You can still run the Boston Marathon -- for a price
Numbers for the race are being sold online, and the event's organizers can't really do much about it.
Well cheer up, lazy: The free market can make your marathon dream come true.
Forget about all those months of training or about even attempting a light jog from Hopkinton to Copley Square. According to Boston Magazine, all you need to get a bib to race in this year's marathon is a few hundred dollars and some Internet access.
On Tuesday, the magazine noted that marathon bibs could still be found on Craigslist and eBay (EBAY) a week before the April 15 event. Granted, supplies immediately dried up after the magazine ratted out all the sellers, but bib numbers that were selling for $300 to $350 are still in demand among desperate runners.
For marathon procrastinators and Boston-area poseurs, the secondary market has been a scoundrel's refuge. While actual marathon runners wear their Adidas-made qualifying jackets around the Common and Esplanade for weeks afterwards as badges honoring their dedication and athletic achievement, folks who spent Marathon Monday scarfing leftover runners' pizza at the Crossroads Pub can wear those same jackets after a quick trip to eBay.
Marathon organizers are well aware that a few race numbers end up being resold -- either because of injury, emergency or outright greed -- and they monitor bib sales online. But they can't do much about it, either, as the original bib-holder goes into the event's official training book and entitles the number to a spot in the race.
Even if bibs can't be found online, they can fetch a much larger fee from charitable organizations that need the cash. Runners looking to raise funds for charity can get more lenient qualifying times and delayed starting positions as long as they raise $4,000 or so and complete their training. Last year, Boston Magazine said nonqualifiers were offering $3,000 for numbers, and charitable organizations were letting numbers go to anyone who could raise $4,000 in time for the race.
The Boston Athletic Association insists that buying those numbers secondhand is a risky proposition that leaves the association with little information about a runner should he or she get injured. But it's not necessarily a huge financial blow for the BAA or the race itself.
Of the roughly $7 million it costs to put on the Boston Marathon each year, 70% (or about $5 million) comes directly from sponsors. While that's potentially troubling during economic slumps, the BAA has locked down key sponsor Adidas through 2023, and it has retained its featured sponsor, Manulife Financial's (MFC) John Hancock, through 2024. Tack on contributions from Samuel Adams brewer Boston Beer Co. (SAM), Coca-Cola's (KO) Gatorade, Nissan (NSANY), AT&T (T), JetBlue (JBLU) and Nestlé's (NSRGY) Poland Spring and PowerBar, and you have a sporting event as financially sound as anything at Fenway.
Only here, the items being resold online actually get you into the action.
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