BAA Bans Bandits From Running In Boston Marathon, Terrorists Win


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At most marathons, unregistered runners — known as bandits — are considered freeloaders preying on the good will of race organizers and official entrants.

Yet the Boston Marathon has long handled bandits with a light touch, turning a frowned-upon practice into a back-of-the-pack tradition.


But with tightened security for this year’s race, organizers have warned bandits they will not be allowed, and could be removed from the course.

The Marathon’s historic allure, combined with its rigorous qualifying times, has made it a magnet for bandits, observers say. While smaller marathons offer easy entry, they lack Boston’s prestige.

Boston and bandits have “gone hand in hand,” said Jack Fultz, a former marathon winner and the training adviser for the Dana-Farber marathon team. Before the Boston Athletic Association created the charity program in the late 1980s, thousands of people ran as bandits, knowing they would never qualify, Fultz said.

“There was no other way in,” he said.


The number of bandits has since declined, and the BAA has generally let them be. But this year, new security measures will make it far more difficult for unregistered runners, and Fultz said they won’t be missed.

“They will be the only ones who will notice the difference,” he said. “They were never really part of the race.”


Bandits are generally looked down upon in the running community. A spokeswoman for USA Track & Field, the governing body for distance running, likened the practice to “jumping a turnstyle or sneaking into a ballgame or a movie theater.”

“Entry fees from runners help cover logistical costs from road closures to police assistance, on-course hydration stations, and race planning,” said Jill M. Geer, chief public affairs officer for USA Track & Field. “Race bibs worn by official entrants also enable runners to be easily identified — a concern of obvious import to Boston in particular.”


Yet other runners say they are undeterred by the new restrictions. Lucas Suh, 31, said he has run as a bandit at four other Marathons, and has no plans to stop now.

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “If they pull me they pull me.”

With a best time of 4:20, Suh cannot qualify for the race, but said he loves the thrill of running it.


Freaking downer man. Look, I totally get the whole increased security thing this year, and the last thing I’d wanna do is question it. But, TurtleBoy Sports isn’t the fastest growing blog in New England because we piss out lukewarm takes, so on that note, this is bullshit.

Guess who benefits from keeping bandits out of the Boston Marathon? The terrorists. Those two morons wanted to scare the shit out of us. They wanted us to live in fear and change everything we do. Guess what? They just won with this stupid rule.


The slogan of the day today was of course, “Boston Strong.” Our feelings on this slogan are well documented. It was a rallying point that had value for a couple days. Then it just became a new way to sell t-shirts. Every yahoo from Randolph to Plympton to Hamilton, who sat in their safe homes, miles and miles from the explosions, uses this catch phrase in a fruitless attempt to belong.

I grew pretty tired about hearing how “strong” we all were from April 15-19, 2013. I wasn’t strong. I was riding a magical turtle in the safe confines of Worcester. No one gives a shit about us enough to bomb us. Newsflash – the only “strong” people were, 1) the victims and their families, 2) the first responders, 3) anyone who lived in Watertown on April 18-19. That’s it. The rest of us were just spectators.


My question is, how “Boston Strong” are we if we’re threatened by the site of 140 pound joggers in t-shirts, running shoes, and short shorts? What are these people possibly gonna do? Lug a giant bomb with them all the way to Boston? Where are they gonna hide their bomb? Are they just gonna hope the 100,000 people they pass along the way don’t notice they’re carrying a weapon of mass destruction?

I’m also sick of the rhetoric about how amazing we are as Bostonians to recover from this senseless disaster. Like we’re some magical freaking people or something. We’re “Boston Strong.” We’re a special bunch. Right. So if this happened in Indianapolis or Houston, the people there would just cower in their bunkers, throw up their white flags, and surrender to the bad guys? Apparently Boston is the only city in America that isn’t part of France.

