An article was recently posted here 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.

I'm very familiar with the author of the article. In fact he hosts a local Half Marathon that I have run and recommend to other runners. However, I find the points of his article only support the race management groups and offer no support to the runners. This issue exists because the race gives runners 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'll quickly sum the article's main points on why runners should not sell their bibs for you:

  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.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not a race director myself, but I am an avid runner so I'd like to offer my thoughts on the subject. In my opinion, these are not dangers or cautions to the independent sale of bibs, but more a lack of interest in race directors to solve a popular issue within the running community.

Currently, more races are offering the option to defer to the next year's race. However, this is still not a very common practice.

My solution is simple: allow bib transfers at the expo. 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.

As I mentioned above, I respect the author of this article and I am sure he fully believes in his ideas. But, I just do not see where any of these four reasons against bib transfers can't be resolved.

Let's examine each issue:

  • Signing a waiver. Getting an individual's signature on a piece of paper is a task that can be done at the expo transfer station.
  • Emergency ID info. Most races have runners handwrite this information on their 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 and 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. If race directors 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.

My response is not intended to support the "black market" of bib selling, but rather to force race directors to think harder on this issue. Injuries or major life events that cause runners to back out of a race can happen during any point in training. There has to be a better way.

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