Running as a bandit has a stigma. Not a good stigma. A bad one.
Just to backup for a second, running bandit means that you run a race without paying the organizers. Apparently, when Mel Brooks, as Moses, was handed the 15 commandments and he dropped the third tablet, running bandit was on the list.
Back to the stigma of running bandit. If you bandit, you are just short of a parole violator, one of the original sins, an evil munchkin etc. You’re not a real runner and you steal from the organizers.
Well, I run bandit, sometimes. I do it for a myriad of reasons and I’m not apologetic. We’ve all done it but some of us are way too sanctimonious about the holiness of running.
So here are my reasons for running bandit.
Last minute decision.
I run an LSD (long, slow distance) every Sunday. Sometimes there’s a race that’s local and for a change of scenery, I will run bandit.
Let’s face it, the races get expensive. Odds are, if I didn’t register this time, I’ll register next time. My personal rule though, is I never take a medal when I bandit. I know those that do but I simply won’t.
Sometimes you have a friend that needs a pace buddy for a race. Typically, those runners are slower than I am but they need the encouragement to continue. I will bandit to pace them and encourage them. The moral support is critical for them to continue.
The anti-bandit community has a few straw man arguments.
Straw Man #1:
Public safety issues.
Let’s be honest, if I’m running, regardless if I’m running solo elsewhere or running bandit, I assume full responsibility.
Straw Man #2:
The argument is that it cost money to shut down the city for the run. Really, the minority that are bandits aren’t using resource disproportionate to their numbers. At the end of the day, the costs are fixed and the runners are the variable.
Straw Man #3:
The stupidest argument I’ve heard is this, if you use resource (drink the water, Gatorade etc.) then the race may run out of resource and you’re denying legitimate racers. Really? If a race organizer runs out of water, I can promise you, the issue isn’t the bandit, rather, it’s the race organizer. If the organizer doesn’t provision enough water, they have bigger problems than the minority that are banditting.
I’ve run bandit before where I motivated people (who registered) to running the best that they could. I’ve also run in races where registered runners were arrogant and obnoxious. I’m cognizant that I’m bandit and I go out of my way to respect the runners and the race. I always marshall in the back and I make people laugh en route. I also never take any medals or more resource than I have to (primarily water). That’s not to say every banditter follows this code but I’m comfortable with what I do.
Let the haters, hate…