Is it okay to run a race you didn’t register for?
This question has been posed to me several times–and I’ve considered it a few times too. Runner’s World website refers to it as “banditing” or running rogue. Basically, running in the race even though you didn’t pay for the entry fee.
I considered it once this year when I was training for Hood to Coast. I wanted to participate in a few organized road races to get my training and practice in before Hood to Coast. I paid for the Shamrock 8k and not long after that, I was paying to participate in Reach the Beach. Money was tight and there was a race coming up I wanted to do. The race was insanely priced (in my opinion) and I for a moment I thought, “I could just run it for FUN and not register…” Then I decided not to. I just felt weird about lying.
Talking to some other friends, they said they’d run races “rogue” before. I started to read about it in my running magazines and I realized there were more issues behind it then just the money factor.
First, road racing has become very popular in the United States and races in general are becoming more crowded. When Michael and I rode in Reach the Beach, we registered the first day and got in. I read that the spaces filled up fast and then they shut down registration! I would have been really disappointed if we hadn’t registered in time. I found out later they were able to accept some extra people, so that was good.
Second, course congestion effects everyone; not just the other runners. More people mean more people using the port-a-potties; more people who could need EMS assistance if something goes wrong; and more people using the resources at the water stations that weren’t counted on.
Third, running rogue means the runner doesn’t get a race photo or a medal, and doesn’t get the same satisfaction of winning a race or gaining a qualifying time! What if you beat your PR and qualify for Boston but since you didn’t register, it doesn’t count? That would just suck.
Finally, it’s cheating. The message boards on the Runner’s World Forum are unanimous in saying that bandits are jerks and not paying for a race is stealing.
When I first heard this topic, it was in regards to the Boston Marathon. The article in the magazine was talking about how hard it is to get into Boston –even if you qualify–because it’s become so overcrowded! The article went on to say that this one runner decided to run his OWN race since he couldn’t get in. He ran a marathon (his own route) with a bunch of different people and had a great time. Not quite the same as running in the Boston Marathon, but I see his point.
Hood to Coast has a similar problem. This is my first year experiencing it, but luckily my team captain Leslie is an expert. She’s done it for 9 years and she knows all the ins-and outs of it. Hood to Coast is so popular that it’s become a lottery. Teams wanting to participate have to pay all of the money up front with their entry and it needs to be mailed and post-marked by a certain date. Leslie went to the post office in the middle of the night to make sure our team would get picked! Crazy!
QUESTION: Where do you stand on the “Bandit” issue? Have you ever ran rogue or considered it?