A race bandit is someone who participates in a race without paying the entry fee. The bandit runs (or jogs or walks) the course, drinks the water, eats the food, and accepts a medal, all things that have been paid for by other participants. So what’s the reasoning behind the bandit?
For some bandits, money is a motivator. For others, running as a bandit is a principle-based decision. While there may be arguments for and against the race bandit.
A case for bandits
Cost. A race bandit will clear their conscience of not paying registration fees by not using/taking race resources (food, water, bathroom, loot bag, medal). For them, if they don’t pay and don’t take “stuff,” they’re just enjoying a run with a bunch of other enthusiastic individuals.
Principle. Bandits believe that they have every right to run a race course since their taxpayer. Pesos went towards paying for the road, sidewalk, or trail. To them, as long they stay out of the way of paying participants there is no problem with them running the race as a bandit.
A case against bandits
Stealing. The pro-bandit arguments would be fine, but most bandits aren’t running just to run. They run because they can’t afford to pay (or just don’t want to pay) the registration fees, or because they couldn’t qualify, or because they want to run at race pace with a bunch of other people. Whatever their motivation, running in a race that isn’t free that you didn’t pay for is stealing.
Safety. Let’s say a bandit runs a race and gets injured. Unless the bandit has ID on their person, the race director has no way of knowing who that person is or who to contact on their behalf. On top of that, an injured bandit could take legal action against a race director because the bandit didn’t sign the waiver included in the registration form.
Racing is a business. There are loads of costs (insurance, EMT, police, course measurement, timing, etc.) associated with races. These costs increase regularly.
Bandits are a real headache for race organizers. They use resources that aren’t intended for them, they threaten race cancellation for permit violations, and they screw up results when they use somebody else’s bib number.
Seriously, if you’re a race bandit, listen up. Don’t steal from race directors, or volunteers, or local charities or non-profit orgs, or mom-and-pop restaurants donating food to the finisher tent.
“Running is free. Races are not. Pay for your races. Bandits must not be tolerated. – pambansang legs“