This past weekend was the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, Texas. Initial runner-up Kolin Styles was declared the winner of the 26.2-mile race when Scott Downard was disqualified because he crossed the finish line with another person’s number and failed to register for the race.(Read more here)
Many of us have been in this situation before: You paid a good deal of money for entry into a race, but in the days leading up to the race, an obligation pops up, you get injured, you are sick, etc.
The race is sold out. You have a friend who really wanted to run the race but didn’t register in time. What do you do?
Do you illegally give them your bib? Or do you accept it as a forfeited $ while both you and friend watch on the sidelines?
Many (if not most) races these days list the following terms and conditions when signing up for a race:
“Once you have entered a race, your entry fees are non-refundable, non-exhangeable, and non-transferable under any and all circumstances, including, but not limited to, cancellation of the event or of your participation.” - NYRR website
What does this really mean? If circumstances prevent you from participating in the event, you are out of the money you paid for entry, you are prevented from giving (or selling) your bib to another runner, postponing (deferring) until next year, or switching to a shorter/later race.
Two years ago, I filled my 2010 race calendar – the four big races I signed up for were the Brooklyn Half-Marathon, Syracuse 70.3 Half Ironman, Army Ten-Miler, and NYC Marathon. The cost of these four races was almost $600. Weeks after I paid for the races, I found out I was pregnant with my son. I immediately went to all four websites hoping that there was a loophole to get me out of the races without losing money (even though I knew there wouldn’t be). Three were non-refundable. I was able to defer my guaranteed entry into one of the non-refundable races (NYC Marathon) until 2011 – however, I was NOT reimbursed the $175 (or so) I paid for the initial race entry. Yes, you read that right. I had to pay the entire race entry again in 2011. (Note: the Army Ten-Miler was the only one I did not lose money – see below)
Why do races make race entry non-refundable, non-exchangeable, and non-transferable?
I’m sure race directors have a long list of reasons why they put these conditions into place. Allowing runners to transfer a bib to someone else likely creates more paperwork and headaches. It could be that they only want those that are 100% dedicated to train for and run the race to sign up to prevent a large number of backouts.
Unfortunately, my gut tells me that a large part of it is due to the money they make off of no-shows and cancellations – especially in the cases of a race like the NYC Marathon where you can defer a year, but you lose the entry fee. I cancelled 6 months in advance – so it wasn’t as though my shirt had been ordered or food was allocated for me at the finish line.
There are races that allow entrants to legally sell their race bibs to those wishing to gain entrance. The Army Ten-Miler is a great example of this kind of race. It’s a HUGE race – drawing almost 30,000 runners. The race sells out FAST. But the best part is that they have an online transfer program AND facilitate an online “seller’s board” in which you can post how many race entries you have and how much money you are selling them for. My husband and I took advantage of this program – and were able to sell our bibs to another couple. It was quick, simple, and we all won!
What are your thoughts? Are you completely against someone running with a borrowed (or purchased) bib? Have you ever given (or sold) a friend your bib (or vice-versa)?