21 Rules

for “Borrowing” Race Numbers

by A N Other

originally from a Club Newsletter

   1.   Don't use anyone else's number in any circumstances

   2.   If entries haven't closed, then pay the money and enter in your own name.  If the race is for a good cause, then definitely pay up!

   3.   If entries have closed before the official cut-off, then check on the website whether they will allow number swaps (maybe for an administration fee). If there’s nothing on the website then make a surreptitious enquiry (e.g. do it using someone else's e-mail at work!) to the race organiser to ask whether they will officially accept swaps

   4.   If you still decide to borrow a number, then at least follow rules 5 to 21.

The next rules are to stop you annoying the race organiser

   5.   Don't make up a number (in any circumstances).  There was a guy in a race who made up a number and pinned it on.  Then he ran the route and through the finishing funnel.  Came in the top 20.  At the prize-giving, the woman bearing the official version of ‘his’ number was awarded first place but was still on the course.  Later, the race organisers had to sort out exchanging trophies and vouchers because all the women had to receive higher denomination vouchers than they were awarded in the presentation.

   6.   If you are a leading runner (i.e. could win an individual prize), don't borrow from anyone.

   7.   If the person you are borrowing from is a leading / known runner, don't borrow from him/her.

   8.   Don't use the number of someone of the opposite sex (men, you wouldn't want to win a ladies prize you weren't entitled to, and vice versa).  Also note that some races have different number ranges or colours for men and women.

   9.   Don't use the number of someone older than you (you wouldn't want to win a vet's prize you weren't entitled to).

 10.   Don’t borrow numbers for local cross country leagues.  They are cheap to enter and their profits are donated to other junior and school leagues. Your running could affect the overall individual series positions.

The next rule is to consider the person who you are borrowing from

 11.   There are a few websites that pick up the results from all races, notably “Power of 10” and “Run Britain handicaps”.  Note that by taking someone’s number you may generate a PB (or a PW) for that person or significantly affect their handicaps

The next rules are a little lighter

 12.   If you use the number of an unattached runner, don't run in your club vest.

 13.   Don't use the number of someone in a different club from you (unless you know that that club has no chance of winning a team prize) (and don't run in your club vest).

 14.   If numbers have to be collected on the day, make sure you know the full name, address and date of birth of the person whose identity you are assuming, just in case you are asked.

 15.   If the race numbers have been allocated in age-group bands, try not to use one that is for someone 30 years younger than you. If you do, then apply plenty of Grecian 2000 before you start and hope it's not a rainy day and the dye runs. Or instead run really easily and then explain your aging by the fact that you've had a hard run

 16.   If the race numbers have been marked with sweatshirt size, be ready with a good reason why you're 8 stone and you want an XL (you like plenty of layers in the winter) or you're 16 stone and you want an S (it's for one of the kids).

 17.   If you use the number of a fellow club member then don't stop for the prize ceremony if you've won a team prize.

 18.   If the numbers have names printed on the front and you’re a man and borrow a woman’s number, make sure she is called Chris or Pat not Josephine or Sheila

Please always consider the final 2 rules

 19.   If you use someone else's number, make sure they or their family (who will be on the phone number that they wrote on the entry form) know of your various illnesses, allergies etc should you have an accident or be taken ill during the race.

a.     Many years ago there was a tragic occurrence in the Leeds marathon.  Two brothers were running and by mistake they had swapped numbers.  One had a heart attack and died on the route (NB the only death I know of in 20+ years at Leeds).  The organisers announced over the tannoy for relatives to get in contact.  You can imagine the rest.

b.    You may be fit and healthy but what about accidents?  In road races where the roads are open to traffic you may have had or you will probably know someone who has had a "close shave" with traffic.  Several years ago, one of our club members was knocked down in a race (he suffered a broken arm).  Last year in a local race there was a dispute between runners, marshals, car drivers and a park official. The organisers had great difficulty persuading a car driver to wait 2 minutes and not drive straight at and through the runners standing on the start line.  Anything might have happened.

c.     Fell and trail races may be free of traffic but can you guarantee not to get injured or lost?  How are you going to explain to the fell rescue team that you are not who they are looking for?  Perhaps they'd leave you up there!

 20.   Please consider the insurance implications or running in someone else’s number

a.     Remember you’ve not signed the disclaimer on the entry form (but that is to do with the organiser’s liability) but I’m not sure what the position would be if you caused an accident e.g. you suddenly stopped to tie your shoelace and someone ran into you and was injured

 21.   If, despite the warnings of all the above, you do borrow a number and you are “caught”, don't tell them about the 21 rules. 


And when you do run, have a read here http://www.ukresults.net/misc/annoy.html how you can annoy the race organiser.