NYRR introduces brand new way to annoy and inconvenience its customers

I try not to rag on NYRR excessively, saving my screeds for when they’re truly justified. Here’s one that seems justified enough.

This was posted on the New York Harriers’ message board yesterday, quoting (presumably) from NYRR materials for participants in this weekend’s NYC Half Marathon.

“A participant wristband will be put on you when you get your bib at the expo. You must wear the wristband to enter your starting corral and throughout the race on Sunday. If you break or lose your wristband before the race, you must return to the expo for a new one, and your name will be recorded in our entrant database as having received a second one. If you are not wearing a wristband when you finish the race, you won’t be given a finisher medal and won’t be eligible for post-race amenities.”

Really? I have to wear a bracelet (and a flimsy one, by the sounds of it) for three days in order to be allowed to run in a race that I’ve paid the better part of $100 for? Why not just institute electronic tracking ankle bracelets like the ones they put on convicted mob bosses? Or (Jonathan’s idea), how about requiring that I wear the shoes I plan to race in to the expo for a special chip that requires I keep the shoes on (even in the shower and in bed) until I’m done with the race? How about a chip that serves as a “third eye,” implanted in my forehead and read by a bioscanner?

What shenanigans are they trying to prevent? Bib borrowing? Who gives a shit? Why does NYRR give a shit?

If they insist on playing playground monitor to racers, then why not do what every toothless, imbecilic carnival ride worker in the world knows to be much more efficient? Just use a special stamp with ink that takes at least four days to wear off. Imagine the money they’ll save on special bracelets, dealing with angry return expo visitors, and setting up and maintaining computerized tracking systems.

Sometimes I think NYRR wants its constituents to dislike them.

28 Responses

  1. The wristband doesn’t bother me by itself — that was SOP when I was horse-showing. You wore it for a few days, and then cut it off.

    (they were used at the larger horse shows, both so that the people showing didn’t have to pay to get in, and also so that it was easy to keep people out of the stabling area who didn’t belong there).

    I don’t get why you need it here if you also have a bib.

    • If I hear that they didn’t bother enforcing corral assignments in this race (which they did not a few weeks ago), then my head is going to explode.

  2. I am super annoyed by this too and almost wrote a post about it myself. (I’m glad I waited, though, because you said just about exactly what I was planning on and I didn’t have to actually write it.) Since I still feel like complaining some… NYRR is starting to remind me of an airline — they nitpick you to death with little rules, etc. and turn something that should be fun (running a race, in this case, not flying) into a chore. Further, all the little hoops they make you jump through don’t really serve much of a purpose. What’s to stop someone from cutting the wristband and taping it? Are they going to check that close? So they’re not actually preventing the bib switching, they’re just annoying the people they over-charged to run this race.

  3. To me it just sounds like they are making it harder to run the race as a bandit, which is a good thing. I can see the annoyance to everyone, but I think their intentions are good.

    Also, for colder races like the Manhattan Half I just ran, it’s hard to enforce corral assignments because people have layers over their bibs (sweaters, etc.). A wristband can be shown to volunteers and officials regardless of what you have on over your bib.

    Good luck on Sunday!

    • I forgot to mention that I don’t live in NYC, I live further north, so there are not many races, only smaller and less-organized races. I do those as often as I can instead of NYRR.

      I guess wristbands are the new price to pay for living/racing in the big apple. :-)

      • I don’t think either argument applies:

        Need for wristband: If I’m wearing a bib, why do I need a wristband in addition to that to prove I’m not a bandit?

        Bibs obscured: When a runner enters a corral, she should be wearing her bib on the outside of whatever she’ll be racing in. If it’s underneath some piece of disposable clothing, then simply lift up the shirt to show the bib upon entry. It’s NYRR’s responsibility to police their corrals, and runners’ responsibility to comply with the corral assignment rules.

        Also, I’m not running this race, but thanks for the good wishes!

  4. This post made me giggle. Glad I am not running NYC Half Marathon.

  5. Chicago gave me 5 (!) HUGE race numbers. The numbers had chips in them so I wasn’t allowed to wrinkle them for flexibility. I had to put one on the front, one on the back…of my race clothes AND my exterior layer. I also had to pin one to my assigned bag. Of course, I also had a D-chip for each shoe too. Silver lining: each # had a beer ticket. I covered a round at Goose Island that night based on this retardation.

  6. I wouldn’t consider a bracelet any worse than a stamp. In fact, I’d RATHER have a bracelet. Wearing a stamp on your hand to work just makes you look like you’re a partygoer, which is not what I want to convey in the workplace, whereas I could hide a bracelet under a long sleeved shirt.

    • It’s totally a wristband you would get at a bar. It is equally bad to a stamp except it’s itchier and keeps poking me. I feel like I am on spring break in college.

  7. And it doesn’t even save Darfur or cure testicular cancer. Oh. Too soon?

    I would guess that it’s some inane amalgamation of security and bib-borrowing, although I’d love to see them implement this at ass o’clock on race day. I imagine it will resemble, if not turn completely into, a clusterfuck. Further proof to me that NYRR is suffering severe growing pains.

