My Thoughts on the ‘14285’ Boston Bandits.


Yesterday, I saw a tweet going around about the alleged copying of a runner’s Boston Marathon bib. Now, I am not so naive to believe that this is not a regular occurrence at many popular road races, but as a runner, and a three-time Boston-Qualifying-Attempter, it definitely struck a chord for me.

Naturally, outcry from the running community was immediate, and viral – multiple articles popped up about it within hours, including this brash post. What I didn’t expect, however, were the replies from those who not only did not see the actions of these individuals as wrong, but accused runners/marathoners of being out of their gourd for being upset about it.

Now, as a marathoner, I get it. There is something wrong with us – we run 26.2 (or more) for fun. Yes, I realize that sounds like lunacy to a high percentage of the population, and just a few years ago, I thought that, too. But ever since I crossed the finish line of my first marathon in 2011, something inside of me changed. When I reached that goal of a sub-4 my first go-around, I felt like I could do anything…even something big and crazy like qualify for the Boston Marathon. And although I haven’t achieved that goal yet, I know that it *will* happen.

Do the Right Thing

The comments that brushed off the actions of these ‘rogue’ runners as “not hurting anyone” – I just don’t buy it. First of all, it’s just wrong. They stole something – at the most basic level, or if it was “just a race” – they stole a $185 opportunity. Whether they photocopied the bib themselves, or bought it off Craigslist, they went into 26.2 miles on Monday absolutely knowing that they did not EARN that spot. Every legitimate runner on the course sacrificed so much – whether that means hard training, intense fundraising (bibs for Boston have fundraising minimums of $7K!) or both, it is just not right.

But: Marathons are Expensive, I don’t have time to train so who cares if I just run on the streets that are closed anyway, You Runners are Just Wasting Your Time Worrying About This…

Nothing but excuses. Here’s the thing – I do believe in karma and I too, believe that $175+ is a lot of money to run down the streets of any city. But this is our sport, our passion – and as a community, it does hurt when these things happen. We work hard, we pay these fees, and we defend and protect our own because we are runners. We are upset and hurt because these people stole a bib from a legitimate, registered Boston Marathoner.

Even if you’re not a runner, I am sure there is something in your life that you are passionate and connected to. I have written about this before – marathons are more than miles – and if you don’t have a marathon in your life, I suggest you find it now, before it’s too late. Life is too short.

…and a word on Banditing

I’ve read many articles about a history of Boston and bandits. I admit, I haven’t been running long enough to know everything about it, and honestly, I do see the perspective of these runners – but the fact remains – since Boston 2013, the world is a different place. Race officials have to do everything they can to keep people safe, and if that means limiting, to the best of the ability, the race to just those officially registered, then so be it. Maybe that makes me a square, rule-follower, but I’m okay with that.

Summed up?

Maybe a “witch hunt” of these bandits isn’t the best way to make a change, but if even one of those runners steps forward, realizes the impact of their choice and chooses to make a charitable donation, or even do something good for someone else…I think that’s a good first step.


  1. I saw an article on this earlier today and I would like to know if all these runners are in this scheme together and if that is why they all have the same bin number. Regardless, it is wrong. I agree with everything you said. Do you think they’ll be out there flashing this around like th bandit that ran the Publix half in Georgia!

  2. Wearing a flat out fake bib to the mother of all marathons is definitely not ok! I’m not against people using friends bibs to run local races if their friend can’t run for some reason (ie replacing their spot and not using timing chip) since nearly all races won’t allow bib transfers and you aren’t adding to the total number of runners in the race. But when so many runners who qualified for Boston didn’t even get in and you use a fake bib to run anyway- definitely not ok. As for how to reprimand them- I’m at a loss.

    • I agree with you – bib exchanging is one thing, bib faking is another. I saw another article this morning that was about a coach of two of those runners and said that they had TRIED to get a charity bib but didn’t get one on time…that was not cool! I mean, find another race. Wait a year. I don’t like the fact that they felt so entitled to what they wanted, instead of just following the rules.

  3. I totally agree, and it really pisses me off.

    And I call on BS on them buying the bibs on Craigslist, unless these runners are too stupid to realize, that they didn’t have a timing chip…………….

  4. It is a crime — theft of services. It also creates an insurance nightmare for the race director. If a banditting runner gets hurt that runner may not be covered by the race’s insurance policy exposing the race director, organization and permitting authority (e.g. City of Boston) to potential liability.

  5. Totally agree! I do have to disagree with some of the comments though saying it’s OK to run under a friend’s bib. I should admit that I did this once, but I was in high school, so I’ll use the young and dumb excuse if that’s worth anything. Like Kelly says – it’s an insurance nightmare since that person has now not signed a waiver. Also, what if you pass out or have some medical issues – they have no idea of figuring out who you are and might even be calling someone else’s emergency contact number and freaking them out. While many races no transfer policies suck, that doesn’t make it OK to break the rules. The banditing Boston thing – a race so many aspire to and work so hard to qualify for or raise money for – just takes things to a whole other level. So wrong!

  6. Do you have a “special” name for those who enters a race without registering? Well… Down here in Brazil we call them “Pipoqueiros” (Popcorn Runner) because, the number are increasily raising every race and they are “popping” from each corner.

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