I like rules. I make a lot of them—for myself as well as for others. Rules are in place to ensure that things run smoothly, including in a race. So, I did not protest when the wristband was attached to my wrist when I picked up my race kit and told it needed to stay there till race day.
But this rule was such a pain—for everyone. Some didn’t want it because they were prohibited from wearing it at work. Some had household chores to do. Some felt it would clash with their OOTDs. And some simply didn’t want to feel like a prisoner for three days.
But it was also a pain for the race kit claiming staff because each runner would come up with a story about why they couldn’t have the band attached to their wrist.
Truth be told, I didn’t want it on my wrist, too, because while I didn’t have a soiree to attend which would have made the wristband a socially suicidal accessory had I been decked out in a gown, I feared the band would not survive three days of showers and housework.
But I accepted it without question when told it was for the integrity of the race.
In the days that ensued, however, runners proudly posted on social media how they found reasons to avoid having the band attached to their wrists or how they found ways to have the band attached to their wrists so they could still take it off.
I get it, really. I get that organizers don’t want anyone registering for a race then having someone else run in their place. They want to stop the selling of race kits that is so rampant pre-race.
But the secondary market exists not necessarily for dubious reasons. Schedules change, emergencies occur, injuries happen. There are legitimate reasons why some registered runners cannot run on race day. They only seek to recoup their registration fees.
Runners were supposed to personally pick up their race kits. So, in theory, attaching the wristband on the person picking it up (which required identification) ensured the registrant would be the runner.
But this rule was understandably waived for out-of-towners who had flights arriving after 6 p.m. the night before the race. And there were so many others who found reasons not to have the bands attached to their wrists. On race day, no one checked our wristbands. I saw runners who ran without them.
So how did these wristbands preserve the integrity of the race? When the rules were not uniformly enforced or at all, enforced or applied to all?
And what about the rule that only those who run under their registered race bibs are eligible for a podium finish? I heard this rule was broken too.
I like rules. But even I don’t make rules I cannot enforce.
Yes, we should keep the integrity of the race. So, why not open a competitive wave with zero tolerance for podium finishers with integrity breaches. The rest of us just want to have a good time. So, give us a break. We just want to cross the finish line.