An Open Letter To Those Who Run Races Without Paying An Entry Fee (& Take The Medal)

Dear Runner Without A Bib,

Yes, you. The one who just crossed my finish line and won’t ever obtain official timing results because, well, you didn’t register to run this race. Nope. Instead, you got in line with the rest of the runners who saved their money to pay their entry fee and who signed off on letting race and medical staff care for them if and when it’s necessary. Those who take flight trusting that what they paid for will be a meaningful, safe experience.

And then, there’s you.

The girlfriend, boyfriend, track star, daughter, sister, brother, whatever who stepped onto our turf without actually paying for the race. We’d love to call you out on that, but we don’t know your name because you’re not in our registration system.

No, I’m not referring to the person who is pacing a family member through parts of the course. I’m referring to the runner who came to the race, ran without a bib, crossed the finish line, and took a medal.

Shame on you.

Not only are you taking away what we hoped would be fair competition, but you’re doing a multitude of other damage without even knowing it:

You’re robbing charities of your due contribution. We put on races to raise funds for non-profits 99% of the time. That contribution is worked into your entry fee. When you run the race for selfish reasons and decide to forgo registration, you forgo the fee and are taking away funds that could help children and adults with mental and physical disabilities as well as financial issues and chronic illness.

You’re putting yourself in danger. We don’t want runners to wear bibs just to look cute or to get an accurate chip time. We want you to wear them because they are part of your safety plan. Do you HAVE to fill out the back of your bib with your emergency contact and your blood type and allergies? No, but part of REGISTERING is putting this information in our computer system. So, nameless – when you need help somewhere on the course, we can relay your bib information to our net control and identify who you are. Let me guess: “That’ll never happen to me.” Seems like your mentality.

You have an unfair advantage; period. Everyone else pays for the race. You didn’t pay for it. It’s point blank not fair and not ok. Also, it isn’t very smart – the internet has given race directors the ability to stop fraud in races (cutting the course and split mats; running without paying for registration) like never before.

So, what do I want you to know? I want you to know that we see you. We may not immediately notice you walking past us through the finish line chute; it may take a few months or even a couple years to catch on to you – but we see you.

Other RDs are not as outspoken as me and would let things slide. I took medals off of three people who I noticed ran without registering and finally fessed up that it seemed too expensive.

No way. No how. Not on my turf.

Pro-tip: Ask for a discount and we will almost always give you one.


Two eyes watching you

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Those Who Run Races Without Paying An Entry Fee (& Take The Medal)

  1. who is stupid to run without a bib? I’d think it would be VERY noticeable! When you don’t run registered, unless you are waring a watch, you don’t know how you did and I, don’t know about y’all cheaters, but I like knowing how fast I ran and where I can improve!


  2. I’m someone that isn’t afraid to list the names of those we call “turkeys” at the registration table so that my volunteers know that a few certain people who claim they registered but never do don’t get free entries because that happens all the time too. We never get those registrations but they show up every year wanting to run the race and get all the benefits without paying!!!


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