I’ve never qualified for Boston. I’m not sure I will ever qualify for Boston. Does that mean I can’t run Boston? Nope. I could bandit run it.
If you’ve never heard this term, it refers to the person who runs in the race without registering. They don’t pay a fee, they don’t get a chip, they don’t get bib, or a finishing time, or anything for that matter. They just run with everyone else.
So what’s wrong with that?
The anti-bandits (smokies) say that it spoils the race. The non-paying folks cheapen it for people who’ve earned the right to be there, who have paid their dues in sweat, and bought their place in cash. The bandits jump in and lunch on the set-up. They enjoy the official course and the aid stations and the snacks at the end without having to pony up a penny, and without having to work for it. They can even pull their pictures from the lost and found section of the race photos. They are like wedding reception crashers, only a lot sweatier.
The bandits say: What’s the big deal? So 20 extra people run Boston among the 1,000’s there already. It hurts nobody. They don’t run out of water and the bandits aren’t crashing through people to steal first place. They aren’t even snagging a free medal at the end. It’s no different than being out running on your favorite course and suddenly you are surrounded by people in the middle of a race. What’s the disruption? How would anyone know anything is different? And let’s be honest, is it really that big a deal if a few extra people snatch an orange at the end? Especially when most races end up discarding far more than that afterwards.
Pardon Me, Your Bib Is Not Showing
I’ve always wondered why I never saw bandit runners at races before. Then I was looking at a set of race photos and couldn’t figure out why so many people didn’t have a bib on in the pictures. Some of them wore them on their backs, but some just didn’t seem to have one on at all. How stupid, I thought. Now I realize that many (most?) of them were bandit runners. Out there having a race for the day without shelling out the $25 (or more) for the race.
Somehow, it bothered me actually seeing them. When they were these mysterious, unseen runners, it never made a difference. But now, seeing their faces, and them running between the real racers, it made me mad. I know in many races I’ve had to slow up or jump to the side to avoid other runners who were slower or faster than me. What if some of the bandits got in my way at some point and I had to slow down or move to get around them? They didn’t pay their money like I did, and now they are spoiling my race. I don’t mind moving for the other racers, because that’s part of the race that we all signed up for, but not for the bandit who didn’t pay like the rest of us.
I think my final thoughts on it are that the bandit runners are thieves. They are the same people that take two newspapers from the paper vending machine. The same people that shut off the gas pump but empty the gas from the hose into their tank when filling their car (I saw a cheapo in his Jaguar do that). The same people that buy something from the store so they can use it for a day, and then return it the next day saying they didn’t like it.
It’s theft, plain and simple.