  8. I just hope my bracelet doesn’t somehow get ripped off during the race. Making a side dash over to the expo at mile 5 would put a serious dent in my PR hopes!

  9. Wait…what? Why a bracelet and a bib? Have they been giving out medals to bandits? Have bandits been sneaking off with food for participants? I’m just so…confused.

    Interestingly, I had a bracelet I wore at Chicago to get into a special tent that had extra bathrooms with no line. (Heads up since you’re doing Chicago this year: if you’ve got a BOA card, take advantage of this! Just make sure you drop your stuff off at baggage first or risk being caught in the clusterfuck that is getting into the corrals) I saw at least 3 guys complain about the fact that they had to wear the bracelet BEFORE the race and MAYBE during if they wanted access to those same special bathrooms. Like, full out complaining with a giant bouncer. I can only imagine how some people are going to react to this after seeing that…

  10. The rule that only the registrant (with photo ID in hand) could pick up their bib, no exceptions, wasn’t enough, huh NYRR? I think the wristband situation is going to backfire and cause an INCREASE in the number of bandits.

    Runners who didn’t “win” the lottery (or should I say lotterIES?) may simply opt to jump in at some point along the course instead of trying to go to the trouble of obtaining a spare bib and wristband. And you know what, if someone can’t run the race and wants to sell their bib, what’s the harm? It’s not causing a strain on resources the way unaccounted-for bandits do. Bibless runners take up space, water, gels (not that I saw much of those last year), and medals. Why would NYRR enact policies that seem to encourage jump-ins instead of bib handoffs?

    I agree with some of the other comments about these hoops. It just doesn’t breed goodwill – and goodwill is something NYRR needs after the lottery (lotteries?) debacle.

  11. I have various idiosyncratic pet peeves. One is that I can’t stand to have to wear things I don’t want to wear around my wrist. They wiggle around when I am running, for one thing. I can barely tolerate a running watch. I was already annoyed at the thought of having to run with a wristband, but until I read this entry, I didn’t realize I would have to keep this thing on starting with the Expo. Honestly, something like this would keep me from registering for the race in the future. (Fortunately for me, I guess, even though I am registered I am not actually running this year, for non-wristband reasons, so I guess my patience will not be tried.)

  12. The bracelet’s obnoxious. At the expo they told me I couldn’t have it unless they put it on my wrist. I’m an old man, and it just doesn’t “go”. I look like I’m trying to flaunt last night’s rave jag.

    The NYC Half has always been a hassle, but now I’m seriously over it. Hope they don’t start doing it for the marathon, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re testing it for.

  13. I’m not sure if this is not obvious, or obviously wrong, but how actually are they tracking each of the 10,000 runners for text and e-amil split time notifications, etc., OTHER than through some radio device in either the bib or, my guess, the wristband? And, if so, why don’t they come clean about it??

    • I think they’re tracking participants’ shopping habits over the weekend. Most of them are out of towners anyway. Let’s really whip up this paranoia, people!

    • NYRR always uses RFID chips to track. They used to use shoe-mounted D-tags, now they’re in the bib. There’s no chip in the ugly, redundant wristband. Except of course the shopping-and-dining-tracker.

    • Split times and notifications I thought were monitored though the timing chip. When you register on the wesbite(if you can get on it /bc it is always overloaded) you enter the runner number. It isn’t a gps device. At least that’s what I read.

  14. I’m not a paranoid, but your reply is not an answer. Actually, I hope that they do have some sort of transponder sewn in: accuracy!

  15. Strange one. To stop people giving their bibs to a friend? Or trying to cheat, Kip Litton style and win or place in age-groups? If so, why not just more intermediate timing mats? Do they check all wristbands at the finish to check for tampering?

  16. So I watched the race from near the finish line yesterday. They had some woman yelling “let me see your bracelet” as runners ran by (this was the 1:15 crowd too!). I’m not really sure what this did as I’m certain there was no way she was catching them on the way to the finish line.

    I think the airline comparison is PERFECT. I mentioned to a friend that it seems like they just don’t know HOW to handle all the growth (ie oh you ‘re unhappy about no auto entry into NYC half, let’s change it on the fly to do 4 of 5 halves and cause those to sell out in a day too!).

    OK, that’s enough Monday morning rage;-)

  17. I ran the NYC Half and must admit that the bracelet did not bother me. I didn’t notice anyone trying to see my bracelet while I raced. It was also a good conversation starter as you noticed people around town with the bracelet on. :-)

    The corrals did seem pretty well organized and some folks were pulled out of my corral (corral 1) and sent back to where they belong.

    Still, the purpose of the bracelet does seem a mystery since if someone was intent on giving up their bib the bracelet cutting and taping scheme mentioned by a previous reader would work just fine. The bib works fine for all the corral and race control needed.

  18. There was some much hatred on facebook about the lottery this year…I wonder if they were concerned that people would make fake Bibs and run(but not be timed). Which, well..who really cares? But the field can hold only so many participants and really, all they care about is the elite runner for this race.

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