Not too long ago there was a runner who participated in a marathon. To pass time, she decided to take selfies to keep herself motivated. Quite harmless fun.
Personally I’ve never thought of doing that as when I’m running, the only thing I’m focused on would be to finish the distance in one piece. Besides, I don’t look very photogenic when I’m all huffing and perspiring. Unlike this guy :
Nevertheless, the post got so popular, it went viral. Which was probably the inspiration for another blogger to do the same thing.
The thing was, she didn’t pay for the registration and crashed in the event. It was made worse when she was disrespectful to the other athletes and making inappropriate jokes. It was also reported that she took the refreshments during the event and a medal at the end.
When I first read about this, I was quite put off. And as expected, a lot of people were not happy about her behaviour. Going through the comments, the crux of it was because of her not paying for the event. Part of the costs to go for safety, security, refreshments and whatnots.
And that’s how I learnt about the term, “race bandits” – people who crash in running events without paying for them.
A non relevant picture
I don’t condone her behaviour. And I was bothered by how rude she was to other people and she took food and a medal when she didn’t pay for it. But the thing is, it doesn’t really bother me that she crashed in the event.
Because possibly a number of people have bandit-ed a race at least once in their lives be it intentional or not.
While I haven’t done such a thing personally, I have thought about doing it. As I live in an urban area, it’s not such a big deal for 10 km runs and under. However while I was training for the marathon, going for distances 20 km and over, it can get quite challenging to plan for a suitable route – no running children, no traffic lights, no cracked concrete side-walks etc.
I was stressing so much about my 32 km path that Cart said that I could crash in the Roma Ostia Half Marathon that coincided that day. Even a mutual friend who was doing the half marathon suggested the same. At first I thought that they were joking, also it feels shameless to be doing something that I didn’t pay for. But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was and the more willing I was to give it a go.
It’s not an issue about not being able to afford paying for the event. And I am not convinced that bandit-ing is being disrespectful to people who has taken the time to train and travel to the race.
For the Maratona di Roma event itself which I participated in, there were a total registration of 19 thousand. However on the actual day, only around 15 thousand turned up for the actual event. Around 20% of the registrations unaccounted for. Which probably means that the organizing would be 120% ready right?
It’s just that the final 10 km while I was doing the race, there was a crowd of workers hovering around the refreshment tables, the porta-potties that I saw were completely stuffed. I was surprised to see that there were people already disassembling the barricades and at the end of the race, I didn’t get a thermal cover and there were no massage kiosks to be seen. Something I was really looking forward to with my sore and aching feet.
I know that I’m one of the last few runners but it seems quite disrespectful.
But please don’t misunderstand. I am not complaining and overall, I did have a good experience. But my point is, regardless if a person have paid or not for an event, stuff like this happens. Sometimes kiosks run out of food. Sometimes there isn’t enough stuff to be given out at the end of the race. I don’t think any organization would be 100% smooth, 100% of the time.
Which is why I don’t see the big deal about bandit-ing. Typically around 10 – 20% of the registrars don’t show up for an event anyway, so I don’t see how it’s taking away from another person. I mean it’s already there as a public commodity – the path and the barrier. Might as well take advantage of it.
Of course, if it were me, what I would do instead is to :
- Go right back at the end of the line and start probably 30 minutes after the last person has passed.
- Respect registered athletes
- Never take any of the refreshment.
- Obviously not take a medal
- Not turn this into a regular basis.
- Don’t do it unless absolutely necessary.
- Be discreet about it.
In the end, I didn’t bandit the half marathon due to the weather forecast. But if you think race bandits are bad, I think jeopardizing a race like this is even worse :