The marathon bandit

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You marathoners take your world seriously.

Peter Sagal, host of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on many of these public radio stations, acknowledged in an article for Runner’s World, that he “banditted” the Chicago marathon last week.


I know it’s wrong. But I brought my own bottle of sports drink and and packet of chews, started at mile five, so I didn’t gum up the start, and exited at mile 25, so as not to gum up the finish or claim any unpaid-for cookies, bananas, or medals. True, I did refill the bottle at the aid stations — it was a hot day! – but didn’t otherwise use any resources the legit runners paid for. And I did engage in helpful badinage with other runners and waved to the crowd in a charming way, so maybe I earned it. But I will be happy to send a check for the Gatorade to the Bank of America, if so requested.

“Banditting” is running a race — a marathon in this case — without registering. Never mind that the piece really wasn’t about running on city streets at the same time 45,000 others (who paid) were. Banditting is what the people in the comments section picked up on and made the issue du jour.


Next time I’m in the Windy City, I will head straight for the Chase Auditorium during a taping of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” and sneak in five minutes after taping begins. If I slip back out before the guest panelists make their final predictions, that should be kosher, right? Like, you wouldn’t actually charge me for a ticket, would you?

The Chicago Marathon limits the number of runners it allows to 45,000. It also won’t let anyone in who hasn’t run a marathon in under six-and-a-half hours.

But banditting is, apparently, a great way to start a flame war on sites like Runners World, as this 2008 exchange shows.


The profile of a Bandit is simple, they are the same people that cheat on taxes, steal items in stores, cheat on tests, file for bankruptcy, etc. We can make excuses all day and some how make them into some kind of heros, but in the end, they are low lifes that never pay there own way through life and are always making excuses for their shortcomings.

To which a person from Hopkinton, where the Boston Marathon starts, reminded us that it’s just a street


Personally I think it will be mighty funny if a pirate will win the Boston marathon (not that it is very likely to happen), and as a taxpayer supporting this marathon, would expect him (or her) to cross the finish line, so me and other tax payers will have something to talk about.

All of which recalls one of the original marathon bandits (before they got all corporate). Katherine Switzer didn’t register to run in the Boston Marathon in 1967. So the marathon goons pushed her out of the race.

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Of course, Switzer couldn’t register to run because women weren’t allowed to run down the streets of Hopkinton at the same time the Boston marathon was being held.

They sure took it seriously back then.