Bandits are a Boston Marathon tradition like none other. Thousands literally run every year. In Hopkinton there is even a designated area where the bandits wait together. They have their own corral too, which obviously goes last. Before they’re finally released onto the course, they are given the pre-race speech by some BAA stooge about not getting in the way of the registered runners. After that, it’s every man for themselves, and we’ll see ya at Copley Square.


The fact of the matter is that the Boston Marathon is one of the most selective races in the world, but it’s easily the most prestigious and nostalgic marathon that has ever existed. Fuck the Masters – the Boston Marathon is a tradition like none other. So it’s just not humanly possible for your average Masshole to qualify. Men aged 18-39 have to run around 3 hours (7 minute mile pace). And to qualify you have to have run ANOTHER marathon in that time. Do you understand what an accomplishment it is to just run ONE of these marathons? Never mind run a time fast enough to earn you the right to run ANOTHER marathon.

Take me for instance. When I’m not riding my magical turtle I can run under 17 minutes in 5k. But I can’t come close to getting under 3 hours in the marathon. Not by a long shot. My only option in Boston, despite growing up and dreaming about running this race one day my entire life, is to run as a bandit. Now that option is gone.

Why does this matter? Because I’m a local, God dammit. We should have some type of priority over all these carpetbaggers. People run this race from all around the nation and the world. The best of the best show up. How these people have the time to train and get this good is beyond me.

But your average Joe Schmo from Quincy dreams of just FINISHING the race. He doesn’t wanna smash any records or win any awards. He just wants to be a part of the greatest day of the year in Massachusetts. He wants to feel the adrenaline running through his body as thousands and thousands of strangers cheer him on through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston.



He wants to prove to himself that no obstacle in life is insurmountable. So he trained all through the harsh New England winter. He built his long run up from five miles, adding two miles on every other Sunday, until he was up to 25. He felt the pain of having to wake up on Monday and go to work, although his legs were exhausted and frail. He did all of that to prove that the mind can overcome the body, even when it’s screaming, “STOP, I wanna lie on the couch and get fat.”

Ya see, it’s not the guys from California and Kenya who can run this race in 2:20 that make this such an authentic race. It’s the people from the community who are doing it to prove to themselves that they are capable of unheralded greatness. They are running through their backyards, and want to show the world that this race still belongs to Boston. The rest of the runners are just guests.


And hey Jack Fultz, you just won the dooshnozzle of the week award. Bandits were “never really a part of the race”? Go tell that to the thousands of people every year who run as bandits. Sorry we can’t all be God damn marathon champions like you. Sorry we all can’t run the elite times necessary to qualify. You must feel quite accomplished on your high horse up there.

People like him are the worst. For the most part bandits are welcomed with open arms. The volunteers along the way (who are the unheralded stars of the race), never ask for their bib numbers when they give them water and gatorade along the way. The screaming babes in Wellesley don’t stop screaming when a bandit runs through. The people of Newton don’t stop pulling you up heartbreak hill because you don’t have a number on your chest.

Boston Herald Media 130415bostonmarathon0304-001.r

So you’re wrong Jack. Bandits have always been a part of the race. They are the heart and soul of the race. They are the locals, who are running the race to raise money for a charity that the BAA didn’t pre-approve of. They didn’t want to commit to raising $5,000 by putting their credit card down and paying whatever they couldn’t raise. They didn’t wanna raise $5,000 for the Red Cross so they could pay their CEO another bonus on top of their million dollar salary and benefits. They didn’t want 39 cents of every dollar they raised to actually go to charity.

As for his comparison to sneaking into a movie theater, that’s actually pretty accurate. And if you do sneak into a movie theater without paying, good for you. It’s not stealing if you had no intention of paying in the first place. The movie theater and Miramax don’t lose any money whether or not you sneak in or stay at home. It’s not like the movie is sold out and you’re taking someone else’s seat. Same thing with the marathon – it’s not like they’re gonna run out of gatorade and Power Gel. They have BOXES of that stuff left over. So quit trying to make it seem like bandits are some sort of welfare leeches moron.

