Dear Brad, How do you feel about people that bandit races? I recently banditted a 5k and actually won it. This is the first time I've ever done this and I don't feel like I cheated anybody. I won by a decent amount so I wasn't in anyone's way. I didn't take any refreshments or get any of the same things those that registered did like a shirt or medal. The race registration was $20.00. For me registering late it would have actually been $30.00 which is a lot for a high school aged kid. I would have gladly registered if they had a cheaper registration around $10.00 where you don't get a shirt. I know many people look down on banditting which is completely understandable if it's a crowded race, a marathon you have to qualify for, or even a fundraiser race. This race was none of the above. Do you think it's morally wrong the way I did it? I wanted some good training and to test my fitness against other runners. You usually pay for goods or services since neither were provided it makes me feel like what I did was not dishonest. There was a point in the race where I had to hold my own arm up to stop a car. I don't see the problem in banditting races as long as you don't get in the way or take any of the things that are for registered runners.
Now, don't think I don't understand you at all. I do. I get it. It sucks when day of race prices go up so high. When I was a kid race prices were around $12 for pre. $15 day of. Then it went up to $20 pre registration. Now, some 5K's are $40. Especially for mid pack runners, being a bandit is tempting.
BUT...I have been a race director. We put on a memorial run for my Dad for 11 years. A lot of money and stress goes into races. We start preparing months in advance. We order shirts based on projected numbers. And every extra shirt we have we are out money. Which covers costs (And there are a lot of costs) and we donated to rest. You need to realize 99% of the runners prefer to race for free. I've run countless races, 75% of the shirts I have never even put on. Should I pay less because I didn't wear mine?
It is also a pain with timing. Nothing screws things up more than an unregistered runner crossing the finish line.It throws everyone's times off and is a headache for an already stressed out race director.
Liability is another issue. A year or so ago a man did a "Mud Run" without registering. Well, he broke his neck and then sued the race. Reminds me of the people robbing a home who get injured and then sue. (It's happened. I kid you not.)
Do you sneak into Disneyland because the prices are too high? I'd hope not. People have a service or product. They set a price. If it is worth it to you, you pay the money. If not, you don't. Unless you have permission from the race director, I am against
So don't be a cheap skate. Either pay for the race or don't run.
And that's the straight dope!