How Do You Secure Your Race Number?

It's tough to get it exactly where you want it, and forgetting your safety pins can spell disaster.

By: Dave McGillivray, for Runner's World

Ever look really closely at a race photo with lots of runners in it and notice their bib numbers? How many of them have their numbers pinned on neat and straight and in the exact proper place?

I’ve been racing for more than 50 years and probably have run in more than 1,000 events, yet pinning my bib number on my running singlet is still a challenge. Whether I try to pin the number on my singlet while it’s on my body or while it’s laid out on a table or car seat, I can never seem to get it straight and exactly where I want it. I have to take it off and start all over again. It’s a wonder I haven’t missed the starting gun of lots and lots of road races while messing around with my bib number!

And, then there is always the chance you’ll forget some or all of your safety pins. Then what? Have you ever run a race with your bib number in your hand or tucked into your shorts?

Then there’s the matter of where to place the pins—in the pre-punched holes, or through the number itself for extra snugness? What about the tear-offs on the bib—do you leave those on or rip them off? (I guess it depends on what the tear-offs are for—you’d want to leave them on to claim your gear bag or to get food or a free beer at the finish line.) Do you fill out the emergency medical info on the back of your bibs? (You should!)

One thing I discovered while getting back into triathlons was the bib belt. I hadn’t used one before last year—I’m old-school—and I started doing so in all the triathlons I did. Then it dawned on me that I could use a belt in running races as well (duh).

It’s not perfect, but what I really like about it is that you don’t need safety pins, which saves the race director money and is environmentally friendly. Plus, if it’s a chilly day and you want the option to remove layers midrace, you can easily keep your number visible at all times.

Do you have any tips for ending bib-placement angst?

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Dave McGillivray is president of DMSE, Inc., and has been Race Director at the Boston Marathon since 2001.