Why Don’t All Races Offer Race Day Number Pick-up?

Q Why don’t some races allow you to pick up your race number and packet on race day versus requiring you to make the extra effort to pick it up the day or two before the race? Many times this can be a major inconvenience for some runners. – RACHAEL E.


A Good question, Rachael. Some races actually do allow race day pick-up and some races don’t. Every race has its own reasons for doing so or not. However, I can only speculate as to why some races may not allow race day number pick-up:


1 Early morning race start

Many races start very early in the morning and to allow race day pick-up could run the risk of a significant delay in the start of the race.


2 Entry problems

If a participant has an issue with their number or their name can’t be located in the database, there may not be enough time to make any necessary changes to correct the problem if it is not found out until race morning.


3 Race day registration

Races that sell out obviously aren’t looking for more people to register on race day and even races that don’t sell out want to finalise their database no later than the day before. That way, they can review it for problems and send it to the timing and scoring company in advance, so they can be sure everything is in good order.


4 Location and space

Many times, race registration is conducted in a different location than the start of the race. As such, it could be unreasonable to have someone go to one location to pick up his or her number and then drive to another location to the start of the race.


5 Relocation of registration

If the race has to break down registration and then relocate or transfer it to a new location on race morning, this too can become very challenging and risky.


6 Expo

Some races have major expos, which only occur prior to race day. As such, they want to see as many, if not all, of the participants at the expo who have registered for the race.


7 Expectations

If you allow for race day number pick-up, in most cases, you would not know months or even weeks out how many participants to prepare for on race day, making it very difficult to plan and have the appropriate staff working.


Again, every race has its own reason for allowing or not allowing race day number pick-up. The above comments are just samples of reasons some may decide not to do so.

One tip – even though races may advertise that they do not allow for race day number pick-up, if you have an extraordinary reason why you absolutely can’t pick up prior to race day, give the race a call and plead your case. Most, but perhaps not all, may make a limited number of exceptions to this policy (which unfortunately can open the proverbial can of worms for the race). – DAVE


Dave McGillivray has been Race Director at the Boston Marathon since 2001.

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