If it’s the fact that they’re freeloading which you object to, then take down their information after the race and bill them the $200 entry fee. They’d all gladly have paid it in the first place, if they were fast enough to qualify. But you wouldn’t do that, because it has NOTHING to do with money. It has to do with the fact that you’re an elitist running snob, who enjoys the fact that you’ve created this country club mentality for a race. The bandits aren’t as fast as you are, so you’re disgusted you’re even sharing pavement with them. You want these landless serfs out of your race, so the sophisticated bourgeoisie of the running world can have their day in the sun.

Well you elitists may have won this round, but the bandits will be back. It’s their race, not yours.

Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.

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31 Comment(s)
  • October 6, 2014 at 2:42 am

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  • Larry
    April 26, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I’m glad all the races you do have boxes of stuff left over. I’m sorry to inform you that is not always true. I have done multiple races in which there was no water left when I got there. Maybe more was on the way, but the only thing that mattered at that moment was that I had miles to go with no support. Should race directors now have to solicit yet more materials, volunteers, and even medical support for numbers beyond those who sign up?

    You had no choice but to bandit? You are not in control of your own choices? I have to tell you that your article came across as “CEOs may too much money so my cheating is ok”. Apparently we have a different definition of “fairness”.

  • john
    April 26, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    rock on bro

  • April 26, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Far worse than what these kids allegedly did is the fear mongering and public shaming that is going on.

    These young adults/kids are getting death threats now. Ask yourselves if your expression of outrage is feeding this lynch mob. If this was a concern of authorities wouldn’t the police, courts (if there has been a crime) and race organizers handle it? Are your actions forcing them to?

    What happened to the presumption of innocence? And why is there a constant drumbeat to remove essential privileges and liberties so that we can feel safer.

    Please realize that your actions can contribute to weaponizing social media and could very well end the lives of these athletes. Where does it end? Do they deserve death? To lose their jobs? Children? What is your pound of flesh?

    The power of the internet mob is a new thing for many. Be careful what you sign up for.

    I appreciate the counter point this author adds to the discussion.

  • Wha???
    April 26, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Turtelboy, you sir, are an idiot! ” For the most part bandits are welcomed with open arms” Where the **** do you get this? I think you may be thinking that the nice people who volunteer are just as happy to help out someone who is running as a bandit. They are just good people, not ‘welcoming’ those people. So, from what you say, if you wanna play in the Masters, you just show up and tee off? And you are calling out this Jon Gugala cat? You are stupid, and uneducated about endurance sports. If a race director has a capacity to safely take care of 300 people and 3,000 people show up, don’t ya think that there may be some compromise to the event? And who does not end up getting the support they need, maybe someone who did the work and paid the price (literal & figuratively) because some butthole wanted to run a marathon and never did more than 8-10 and ends up passing out on the course, taking resources (EMTs, etc) away from someone who has a serious problem who did it the right way? You sir, need to learn a lot more about this thing called marathon. Boston may be your home, but that does not entitle you to anything in our sport. Try showing up at the Ironman World Championships in Kona and doing that! Put your energy into something else, dude. Bandits are not welcomed with open arms.They compromise the integrity of the race.

  • Danielle
    April 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    The only people who think bandit running is a tradition are those that have done it. It’s irresponsible resource mooching.

    And if you can’t qualify, or can’t get into a charity that will allow you to run, you do have a choice–don’t run. If you really want to run a marathon, run one of the hundreds around the country you can freely enter. If you really want to run Boston, put a little more effort into finding a charity team that will take you.

    By the way, I really have to think you’re not even trying. I don’t know a single person that has tried to run Boston and wasn’t able to find a charity to run with. I’ve never run Boston myself, but a few years back when I was still running, I had friends offer me spots in their charity teams year after year, since they had many openings.

