BibSwitch, Bandits and The Struggle

Committing to a race is a big deal.  You train, you schedule, you pay (sometimes a lot) and you look forward to it.  Then life gets in the way.  For one bummer reason or another you aren’t able to use the bib you trained and paid for.  You’re also unable to sell, give or donate that bib to someone else.  It’s an issue we’ve all faced and BibSwitch is trying to make a change.

In addition to runners who can’t toe the line on race day with a bib they’ve paid for, there are those who just help themselves to the race course.  Called bandits, these are people who haven’t registered (or paid) for a race but run it anyway.  They use the race’s course marshals, water stops, timing devices, finish line treats and might even help themselves to a finisher medal.  This is definitely stealing.  I don’t know why someone would ever do this, just like the people who cheat to qualify for Boston, and it’s sad.  Maybe if there was a way for runners to transfer bibs they’re not going to use to someone who would otherwise bandit, everyone would be happy at the end of the day.

So there are people who would love to pass their unused spot in a race to someone and can’t.  There are people who want to run the race and can’t register so they bandit.  There has to be an answer.   Bibswitch is trying to work with race directors to come up with a much-needed solution to this problem.  Life happens.  If you can’t make it to the baseball game, you can give your tickets to a friend.  The tickets and seats are paid for.  You have the right to do with them as you please (mostly).  You essentially own them.

When you register for a race, you own a place at the event.  Why, then, can you not do what you want with that spot?  Race directors often point out the safety issues related to not knowing a runner’s actual identity.  What if they get injured?  What if you pass your bib to someone in a different age group?  What if they win an award but it’s in your name?  Having an anomalous race result could end up in you being accused of cheating.  The myriad issues are complex.

I see it all the time on social media.  “Can’t run this weekend.  Who wants my bib?”  I understand both sides of the issue.  Sometimes I think about grabbing one of those bibs for a surprise race weekend.  I never have.  I never will.  But someone should.  That paid entry deserves to be used.  What the right answer for both race directors, volunteers, medical staff and race participants exactly is I’m not sure.  I am glad that BibSwitch is trying to sort out a winning solution on behalf of all of us who race.


What do you think of BibSwitch?  Bandits?

***This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own***

3 thoughts on “BibSwitch, Bandits and The Struggle

  1. @TwinsRun

    When you register for a non-refundable / non-transferable race, you agree to abide by the rules. If you don’t like the rules, don’t register for the race. Simple as that. We’ve lost money on other non-refundable tickets and reservations so it’s comparable to other policies.

    1. Post author

      I totally understand that. The issue comes when the contract you agree to says ‘no refunds. no reschedules’ and the race reschedules due to weather. I couldn’t run the new date and had to pay an additional deferral fee. They broke the contract, not me, but I was punished.

  2. @TwinsRun

    Oftentimes, it is not as simple as you think to officially transfer bibs. Most races factor in the no-show rate when ordering supplies for races. Also, for many small and/or non-profit races, it can be costly and time-consuming to allow transfers.


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