Is Reselling Bibs Wrong?


A few weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal published an article on the practice of reselling bibs for marathons and triathlons. It had some interesting points and got a lot of us in the industry talking about an issue that seems to be a growing concern. The article cited Running USA, illustrating the rise in participation in endurance events—an incredible coup for the sport, but challenging nonetheless as our events seek to adapt to the responsibilities that come with more athletes.

Is it wrong to allow participants to resell or transfer their bibs? It depends. Here is our summary of both sides:


  1. Better customer service. Keeping your participants happy is clearly a top priority and times are a-changin’. Entry fees are increasing: What once cost $20 now costs $50 (or much more) and that’s a lot of money. If someone is injured, or simply has a twist of fate that keeps them from your start line, it’s not easy—or, frankly, practical—for them to simply write off that $50. If you provide them with an option to transfer or resell their bib, you’ll earn their loyalty and good will.
  1. Additional revenue channel. Charging a fee to resell or transfer bibs allows you to minimally cover admin costs and possibly add more operational revenue. Plus, it is a fee that will be expected and accepted by participants—they are willing to pay a few bucks for the benefit of putting their bib to good use.
  1. Increased control. Let’s face it, participants will do it regardless of whether you condone it or not. Ticket reselling has been around forever and endurance events are now just as prone to this as rock bands. As a race director, if you offer an easy way to resell or transfer bibs through your race registration services, participants will take it and you’ll be able to control how it’s done, ensuring you’re tracking exactly who’s on your course on race day.


  1. More admin work. For events that are powered by volunteers, the additional paperwork that comes with transferring bibs can be overwhelming. Some races simply don’t have the manpower to manage it.
  1. Oversold participation. Similar to airlines, many events oversell entries. A certain percentage of participants consistently no-show, and race directors factor that into the number of entries they release and sell. If a transfer/resell policy is incorporated into an event, it could possibly results in an oversold event.
  1. Dilution of field. For races with strict time standard, such as the Boston Marathon, reselling or transferring bibs is simply not possible. The athlete who earned that qualification time, that year, is the only person who should be able to compete with that bib. 

The Win-Win Solution

One way event directors and online race registration companies have been able to meet participant expectations without impacting their own budgets or operations is to offer race insurance. During registration, participants can add this to their entry fee and a third-party company acts as middleman. Most race insurance policies are generous and cover things like injuries, pregnancies, job relocations, etc. If a bib cannot be used, the event retains the entry fee and the participant it fully refunded. And everyone goes home happy.

Options for ChronoTrack Events
ChronoTrack offers race directors several options, depending on how you want to handle reselling and transferring bibs. Our race registration software allows you to offer athletes the option to:

  • Defer an entry to the following year by giving them a coupon code valid for the next event
  • Transfer an entry to another person would include a small fee charged to the athlete. The athlete would have to go through the deferral process and then give the Deferral Code to the athlete they are switching their registration to. That person can then use the Deferral Code to enter for the same event.
  • Switch distances or registration categories
  • Purchase TransAmerica race insurance and get a refunded entry fee

So, what do you think? Is reselling and transferring bibs good or bad for events? What do you think are the pros and cons? Comment below and share your thoughts on this topic.

To learn more about ChronoTrack, contact us.