Today, the story is Bandits.  Running bandits.  I googled this to find some cool articles, and of course as is prone with Google, I got lots of different hits, some having nothing to do with running.

And I found several articles, all of which I mostly agree with, and that you can find here.

The Number One Reason Not To Bandit A Race

Bandits Are Bad For The Running Business

Never Bandit A Race Under Any Circumstance

Unregistered Runners at SF Marathon

However, I’m talking about what happens not only to us at the back of the pack, but the volunteers, and indeed on a different level the ones in the front!

  • Having been very satisfied with a 10:40 pace as a 50 year old, I’m assured that on any given marathon or race, I’m going to make it under the wire in enough time, so as to not have the course closed on me.   However, running with bandits has me coming in to empty water stations, empty Gu boxes and volunteers who are wiped out already with the ton of people coming through.
  • Who knows how many actual bandits there are, but how will the race directors know how much materials to order for everyone, if the number of runners exceeds the paid registration?
  • As a volunteer at Mile 20 in LA, I can assure you that we are VERY concerned about those folks who come in wiped out (as Mile 20 is supposed to feel), who need our help, our aid…and there’s something of a resentment brewing inside of me as I watch non-paid runners glide on past…or even get water and throw their cups on the ground.  If you pay for it? Yeah, go ahead and throw it down.  That’s why I’m here.  It’s my job.
  • I remember Napa to Sonoma half last summer, when there was not ONE drop of water at an Aid station.  The worker there started yelling at us…”Don’t bug me about it…all the runners came through already!”  And I’m standing there parched…and I didn’t bring water because I knew when and where to get some … (that was the last race that I relied on the aid station)…but there’s a level of hostility that arises…

In general, a bandit is actually a thief.  Even the pacers…which brings up a separate issue.  If you’re pacing someone at a Marathon, and you’re a bandit, then you are doing two disservices.  One to the race directors and volunteers…but other, more significantly is the fact that is seems more like cheating. 

I believe in pacers.  I’m having one at the Marine Corps Marathon.  But, you will bet your life that he will have a paid registration, and a bib, and will be able to enjoy every bit of the marathon …legally.  This includes the crowds, the volunteers, the water, the excitement…and me. 

Because no one steals from Ms. V.

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3 thoughts on “Bandits Beware

  1. I have mixed feelings on running bandit…

    If you are going to Bandit a race…then carry your own water and nutrition. DO NOT take anything from the race.

  2. I agree with you for the most part. Those who don’t paid should not use the resources paid for by those who registered. Having said that, I, myself have bandit a race before as a pacer but I bought my own water and used nothing from the aid stations. I also joined my runner a mile into the race to make sure I was not another body crowding up the startline and stepped out about a mile before the finish line so that the photographers would not waste any film on me. I don’t see the harm doing it this way but as you said, I’m sure most bandits do not even think of other people who have paid and who may not have arrived at the aid station yet. I think people just need to be more considerate if they are going to do this.

  3. While I dont agree with you that bandits steal energy and motivation, I do agree that it is wrong…in most cases. I think a lot of people bandit races because race fees have become excessive and in challenging economic times, it makes it difficult for some people. Having said that, LA Marathon raised the fee $20 for 2011, that puts another $500,000 in the coffers of the LA Marathon. If I wasnt committed to running this race with the SRLA kids…I wouldnt.

    Having said that, here is an example of what I consider to be acceptable…

    2010 LA Marathon – My running partner Melissa met me at mile 20 and ran the last 6 miles with me. Not only did she carry her own water, she provided energy not only to me, but those around me. She cheered on those that we passed that were obviously hurting and in pain. For me it made all the difference in the world and did it hurt the LA Marathon or anyone racing…NO!

    Im OK with pacers as well…as long as they take nothing from the race/racers.

    I know we could argue this forever…so this will be my final comment. Can we still be friends??? 🙂

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