Boston Marathon Bib Stealing

Kara Bonneau of Durham, North Carolina

If you are not part of the running community you probably haven’t heard about a situation that happened at the Boston Marathon this year where four bandits made copies of a bib and printed it out to use to run the race.

When the owner of bib #14285 went online to view her race photos on she found her photo along with four other individuals wearing the same bib!

This has gotten a lot of publicity in social media and also recognition by the Boston Marathon Association.


Four other runners wearing Kara’s bib number

Of course this is also theft.  You are stealing someone’s photograph of their bib number and printing it out so you can run a race that you didn’t pay for.  People don’t just register for Boston or get in for a lottery.  You have to QUALIFY for it or raise money for a charity (and it’s a lot of money you must raise).  This is what makes the Boston marathon such a coveted race to run.  The bandit runners also took medals that they did not pay for!  They also probably used water, and fuel sources on the race course that other runners’ registration fees pay for.

And then there is the issue of safety.  When you register for a race, you also sign a waiver. There is also an area on the back of your bib where you should fill out personal information about yourself, emergency contact information and important medication information.  Should you become hurt or unconscious during the race, this information is helpful to the first responders.

When I first saw these pictures of the four individuals circulating through my social media channels asking people to identify these runners I was very surprised.  I will admit that I am naive about the unethical things that happen at races so people can run them.  I don’t even know the half of what goes one for people to steal to get into races.  But then I saw more and more coverage about it and that the Boston Athletics Association is getting involved.

As I did more research on this topic I found another news story about it from with the wife of the owner of Foursquare running under a fake bib number.  How sad.

“The owner of the real bib looked closely at the bandit’s photo using her bib and saw a twitter handle on it.  She then researched on twitter and saw conversations being tweeted shere Chelsa Crowley, wife if Foursquare Founder Dennis Crowley tweeted out that she was looking for a bib.  Someone tweeted back, “Fake bib? 34033” and she replied with , “Shhh.”

What a shame.

Dennis and Chelsa ran the marathon together last year and got separated before the finish line and wanted to run together again this year but his wife couldn’t get a bib. She crossed the finish line last year just minutes before the bombs went off. He did not, so he was allowed to return again this year. They said they donated $5,000 to charity this year and that there was no malicious intent to what they did using a fake bib this year.  Just because you donate money to a charity doesn’t mean you can make your own bibs and think that it justifies why you are stealing someone else’s bib number!  Shame on you!

The rules for the Boston Marathon and other races are clear when they specify that no one is allowed to wear the bib number of an official entrant.  In the past the B.A.A. has not allowed runners who have been found duplication bibs to run future races held by their organization.

This year’s race was spectacular and inspiring.  I know cheating in sports is common.  It’s just disappointing to really know that it happened at the Boston marathon also.  I hope there will be a way in the future to stop this behavior; but someone will always find a way to outsmart the system.  And I hope it doesn’t come at the expense of those who pay the registration fees in the end.