I often have athletes that I coach decide that they want to run a race in training to help them prepare for their up-coming goal race. Sometimes they either want to use the race to simulate the conditions for their goal race, or they want to get in a long run while having the company of other runners and the help of aid stations.
Many times my clients ask me if they must register and pay for the race or can they just run it and not take the medal as your cross the finish line. I always tell my clients that they need to register and pay the fee. This is the same information I pass on to you. I recommend this for many reasons.
Running a race without registering and paying the entry fee is very common. It is called being a bandit. The first reason to register for a race is to be allowed to be on the course. I most cases races do not want unregistered runners on the course. They can be a liability to both the race and the other runners. They put an additional burden on race officials and they can cause someone else or themselves to get hurt in some way.
The second reason is to think about the other runners. Use the 2007 Chicago Marathon as an example. Both years the weather was warmer than usual for that time of year. There were even reports of aid stations that had run out of water or Gatorade. Imagine yourself in the marathon that year. The temperature is in the low 90’s and you are approaching mile 20. As we all know mile 20 seems to be where everyone falls apart in the marathon. As you approach the aid station you feel like a glass of water or Gatorade is essential to helping you make it to the finish line. As you reach the aid station you see a volunteer hand out the last cup of water to a runner without a bib on. You decide to move on to the Gatorade just to discover that it too has run out. Now you have to run another mile hoping that the next aid station has fluids all the while know that the glass of liquid you paid for when registering for the race was just stolen by the bandit just in front of you who did not pay the entry fee. How would you feel?
The third reason is for safety purposes to you. You have decided to bandit a 25 kilometer trail race. The trail takes you through a very remote section of the wilderness that consists of steep hills that you must negotiate. You think that the race will make an ideal situation for you to get in a long run and hill training to prepare you for an up-coming hilly marathon. About mid-race your reach the top of a hill and you are headed down the other side of it. Suddenly you toe catches a rock and you are tumbling down the hill. Sometime during your slide down the hill you hit your head. Now you are unconscious. A race official is notified of your position and emergency personnel are summoned. The only problem now is that they have no idea who you are because you have no identification and no bib number to match up with registration information. The emergency personnel have no idea what medication you may or may not be allergic to or what your past medical history may include that could help them treat you.
These are just three reasons why it is important to register and pay the entry fee anytime you run a race. Being a bandit can seem like a cheap way to get into a race it should be avoided. Do yourself and all your fellow runners a favor and pay that entry fee.