I initially saw the article in the print version of Runner’s World. It was shared with me by a couple of readers. ‘The Bandit’s Manifesto’.
In it, they list 10 things not to do if you bandit a race along with three things you should do. In printing this article, they are giving runners the green light to bandit a race.
Last week the article was published online, resulting in much criticism.
We don’t condone banditing, but if you must we have some thoughts
The author goes to great lengths say why banditing is wrong. But hey, since you are going to do it anyway, here’s how to do it without being an a**hole.
After I wrote an article calling out a popular blogger for running portions of races that she did not register for, there was much debate. In response, Runner’s World published an article It is Never, Ever Okay To Run a Race You Didn’t Pay For.
Banditing is Never OK
The latest article throws the statements made in the previous article out the window. I will address a few of the points
Medical/liability – The article states that you should see a doctor before running. Fine, this would apply to all runners – make sure your body can handle it. But this does not guarantee that you will not need assistance on the course. If you are a bandit, the race does not know who you are, or who to contact if you are non responsive. These instances may be rare, but they do happen. The more people who are emboldened to bandit, the more likely it is that the worse case will happen.
Supporting Friends – The article states that you should support friends the last few miles (but only if race officials allow). Well, if race officials allow this, then you are not banditing. For USATF sanctioned races, pacing by unregistered runners is strictly prohibited and could result in disqualification.
Don’t Argue With Race Officials – The article states that you should leave the course if asked. So, basically they are saying that it’s OK as long as you don’t get caught. No, it’s not.
Taking Resources – The article says that you aren’t to take a medal, Gatorade, etc along the course. Even if you are not taking tangible support or bling, races have costs associated with road closures, police presence, coordinating volunteers, etc. If you run a closed course race while the race is in progress, you are taking advantage of all the resources that the race provided, including the time and effort of the race and volunteers.
From the article:
But the fact remains that every year, thousands of otherwise-respectable runners turn to banditry. Why do they do such a thing? There are plenty of reasons, the first of which is money. Running the New York City Marathon, for instance, costs $295.
It is expensive to put on The NYC Marathon. Closing roads in NYC is not cheap. The cost of police is not cheap. The New York Road Runners is non-profit. If you apply this excuse beyond road running, you can see the absurdity. We buy the things we can afford. We aren’t entitled to those things that we cannot afford. If a race is important enough to you, you will find a way. If you simply cannot afford it, then run another race, or volunteer to help on race day if you want to be a part of the experience.
Response From The Community
The response was largely critical. I reached out to Race Directors, and here is a sampling of their responses.
J. Alain Ferry – Race Director
Chris Uszynski – Race Director
Simply put, do not enter a closed course during a race that you are not registered for. By doing so, you put yourself above the runners that are running legitimately. You are adding to the strain on resources whether you take the Gatorade and space blanket or not.
No one would argue that if everyone had their own personal unregistered pacer on the course, that it would be a huge issue. So, why is your friend so special that they deserve to have you run the course with them the last few miles? While I was struggling just to finish The NYC Marathon, I was inspired by many runners in the last few miles. Many runners encouraged me, and I tried to encourage others as well. You can have much more impact on the side of the course encouraging EVERYONE that passes by. Your friend or loved one will make it under their own strength with the shared community of those facing the same struggle. Be there at the finish, and along the course, but not ON the course unless you are authorized to be there.
Bandits put themselves above others that paid or raised money for their entry. Those that bandit feel that they are somehow entitled to something that the rest of us are not.
If you jumped in and helped your friend and were completely unaware of the implications, now you know. If you read this article you are aware of the issues, and despite what Runners’s World wrote it would be impossible for you to bandit a race without being a complete ***Hole.
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