Recently someone told me they were running Chicago Marathon. I wondered why since registration closed months ago. Upon inquiring I learned they had bought the race bib/number from a friend (who is injured). USAT (and the Chicago Marathon website) clearly states that such actions are prohibited.

And states:

  • Participant race number bibs are specific personal identifiers and may not be exchanged with or transferred/ sold to any other person.
  • Sale and/or transfer of race entry/bibs is strictly prohibited and will result in the disqualification and/or banning of any individuals involved from future events.

I know we all hate rules, but there is an actual reason for why this policy is in place. A few reasons are below.

#1) Liability/Medical If something were to happen to the new runner (Joe), no one would know. The runner that was injured (John) paid for the bib/number & race day privileges (plus 18 weeks of training hell fun!), although each person is responsible for their own race day health, there is a reason that USATF is in place for races (and not just Chicago Marathon). It covers that person who paid, not for a "illegal" person running.

#2) Age Group One of the biggest reasons is the it will skew the results. Bob ran under Susie's name. Bob won his age group (although really Susie). See what happens? Now you may say, I have no chance of winning anything let alone placing in age group. My response? It doesn't matter if you are the 1st person or last one to cross the line. Its an integrity and ethical issue. You can get banned from life from races if you are caught. Its kind of like crashing the White House State Dinner. Just. Don't. Do It.

#3) Other Some races (like Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon or Marine Corps Marathon for example) are difficult to get into. There is a reason why there is a lottery or registration closes early. Some have transfer deadlines. Use them. If you want to run a "big" marathon, then sign up for it or enter the lottery. Train for it. Don't do it on a whim or because you don't want it to go "to waste".

This person told me they didn't want to the bib "to go to waste" (friend was injured/couldn't run). Its not going to waste. Its called life. We will all get injured at some point in our life training for a race (or just walking down the sidewalk). Its for the reasons I stated above.

Rules are for two reasons. A) Someone caused the problem in the first place so the rule was made B) For our safety. Obey them.

Please run a race, a marathon, whatever, but do it the right, moral way. And for sure as hell get proper credit for it!

What are your thoughts?

Photo by Julian Mason