Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Final Word on Bandits

Boston is different. The bandit is a special part of Boston Marathon history. Roberta Gibb, the first woman to run Boston, was a bandit. I believe current race director Dave McGillivray ran as a bandit when he was about 16. There’s a history of thousands who ran the course when it was a tiny little race, before it became THE BOSTON MARATHON. When the marathon was on life support and not too many people cared about it, the bandits were there. And yeah, they helped it become THE BOSTON MARATHON.

Bandits in Boston are OK with me. Come one, come all and experience the best marathon in the world.

Hal Higdon writes in Boston: A Century of Running: “Furthest back are the “bandits,” the unnumbered runners who lack official qualifying status. This lumpenproleteriat is tolerated by the BAA even though they have not contributed an entry fee. The lot of the bandits is not easy, since they will have been granted neither transportation nor access to the gym. Bandits rarely existed back in the 1960s when anyone could enter for a $1 fee, raised only reluctantly at the end of the decade to $2. Nevertheless, bandits have become an integral part of what makes the BAA Marathon a great race. “ Spectators lining the course do not discriminate between numbered and unnumbered runners in offering their applause,” concedes race director Guy Morse (Morse is now the executive director of the Boston Marathon.)