I have written many articles about bib swapping. I wrote one on Friday that got quite a bit of reaction from both sides. Julie gave her bib to William for a local 5k. William placed 2nd in Julie’s age group. I chose to write about this particular situation because both William and Julie joked about ‘Bearded Julie’ placing in her age group. To me this showed a complete lack of awareness of the effect that this had on the true 2nd and 3rd place winners of Julie’s age group. Secondly they posted about this in a large Facebook group. No one that commented or liked the post mentioned anything about bib swapping being against the rules. I felt this would be a good instance to use my platform to educate runners about bib swapping and unintended consequences.
Based on the reaction (mostly from a handful of members of You vs. The Year Facebook Group) I feel the need to post a follow-up regarding the criticism and the indifference by many towards bib swapping. Shortly before publishing the article I was accepted into the group. A member posted the article in the group, and I jumped in to answer questions and criticism. The discussion was civil and I felt productive. However, I was removed from the group and could not continue the conversation there.
William responded in the group:
- Never did I state that the intent was to deceive. The point was not William’s and Julie’s intent but the effect of an unauthorized bib swap on other competitors.
- No, I did not reach out to William or Julie. As was mentioned in the comments, there was nothing to investigate.What happened was out in the open. I made no comments about intent. The issues here revolve solely on the decision for Julie to give her bib to William. I believe that the consequences were unintended. I did follow my own advice as far as attempting to educate the running community.
- To deflect blame on the race for not immediately correcting the result is shameful. William was the one, along with Julie that refused to follow the rules of the race. The race allows transfers up until the day before the race for a $25 fee. As a result of their decision, the women that finished behind William did not receive the recognition they deserved on race day. For those that claimed that Julie was never in the results, see below. As of this morning, she still appears in the results. William claims to have emailed the race after the fact. I hope this is the case, but it does not absolve him of responsibility.
- Nowhere in his initial statement did William accept any responsibility for his actions.
Much of the response in the group was talk about keeping issues ‘in house’, and disdain towards the tipster. The tipster was referred to as ‘a mole’. Some are following a typical tactic of blaming the messenger, but not addressing the real issue of bib swapping.
Some members did speak out against the bib swapping. I am not disparaging the members of the group as a whole. As I mentioned above, I was engaged in a productive dialogue prior to being removed from the group.
Below is a statement from the tipster in this case:
Sorry this took a while to respond to your request. Upon seeing the initial posts in the group I was upset that people were glorifying not following the rules. The Surf City 10 specifically states on their website that you can not give or sell your bib to someone else. It did allow for a deferment or transfer of bibs. Apparently the original bib owner did not feel this was necessary and decided to give her bib to William instead. At first I thought about posting in the group about how I felt and then hesitated based on the backlash I knew I would receive. There were already numerous comments about the amazing achievement of PRing two races at the same time. In addition I have posted this sort of feedback in the past only to be lambasted by disagreeing members of the group.
Bib Swapping – Why It’s Wrong
- You agreed to the rules of the race when you signed up. If the race allows transfers, follow the procedure. It’s not OK to give (or sell) your bib outside of the race procedures.
- As illustrated above, giving your bib away can affect age group placements. You may not be thinking about placing in your age group. But when a 70 year old woman gives her bib to a speedy 20 something male, it is very possible that awards will be affected (a similar thing happened to Kathrine Switzer in The 2017 New York Marathon).
- In the event of an emergency, if you are running with someone else’s bib, medical personnel won’t know who you are or who to contact if you are unresponsive. This was posted on The Marathon Investigation Facebook page:
I volunteered in medical at LA in 2015. At the finish line a lady was unresponsive. We used her bib number to call her family. It wasn’t her bib!!! The bib owner sold it to some guy. It was five hours before they had an id on the lady. And could get her family to her. Yes snitch on bib swappers it could save a life.
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