Running in the Shadows

Analyzing Legality and Morality in Marathon “Banditing”

Runners who participate in organized races without officially registering, dubbed “race bandits,” have sparked intense debate in the running community. On one side are those who adamantly assert that banditing is a crime and that bandits are, as their nickname suggests, thieves or outlaws. On the other side are those who maintain that the roads are free for the public’s use and that deciding to bandit is strictly an independent moral decision.

This Note attempts to settle the contentious race bandit debate by first examining the role the law plays in the booming and ultra-lucrative road racing industry and then considering the role the law should play. Specifically, this Note examines theft of services statutes and trespassing statutes in New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, as these states host some of the world’s most popular marathons—the New York City Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and the Boston Marathon. This Note argues that the current legal consequences, if any, of race banditing are too uncertain to be effective and that, as a result, states should amend their existing laws to clearly outlaw race banditing. Ultimately, this Note suggests an approach designed to disincentivize banditing and punish those who choose to engage in it.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.