Expect ‘pirates’: Oak Bay Half Marathon field will include uninvited guests

Expect 'pirates': Oak Bay Half Marathon field will include uninvited guests

The streets will be full on Sunday for the Oak Bay Half Marathon, but not everybody’s paid up to pound the pavement.

“There are runners of all types,” says race director Nick Walker, and that includes the type that jumps into a race without registering or paying, which Walker says is a problem.

“It runs a big risk for an event and can put a bad taint on an event or potentially stop the event from happening in the future if a medical emergency should happen,” Walker said.

They’re known as “bandits” or “pirates” and no race is safe from these uninvited guests.

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“It’s a phenomenon that happens not just in small races but in bigger sized races, the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon,” says David, an avid runner who admits to having played the role of pirate in the past. “I have, and I’ve felt guilty because of it.”

Sunday’s race will be prime picking for pirates, as registration is sold out for the first time in the race’s 18-year history.

“We’ve been working hard to promote this event locally and internationally,” says Walker. “We’re going to have more than 2000 runners and volunteers out there.”

Walker says record registration is happening as the region experiences a running boom.

“There was a big resurgence, especially post-COVID. People have gone out for the first time and realized they love it,” Walker said.

That 2,000 people doesn’t include the fence-hopping few who compete alongside registered runners. Walker says if you spot a pirate on the course, alert a race official.

“It’s unfortunate that there are some of those folks that feel entitled. We’re using the streets, so they think they can use the streets too,” Walker said. “Don’t head out there and take the resources away from people who have paid and took the time to register. There are a lot of issues we run into, whether it’s medical, or just not knowing who’s out on the course.”

The telltale sign of a pirate is the lack of a bib and race number. Just remember to enjoy the view.

“Running along Beach Drive is probably one of the most scenic half marathons in the country,” says Walker.

RELATED: TC10K run sees a record breaking turnout with over 8.5K participants

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