So you put off registering for a race because you were waiting to get paid, your original race plan fell through or you just plum forgot. In the meantime, the race sold out. No biggie, you can just buy a bib off Craigslist, right?
You registered for a race and you trained, only to get injured, find out your cousin’s wedding falls on race day or your child has the flu. You’d really like to make at least some of your money back, so why not just sell your bib?
Has something like this ever crossed your mind? Or have you ever bought or sold a race bib through channels besides race-approved bib transfers?
If you’re thinking about buying or selling a bib for an upcoming race, you should give that another think or two.
Bibs are how medical first responders identify runners who go down. Only you’re not a 55-year-old woman with a heart condition, you’re a 29-year-old woman who’s in her first trimester. Or on the flip side, imagine that your significant other gets a phone call from race officials, because that’s the emergency contact number you gave them – but you’re not the one running.
You’re throwing a wrench into the results and maybe even cheating people out of awards. Just in the past few years, two races have made headlines for disqualifying the person to break the tape after discovering that the winner was running under an illegally transferred bib. You may think, yeah, well, I won’t be anywhere near the front of the pack, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme. The fact of the matter is, you are running with someone else’s bib – someone who may not be in the same age group or even be the same gender as you. That will impact both overall results and age group awards.
Running a particular race or recouping your money is not a right. I get it, I get it… you have a perfectly valid reason for not registering sooner or for wanting to sell your bib. Everyone thinks their reason is valid. Chances are if you registered for a race, you checked a box stating that you understood that the race registration was non-transferable and when you pick up your packet, you’ll sign an insurance waiver. (Sidenote: if you’re injured, see if they have a deferment policy.) And I know it stinks if the race you’ve been pondering sells out. But adopting an attitude of “I’ll run it anyways, rules be damned!” isn’t the way to handle things. Races sell out, just like concerts; running with an illegal bib causes problems for the race organizers and for actual registered runners. Find another race, or if you’re treating the race like a training run, just go run for free!
I didn’t realize how strongly I felt about this issue until I started seeing people posting on my running group’s Facebook page about buying and selling bibs for a popular local race that is sold out. Life happens, which means that you can’t always meet race registration or transfer deadlines. I get it. But life happens in all kinds of ways that cost us non-refundable deposits. You don’t try to argue with RDs that because you were sick on the last day of early bird registration that you deserve that lower price, do you?
The way I see it, selling your race bib or buying one illegally isn’t an ethical gray area; it’s just wrong.
How do you feel about buying and selling race bibs?