with her #lushlife to give a damn about the consequences of her actions, or maybe she just spat her dummy out after being called out for bad behaviour, or maybe she is actually ashamed of her behaviour. Only Julie can answer that, but I doubt she will…… maybe ‘Sarah’ could help us out with that one.
    As for the group itself there is a small percentage that seem to think they own the group and woe betide anyone who calls them out for bad behaviour, after all they are friends with the admin. Admin should never be friends with the members, or at least never let friendship get in the way of running the group fairly. This has taught me that their view seems to be ‘if there is one thing worse than bad behaviour, it’s calling someone out for their bad behaviour if they are part of the clique’.
    As for it being a ‘private’ group. There is no such thing as ‘Private’ on social media. Not with 30,000 members there isn’t. Use your brain people. Even private messages can be screenshot and put all over social media.
    When I saw the original posts on the group regarding the bib swapping I was pretty disgusted and annoyed by them, but didn’t call them out for it, mainly because in a community of 30,000 I was sure someone else would. And they did, hence this article on Marathon Investigates. As for the ‘mole’ as they refer to the person who got in touch with you Derek, the very language they use to describe that person speaks volumes about the mindset of that small percentage who feel they are above reprimand for their behaviour.
    I hope you do succeed in getting the two members banned from racing, at least from events hed by that particular race organiser. Sure, they’ll probably secure bibs by other names, but at least they won’t be getting PB’s in their own name anymore.
    Remember…….. their are consequences to your actions in the adult world. You’re not in High school anymore, so stop acting like a bunch of High School girls.
    And for the other 29,950 YVSTY members who had nothing to do with this bad behaviour whether directly or by defending it, have a nice run!

    • The admin for that group are volunteers. They are not responsible for policing the behavior of others outside of the group. They are responsible for policing the treatment of each other within the group. You should do your research before making assumptions. UA did not set that group up, it was set up by a marketing firm as part of the original challenge. They are not involved with the group.

      I do find it interesting that you didn’t have balls enough to address it, like an adult, when it happened. Just expected someone else to do it for you. That’s definitely the best way to handle a situation, just turn your head and let someone else be the one to address it.

      I question why you are even part of the group if you have such a negative opinion of it and the people within it. Maybe, as people have said above, you should take your shoes walking and step out of it. Regardless of anyone’s perception, there was no ill intent to steal anything from anyone. You all keep referring to the “podium” but not once did any of the posts reference podium. People who don’t typically place, don’t equate 2nd place to a podium spot. William didn’t collect any prizes and in fact, didn’t even know he placed until well after the race.

      Continue to twist and contort your perception of what happened. You weren’t there, you don’t know these people and you definitely don’t understand the camaraderie that exists in that group. There’s enough malice in the world and it’s nice to see that rather than handling this like adults and bringing it to the attention of the culprits (naive at that), you decide blasting it out is a better approach. Guilty until proven innocent. Hope none of you ever get arrested for anything. Must be hard living such perfect lives.

      • “Guilty until proven innocent.” – They were guilty by their own admissions on social media!

        “People who don’t typically place, don’t equate 2nd place to a podium spot.” – I’m not even sure where to go with that comment

      • Does “handling this like adults” also mean kicking people out of the group that respectfully disagree with you? Because that seems to be exactly what is happening. The group has dissolved into a clique, with the popular kids being in control and literally bullying people out of the group. Interestingly, the people being bullied out are the ones with the most running knowledge and can actually contribute to the group in a useful manner.

      • Of course he didn’t collect a prize, if he had then it would have been resolved on the spot since, as he put it, obviously he wasn’t Julie. Then the actual AG winners probably could have received awards right away instead of after the fact.

  15. Julie / William / Sarah / Anonymous:

    You are following the classic route of changing the narrative, attacking the accuser and declaring to be the true victim in all this. This is the worst thing you can do. I find these stories fascinating as a reflection of human character and no matter how many times the story plays out it always goes down the same pathetic path. If you look back through previous stories (JD Greening from a month ago was another classic) you will see all the same characteristics.

    The best thing you can do is admit that, in hindsight, your actions were stupid and selfish, that you did not do it maliciously and apologize. Age group awards may seem trivial to most people but to a dedicated runner they are important. Think of something you feel is important, then imagine somebody boasting about how they cheated you out of it. You would certainly feel angry, probably for months afterwards. A friend of mine is an avid golfer, and once, about twenty years ago, he nearly scored a hole in one. But there were some small kids hanging around the green. As the ball rolled towards the hole one of them ran up to it and kicked it away. The kids ran off laughing, my friend remembers it to this day.

  16. I’m kinda disappointed Julie didn’t have double letters in her name, but William certainly does, and that’s close enough

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