  • Audrey
    April 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Fair points. But what these people did rubs me the wrong way for a few reasons. Don’t you think that they should have owned up to being bandits, and started at the back of the pack, rather than hijack someone else’s bib? I’m one of those people who had to run 5 marathons and shave 30 minutes off my time before I finally qualified for Boston – something I worked super hard for while juggling a full-time job as an attorney while practically single parenting a toddler while my husband was away. I’d frankly be pissed if someone took my bib, a corral space, and littered my race photos. Seems like if they knew they were running as bandits, they should have honored the back-of-the-pack bandit tradition as you’ve described it. Or if that was too hard this year, then why not volunteer and be part of the race that way? I’ve done water stops at marathons and find that experience special and rewarding. Oh and at least those guys could have qualified – former BC XC runners have certainly got the chops.

  • Chillgo
    April 25, 2014 at 10:59 am


    • slowtwitch13
      April 25, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Marathons are massive events, that cost lots of money to put on. What is it about these bandits that makes them feel entitled to run the race for free?

      Even worse, they blog about the HORROR of being expected to run qualifying times, and pay to attend an event that happens in their own city.

      I would never expect to attend a football game, concert festival, or any other large production for free. But races? God forbid these little leeches train for a qualifier and pay their entry fees like everyone else…

  • Kyrsten
    April 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    It’s a cop out to go after charities because of a few bad press releases for certain organizations. I can think of countless charities that have slots in the marathon that do a hellofa lot of good that don’t have fat cat CEOs: think Teddy Bruschi, Joe Andruzzi, Dick and Rick Hoyt’s team (go ahead and bust on these guys. I freaking triple dog dare you. They are legends.) I stand by my statement: bandits are lazy, self-righteous turds who waste public service resources like the police and first responders who protect their lazy asses.

  • Kyrsten
    April 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Turtle boy – you know I love you like a crazy cousin man. I almost always agree with your hot takes and love what you’re doing out there in that filthy fountain in Wistah (said with love). But I must respectively disagree this time. Bandits are resource moochers and don’t want to put in the time to fundraise, plain and simple. Not all approved charities have a 39 cent track record and you know it. C’mon man, do a little homework. We hometowners who will never qualify are giving back to our communities by fundraising. With very little effort. Just throw up a website and sling some do gooding. Not unlike TBS. Show the charity runners some love and don’t glorify the lazy turds who think they’re above raising money for kids with cancer.

    • Joey G
      April 16, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      How many of these charities are good charities that don’t spend millions every year on CEO salaries, ridiculous amounts of overhead, and my personal favorite, litigation? American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, the Red Cross, the American Heart Association… it is criminal how much money they raise that does not go to “kids with cancer” or anyone else for whom the charity is presumably raising money.

    • April 16, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      Thanks for being the first person to “respectfully” disagree with me in the comments. I tried to apply to raise money for a charity one year and had my offer rejected by the giant corporations that are Susan-Komen, the Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society. I offered to raise the minimum $4,000, and that wasn’t enough for them. So I had no choice but to bandit it. And like I said in the blog, there is no shortage of resources along the course. They never run out of food, water, or gatorade. Ever.

      • Kyrsten
        April 17, 2014 at 9:09 pm

        TB- ping me anytime offline. I’ll get you a bib with a number of good charities that are local and no BS. Peace, bro.

      • BostonQualified
        April 25, 2014 at 10:01 am

        you had no choice but to bandit it? You could, I dunno….train for it and qualify. I can’t run a sub-17 5k like you, but have qualified for, paid, entered & ran Boston. If you can run a sub-17, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to spend the time to train for and qualify for Boston. You speak seemingly passionately about the marathon and how badly you want to run in it – if this is the case why not put in the time/effort like the rest of us honest marathoners who strive to actually qualify for Boston as THE goal when you first aiming for it.

        So rather than bitch about some corporation not caring about your attempt to raise some money, go hit the pavement instead and do some real marathon training. You should be able to run sub 2:50 with that kind of 5k time, and surely a sub-3. I always viewed the charity avenue as more for those not gifted with the speed/endurance/body type/etc needed, but you’ve made me realize that it’s also for those just too lazy to put in the time to do some real training.

