To Pirate or Not To Pirate

This topic is something that I’ve seen discussed in numerous magazines, and even more blogs. It’s something that I’m certain everyone has thought about in one form or another. It’s something that I usually blow off and think of no big deal but lately… lately it’s been bugging me more than I thought it would.

To pirate a race… or to NOT pirate a race. That is ultimately the questions.I picked up a friend of mine yesterday to go to the Farmer’s Market to grab fresh fruits and veggies. We usually go on the Mondays after I get my pay check, and we take this moment to chat and catch up and laugh and do things that girlfriends do when they hardly see each other. On the drive, I asked about the Vestcor Bridges Run that I was planning on doing but thanks to Felix the Alien Cyst was not able to. She told me that one of our mutual friends had run it as well… as a pirate.

Now to be fair, I know plenty of people who have pirated races. I know that this mutual friend has done it plenty of times. But after reading an article in Runner’s World magazine about how one of the editors had pirated just a portion of a race that was going on… I’m not sure it’s right. Sure, if you don’t take any of the aid at the aid stations, and you make sure to stay out of the way of the people around who actually paid for the race then sure. I can understand it. If it were just you and no one else, then sure I could understand it.

But at the same time, I don’t.

See, here’s the thing. I personally would NEVER pirate a race if I couldn’t afford to pay for it. I wouldn’t, and haven’t, accepted a medal if I didn’t earn it outright. I have this thing about being ‘open and honest’ and I just can’t do that. I know plenty of people who do, and that’s their thing, but I never would. I can’t. I don’t have it in me to do it. People have paid and trained for the races, just like I have for my races. And I almost feel like pirating a race takes something away from it for them, whether they know that I am pirating or not. I feel like the joy they are feeling about finishing would be significantly diminished.

I’ve also heard this about comp entries, which I get because the station is a sponsor for a significant amount of races that I run. I feel like that is different. The companies give things to the companies, whether it be air time or products to give away, and in turn race entries are given. I promote the races on my shows, our weather team promotes them in their nightly weather forecasts, it’s something that is give and take.

But I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts on pirating races? What about using a comp entry? Tell me what your thoughts are and let’s have an open discussion about it.

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7 thoughts on “To Pirate or Not To Pirate

  1. Jules (@mymomsawhackjob) says:

    I could not do it and although I am sure it is done, I dont know anyone that has done it. Races are expensive and honestly very easy to pirate, but Karma is a bitch and well, I am not messing with her. I think if you are given a complimentary entry that is different, you did not take something that was not intended for you. It is a gift.

  2. CJV says:

    Comp entries are dramatically different than pirated entries because the comp’ed entries are at least planned for by the race/event planners. Pirates are not planned for and not accounted for, which means they can lead to over-crowding if the race was already full to begin with. The over-crowding then leads to poorer performance for everybody and possibly even injuries. Even if the pirates don’t use any of the aid stations, don’t claim the medal at the finish, they’re still going to take up space. If the race isn’t full then I guess nobody would notice, unless so many people pirate it that it ends up being over-crowded anyway – again, pirates open the box to a myriad of unknown variables that event planners try to control for the sake of public safety and enjoyment. So, if it were me, I would say no to pirating.

    Of course, my ‘no pirating’ stance could be slightly influenced by the fact that I recently completed a race and did not receive a medal for it because so many people pirated it that they ran out of medals for those who paid through the nose to legitimately participate. The company sent my medal to me in the mail along with an extensive apology, but I left the race empty handed and frustrated that day. It bears considering that if enough people pirate races and take the medals that eventually it’s going to result in higher registration fees to cover the additional medals that will be needed to make sure all of the legitimate runners get theirs. I know you said that you wouldn’t take the medals, but there are plenty others out there that do and they’re going to end up costing all of us more $$ eventually. And if enough people start pirating the races that are full, resulting in over-crowding, then eventually the race companies will start lowering the cap for registered participants just so they can leave room for the pirates. It sounds far fetched, but it’s something to consider.

    Bottom line is this….race companies have rules and regulations for a reason. Registrations are part of those rules and regs. Pirates toss all of that out the window and open the door for a mountain of negative possibilities.

  3. Jennifer LE (@runningwithpugs) says:

    I’m a bit of a stickler, so no. I don’t think pirating is right. I can see if you are waiting for a friend or loved one to finish a race and you see them and they are struggling, to hop in there (if possible) to run a few minutes with them to help them out, but other than that, no thank you.

    I don’t understand the sense of entitlement that would cause someone to think that it’s ok to take on a run for what they did not pay or register.

  4. Stacey @ Starpulp says:

    I hate to be debbie downer, but I”m against “running rogue” as well. Doesn’t mean I haven’t done it though. My main thoughts are that a) it’s typically for a charity, so you’re technically stealing money from them.. (though stealing seems kinda harsh in this instance) and b) if you were to fall and get hurt for whatever reason, the medical person on staff for the race would help you.. so even though you’re not using tangible services.. just by being there, you’re using the race services.

  5. Kristen says:

    As a newbie who has not yet run a race, I didn’t even know this existed. I don’t think I could do it. To make a conscious decision to pirate a race is wrong, however like Jennifer said if a loved one is struggling you can jump in a run with them for a little while. Just my two cents.

  6. Jade Newman (toosassyforyou) says:

    I didn’t even know that was a thing! I wouldn’t even know how to go about it, just awkwardly start running with everyone and try to not look guilty? I would feel too bad to even have fun in the race. I also agree that it takes something away from everyone else who pays. Pirating is probably not a good idea.

  7. juli says:

    I would not because of safety. If you have a number, someone is making SURE you get through the race. I run with the kids and husband and would never let my kids (ages 11 and 12) run without a number. I just wrote a piece about staying behind with a kid who was clearly not registered, but running alone. He was 10 and in serious danger of dehydration and getting lost in the crowds of people. TWO of their other kids were still no where to be found 1.5 hours into the 5K… the paramedic services were sent after them, services that may have been needed for actual runners.

    That said, my first 10k in Sept is comp-ed. I won the entry, and have no issue with using the services or accepting the medal because it’s a race I would have paid for anyway (and am, in the form of my husband and two kids).

    And… that’s my two cents.

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