Earlier today, Shelly and I ran a trail marathon. A few miles in, we ended up behind a few people that happened to be discussing race entry fees. I believe they were talking about the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. Being the antagonizer I am, I suggested they just bandit the race. [For those that aren't familiar with the term, "banditing" refers to running a race without paying to run the race. ]
Of the group, one sounded interested in the idea, another was appalled, and a third didn’t talk to us the rest of the race. Seeing an opportunity to have some fun, I began describing the “ethics of banditing” to the interested girl. I made up some rules on the spot, which I later shared on Facebook:
1. Don’t start in the gate, run with your pace group. Don’t cross the finish line, either.
2. Don’t use any aid. Ever.
3. Don’t get hurt. If you do, drag your ass off the course and get your own help.
4. Pick up all trash you encounter.
5. Don’t impede a paying runner in any way.
6. If anyone needs help, don’t be a douche and just run past them.
If you’re confronted by race officials, tell them you’re cleaning the course. Get pissed and tell them you’re missing your three kids’ soccer games.
The whole idea made me laugh. Banditing is usually akin to punching a volunteer in the face… it’s just something that you don’t do.
But then I started thinking about it.
Is banditing really that bad?
What if you did follow my made-up rules? There are lots of pro and con arguments for banditing. At first I thought of it as open-source software, but the analogy didn’t quite fit. It would be more like pirating something, then donating to the owner.
Okay, that analogy doesn’t quite work, either.
What would happen if there was a sudden “bandit” movement where people regularly bandited races, especially if they applied a “bandit code” to their sneaky endeavors?
Give me your thoughts in the comments section!