Running Pet Peeve #5: Race Bibs

There’s nothing that makes you feel more like a runner than donning your bib number on race day. No matter how old and slow you are, there’s still a part of you that thinks, “You know who else wears a race bib? Usain Bolt. And Molly Huddle. And that Meb guy who won the Boston Marathon. I’m just like them!

Of course, you’re not like them. You’re not even close to being like them. You could NEVER EVER be like them. You know this. But that momentary lapse of logic and reason feels good.

You know what doesn’t feel good? Struggling to pin that stupid bib number to your stupid shirt. Your pre-race time should be spent stretching, relaxing, and thinking about all the food you’re going to allow yourself to eat once the race is over. It should not be spent futzing around with safety pins.

Bib pinning would seem like a simple enough task. But it can be tricky and before you know it, instead of a nicely centered number, you end up with one that’s crooked or bunchy or awkwardly placed halfway between your chest and your belly. So you unpin the damn thing and do it again… and again… and again. Eventually you get it right or, more likely, give up altogether.

Safety Pins: my race day arch enemy
Safety Pins: my race day arch enemy

What upsets me most — besides the personal embarrassment of being bib-challenged — is that it doesn’t have to be this way. It SHOULDN’T be this way. It’s 2015. Technology has changed everything and made the world a simpler, easier place. So why are we still being forced to use 19th century technology to display our stupid bib numbers on race day?

If events can chip track us to the millisecond, give us our splits, and share our real-time race progress with loved ones via the internet, there surely has to be a way to give runners numbers that can be more easily attached to our shirts. Unless there’s some kind of all-powerful safety pin lobby wielding its influence over the race organizers, there’s really no excuse for us to live like luddites.

Temporary adhesives seem like a reasonable answer to this bib pin dilemma. My son has a Fathead of a soccer player on his wall. It can be removed and reapplied. Removed and reapplied. And it doesn’t fall off and it doesn’t destroy the paint. Am I really to believe there’s no similar type of magic adhesive that could be applied to the back of a bib number so that I can stick it on my shirt before the race and remove it afterwards?

Well, I’m not waiting for the powers-that-be to make things right. I’ve taken matters into my own hands and gotten a bib belt. (Okay, my sister took matters into her own hands and bought me one for my birthday.) The belt was immediately put to the test during a 5-mile race I participated in this past Saturday morning. And it passed with flying colors.

The key to a safety pin-less life.
The key to a safety pin-less life.

The belt was firmly secured around my waist with my number (1143, in case you were wondering) nicely placed over my right hip. It created a bit of noise as I ran because of its proximity to my rapidly moving thigh, but that was a small price to pay for the peace of mind I was able to achieve by using the belt. Countless minutes were saved all because I was able to simply and easily secure the number to the belt. There was no struggling with pins and no cursing in disgust. And because I spent my pre-race time calmly preparing myself both physically and mentally, I was able to crush my PR, and finish the race in 39:31.

I know what you’re thinking. Now that I’ve solved my bib-pinning conundrum, I should probably just shut the hell up and move on. Perhaps. But I will not stop complaining until all race runners, no matter their preferred distance, know the peace and tranquility that accompanies a safety pin-free existence.

So come on, running event organizers! If you guys can figure out a way to run races through glowing neon foam, you can certainly find a reasonable alternative to bib number pinning.

3 thoughts on “Running Pet Peeve #5: Race Bibs

  1. Agreed 🙂
    I have a bib belt as well and it was a relieve. No more teeny tiny holes all over my favorite race shirt!
    Recently though I was handed a bib in tough material for which I had to lay down warranty money. I grmbl’d and used safety pins again. Sad start of the race 😉


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