You’ve trained for months, followed a stringent running plan, and you’ve psyched yourself up the morning of the race. You get your gear together, get your energy packs stocked, and grab your bib to head to the marathon starting line. And after 26.2 grueling miles, you go to reward yourself by checking out the photo evidence of the event … only to find that your bib number has been spotted on several different runners. “How in the world?” you ask.
As WIRED reports, it’s all a part of a new trend called social media banditing, and it could be affecting you at your next race. With marathon season in full swing and the New York City Marathon set to take place on November 5, runners will soon be putting their race day outfits together and that naturally includes their bib number.
But the problem, experts say, comes when you post your bib number ahead of the race on social media.
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As WIRED reports, bib thieves then take the numbers, create counterfeit bibs and strap them on in time for the race.
And for registered runners who have paid for the marathon fees (which cover the permits, police coverage, food, drink, and first aid), the people who run world-class races for free can be more than a little frustrating.
“The methodology of the people trying to run a race without a real number has become more sophisticated,” Christine Burke, the vice president of runner products and services at the New York Road Runners, tells WIRED. “But I think the technology and tools we have to monitor them have become more sophisticated, too.”
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Luckily for runners, there are campaigns in place to catch the bib thieves attempting to grab and steal your number. That being said, it’s important to be careful with your social activity.
“The social desire of someone to be in their running community on the day of the TCS New York City Marathon can be huge,” says Burke, “and they’ll go to any means necessary.”
Protect yourself, prepare yourself the day of the race, and enjoy every last bit of those 26.2 miles—you deserve it.