Bib Swapping: What Race Directors Want you to Know

In late November, the MRA released a cheeky video for the dos and don’ts of bib trading featuring some familiar faces from the Manitoba running community. While it will make you laugh out loud (“Run fake Emily!”) the message is actually a serious one. You may just think that the race is trying to take a bit more cash off of you in the form of a transfer fee (these fees actually go to the costs required to process the trade), but there are a lot of really important reasons why you should follow the rules of the race and make sure that if you have to sell or buy a bib that you do it properly.

“It doesn’t hurt anyone”

Well it might hurt the person who runs with your bib. When the original registrant committed to the race and signed up they would have provided their emergency contact info. If someone other than the original person runs with that bib without an official transfer, the bib number in the system will reflect the original runner’s information. If the new runner crashes on the course, no necessary medical or emergency contact information will be available. If you only take away one message from this article, make it this one: bib swapping puts the runner at risk and can cause confusion and delay of care in an emergency situation.

“It’s not like I’m going to win the race or anything”

While you as the purchaser of the bib may not be in contention to be a top finisher, any positioning that the person unduly earns will skew the results for everyone else. A man running in a ladies’ division, a person running in the wrong age category, these things change the total results for everyone. Be as fair to your fellow runners as you would want them to be to you.

 “But I paid for the bib and it will just go to waste otherwise”

I hate to be a Negative Nelly, but when you registered for the event, you would have agreed to the safety waiver and the terms and conditions of that race, most of which standardly state that there is a No Refund policy. Also, the concept that “it goes to waste” if you don’t use it isn’t entirely true. A race shirt and medal has already been purchased for you when you registered, but your race fees go towards much more than just the swag. The cost of the police services, traffic control, road permits, supplies and a variety of other expenses all are accounted for in that amount and these items go on whether you are there or not.

Bib swapping is a serious issue that Race Directors wish runners would better understand. The need to keep all of their runners safe and accounted for as well as to create a fair competitive environment is top priority in creating a race day experience that can be enjoyed by everyone.


United Way Winnipeg