        It’s not just the race that you’re degrading by being a bandit, it’s the runners who actually worked their asses off while striving to qualify for the race. Anyone can hop into a race and run it as a bandit. It takes some real heart and effort to qualify for and enter it as a legitimate runner.

      • Jay
        April 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

        Never knew the Boston Marathon was so hard to get into and so uptight. Being a SF Bay Area guy, I’m more used to the Bay to Breakers. No bib?, hell, you don’t even have to wear clothes. But it is a great community event. I understand having the elite part of the marathon, but why can’t the bandits bring up the rear? And, as you say, I’m sure that most would be willing to pay a fee. Just leave the clock running at the end so I can take a selfie.

        • Hal H
          April 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm

          No, real runners hate bandits at B2B as well; their registration fees are paying for the services needed for the drunken shitshow bandit parade of dumb fucking costumed frat boys from the peninsula in the back. I’ve ran B2B naked; I paid to do so. So should you.

      • Joe K
        April 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

        TB I agree on your bandit take, it’s a great tradition and another example of people getting too serious and ruining a great thing. The whole world has gotten too serious these days.

        However, your comment on the 39 cents on the dollar for Red Cross is inaccurate and I would love if you changed it because posting inaccurate statements about charities inefficiencies has a real impact on charitable contributions by discouraging contributions to Red Cross and charities in general. As I’m sure you agree judging by your article and comments charitable contributions are very important and shouldn’t be discouraged.

        The article you posted (snopes) actually clarifies that the efficiency of Red Cross is 92% not 39%.

        Anyway good article, would just appreciate a clarification

      • Gloria
        April 26, 2014 at 1:15 am

        You “had no choice but to bandit it” What about train harder? Or find another marathon?

  • Blong
    April 16, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Worse than the bandits being banned… didn’t they ban costumes being worn by the runners? The various gorillas, the guy who wore the North Church hat, the solo cups pictured above, the bananas… that’s what I’ll miss the most.

  • Dave P
    April 16, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Let no evil deed go un-merchandised. “Boston Strong!”, “9-11 Never Forget”, “Support the Victims of the University Lodge Vomit Incident”.

    I was discussing this topic with a guy from California last week, and some lady overheard the conversation and said that 7-minute pace wasn’t that hard. I was like, “Running 26 7-minute miles in a row isn’t hard? Then I must be morbidly unfit.”

    • Joey G
      April 16, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Do you understand how much damage was done and how many people were affected by the University Lodge Vomit Incident??? They even had to remove the Zenith televisions from those rooms because they were too traumatized to live on. Poor Consuela y Pilar were in the room for hours with mops. The victims were numerous, and those affected will be traumatized forever. Also, I almost forgot 9-11… luckily there was a tribute to remind me to remember 9-11.

    • Blong
      April 16, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      I just spit my water all over my keyboard and monitor reading this. “Support the Victims of the University Lodge Vomit Incident”…. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH

  • April 16, 2014 at 9:08 am

    But the bombers weren’t bandits…makes more sense (and by that I mean no sense) to ban the crowds,

  • Joey G
    April 16, 2014 at 8:44 am

    God willing, this will be the last year we have to hear about this bandit bad and God, Moses, Allah, Vishnu, and Satan willing, we will never ever hear the phrase “Boston Strong” again.

    • Joey G
      April 16, 2014 at 8:45 am

      *bandit ban

  • April 16, 2014 at 2:19 am

    You’re going to catch a lot of flak for the blog turtleboy.

    You’re correct though. When we are FORCED to sacrifice the things we enjoy for the most minimal of security is when the terrorists have won. When the 20 block radius of Watertown became treated like a warzone we have lost When you are forced to give up your daily life routine the terrorists have won. When your government is spending trillions of your taxpayer dollars on occupations of other countries, the terrorists have won. When their names have become infamous, the terrorists have won.

    People act like it isn’t a big deal saying “it doesn’t effect me” but when they have something taken from them which they enjoy their complaints will fall on deaf ears.

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