, Salem, MA


April 4, 2014

On The Run: Marathon bandits: Harmless or harmful?


That hasn’t deterred runners in past years, who are happy to run with no number or official swag just to experience the glorious atmosphere and often painful experience of those 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. During the race, it’s not really an issue for bandits, who are just runners and generally accepted by all. But go online and it’s a different story: there is considerable vitriol directed at bandits. “Bandits are scum and should be treated as such,” according to one poster on the Runners World forum.

Another reason runners may not register for some of the bigger marathons is price, which can run upwards of $200 or more. But there are plenty of marathons out there that charge much lower fees.

I have never run as a bandit, mainly because if I’m going to do a marathon or other long-distance event, I want to do it legitimately. So much goes into the organization of any road race, let alone a massive operation like the Boston Marathon. The tendency of some is to think that nobody will notice one unregistered runner in a field of 30,000, but that’s not the point. Even if nobody notices, running as a bandit is a slap in the face to the registered runners, organizers and volunteers who worked extremely hard leading up to and on race day. If you’re going to run a marathon, go about it the right way and sign up for it. And if you don’t want to do that, then step aside and cheer on those who did.


On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to




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