Our Response To Selling Bibs Independently

The topic around selling race bibs has become a heated one at best. There are large groups of people who will shun you if you think of going against the rules and selling your bib. However, are race directors giving runners no other choice?

Our response to those who have issues with selling your bib: (Originally published on Philly.com)

Selling Your Race Bib: Race Directors Have Left Runners No Choice

An article was recently posted regarding the downside of selling a race bib between runners independently. You know the situation; you hop on Facebook and find someone who can no longer run that Half Marathon you have convinced yourself you can now run. The point of the article was to caution against this practice. It’s been my experience that this doesn’t happen because of some money making scheme between the runners. This issue exists because the race gives them no choice. A runner may get injured or a major life event may occur after the transfer period and the race management group will tell them “all sales are final”. I don’t see how this is fair to the runner who just spent their hard earned money on your race. And isn’t the running world all about inclusiveness?

I’m very familiar with the author of the article. In fact he hosts a local Half Marathon that I have run and recommend others to run. However I cannot agree with his points. I find the points of the article only support the race management groups and offer no support to the runners.

I recommend you read the article yourself, however let me quickly sum it up for you. The author makes 4 points on why runners should not be selling their bibs between each other.

  1. Runners must sign waivers for insurance purposes. If you run in someone else’s bib you are not the insured runner.
  2. Emergency ID information is on the bib. This can cause an issue if the emergency information does not match the runner.
  3. Fairness in the race. If someone wins an award during the race however they are not in the proper age group this can cause disqualifications.
  4. Varying bib costs. Since you may have bought the bib at a lower rate you are causing an influx in the market that can impact future race prices.

Allow me to be honest. These are not dangers or cautions to the independent sale of bibs. These issues are the lack of interest in race directors to solve a popular issue within the running community. I’m not a race director myself, so it can be said that I’m not qualified to speak on this. However if these are the four best reasons that exist against race transfers than you do not have the best interest of the runner in mind. You are looking after your best interest.

I am someone who believes if you have an issue with a problem you should bring a solution to the table. There are those races that offer an option to defer to the next year’s race. However this is not a popular practice.

My solution is simple: allow bib transfers at the expo. Independent bib sales exist for a primary reason; the race does not allow a legal way to handle a transfer beyond the initial transfer period. As a result runners must take to social media to find or sell a bib. I am aware transfer periods exist for most races, however the transfer time period is usually weeks before race day. Issues can and will arise well after this time has ended. Race directors must understand this and become more flexible.

While I am not a race director, I can say I work for a very large global technology company. So I can speak with some sort of expertise on my solution. If technology exists that can transfer classified secrets within seconds, I am fully confident in the ability to transfer bib data from one runner to another within 24 – 48 hours of a race.

As I mentioned above, I respect the author of this article so I am not writing this to demean his post (and do not approve of comments that do either). I am sure he fully believes in his ideas and I commend him for that. However I just do not see where any of these 4 issues hold any merit.

Let’s examine each issue:

  • Signing a waiver. Getting an individual’s signature on a piece of paper is not a difficult task. This can be done at the expo transfer station.
  • Emergency ID info. Most races I have run you have had to handwrite this information on your bib. Again, easily done once the bib is in hand. In the event you must print the information on the bib, you can follow the example of the Hot Chocolate 15K in 2015. Print this information out at bib pick up.
  • Race Fairness. If the new runner’s information is transferred to the bib, this no longer becomes an issue.
  • Bib Costs. Personally I believe this issue is one of greed. However I will agree to the authors premise. If you are so concerned that this will cause a financial issue, charge a fee for the transfer. It doesn’t matter which runner pays it as long as the money goes to the race.

This article is not to support the “black market” of selling a bib. I still do not agree with that. This article is to force race directors to become more runner friendly. Injuries or major life events that cause runners to back out of a race can happen during any point in training. And transfer periods are usually cut off weeks before race day. Why should a runner be told “too bad” all because they now can no longer run your race while you are still pocketing their money?


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