Race number hoarding and musing

Race numbersThe trusty race number is a runners’ identification badge, coming equipped with a multitude of benefits.

I’d rather not say I ‘collect’ race numbers. More like ‘acquire and forget’ about them. Unintentional hoarding perhaps.

Maybe when I’ve completed 50 races or so, it will become more of an issue. For the time being, the meagre seven I have sit under a sturdy, ever-increasing pile of documents. Well, they’ve gotta be kept nice and flat haven’t they?

Among their plus points, your race number means event photographers can filter vast amounts of imagery when uploading. This means a simple search for the number brings up all those lovely grimacing, gurning photos of you from a race. The kind you’d rather never saw the light of day.

There’s money to make in the race number world too.?I’ve recently discovered companies in the U.S that sell bib holders, pairing them with medals.

And while I hide them away, there are also many ways to put your numbers on display. Perhaps you could wallpaper a room with them, like one person in this article did?

Additionally, there are even race number magnets on offer to help keep the things on better while competing.

How is a race number formed?

A simple question but one I don’t have an exact answer for! But just looking at a race number gets me thinking.

Sometimes I consider how the decision is reached. For Mo Farah it’s usually straightforward I guess – 1. For the rest of us it’s different.

Maybe it’s a random number generator? Other times it could be alphabetical or dependant on the order you enter the event. Granted, if your race has elite athletes involved, they will get the early numbers. No big race organiser wants to see No.3736 come over the line first in front of the cameras.

Personally I wait for the day when I open the race entry envelope to find I’ve landed 999 or 666. I’d even take 1007 and just run with one arm strategically covering the first digit.

There is also a challenge to beat your number. So, say you’ve got 666 on your front. Aside from the bonus that other runners might decide to steer clear of you, that’s your goal – to finish higher than 666nd place. A neat game but also one that could go completely pear-shaped. Plus, there is often higher numbers than entrants, strangely.

Clearly then, the race number is not just some non-descript item.

Ok, so it can be pesky trying to speedily put safety pins in them half an hour before a race. But they’re great things, especially when they include a timing chip.

I find it much easier having a chip built-in to a race number. Far more so than needing to insert a chip onto a specifically-laced running shoe.

So the next time you pick up your race number think more deeply about it. Its origins and the effort (or likely randomness) that goes into giving you that particular one. For the next few hours, you’re identifiable by those digits so wear them with pride!

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