In the world of runners there is a phenomenon called “bandit running” or “rogue running”. As far as I can tell, the two terms are used interchangeably, but I am not an expert. For fellow runners out there this definition will be unnecessary, but for the rest of you a bandit runner, or rouge runner, is someone who shows up at the race and runs without officially joining the race. The bandit doesn’t sign up, get an official time or bib number, and most importantly they do not pay. Bandit runners just tag along with the mob of sanctioned runners and log as many miles, the same miles, in the festive upbeat race environment. Oftentimes bandit runners do so as a means of completing important training runs for upcoming larger events like marathons, ultra-marathons or iron man competitions.Well up until recently, I had never been a bandit runner. I had never had reason or desire to do so. At past races, I had always signed up, paid my registration fees and followed all the rules. Well I have now joined the ranks of bandit runners across this great nation! I ran a 5K and 10K back to back as a bandit. I have to admit, it was so kinda fun! Here's a brief overview of the whole experience including how I ended up a bandit in the first place.
First of all, a brief explanation of the events leading up to my bandit run. When I quit my job nearly two years ago my husband was convinced we were going to suffer because I had always been the bread winner and he was certain that we would not be okay with just his income. As a result I spent nearly the entire first year at home with the kids living in fear that he would prove me right and we would end up homeless, or worse living in one of our parent's basements. I pinched pennies like they'd never been pinched before and I clipped coupons until my fingers blistered. I felt quilty every time I spent money and I pretty much gave up running. But I was miserable without my hobby. I need to run. So when Hazel was about eight months old, I went out for a run. I felt so much better that I just kept running almost everyday. If I was stressed out, I ran. If I was sad, I ran. If I felt like the world was going to end, I laced up and went for a run. Generally after the kids were sleeping, but I ran. It didn't take too long before I wanted to start running races again so after many heated negotiations, Jeff and I entered into a running agreement. It worked well for the past year or so until we made the decision to build our new house. Well my fears didn't come true the first time, we didn't end up homeless or living in my in-law's basement. But as the costs of our new house add up all of Jeff's financial concerns have resurfaced and to be honest my fears are back too. And this financial concern is what lead to my I recent debut as a race bandit. It was all about saving a few bucks. Jeff joked that it could buy us a door knob. Maybe? I have found that household building supplies are ridiculously priced so probably not.
The race itself was as most races are inspiring and full of energy. Whenever I am left waiting for the start of a race I get a little nervous, but as a bandit runner I was extremely nervous. Once I found my running buddies I settled down significantly and waited for the start of the first race, the 5K. My friends teased me in good taste about banditing the run and joked about me getting arrested. I handled the abuse pretty well. We took off and agreed to take it easy during the race since we still had to run a 10K later that morning. As we ran, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. It was nice weather for a run. I had great tunes on my I-pod and a friend at my side so the race went by quickly and uneventfully. As we approached the finish, I mentally debated how to finish. Should I run through the shoot or around it? Should I do cartwheels or other acrobatic maneuvers? Should I completely avoid the end and cut the run a little short? I couldn't decide. At the last second, I sprinted as fast as I could past many other runners, through the finishing shoot until I ran out the other side of it. I didn't want to get busted at the finish line and get in trouble. I think I was just a pink blur to the timing officials, if they even noticed me at all. For the 10K finish I opted out of the shoot altogether since there were just three of us finishing together and I thought my presence would be more noticeable.
My first bandit experience was perfect. The only thing that could have made it more memorable would have been if I had pulled off my cartwheel, but that would have been risky since I have not done one in years and a pulled muscle or broken bone would be disastrous to my marathon training.