Ottawa Race Weekend Bib Market…


… and why I will be using it next time.

Update:  In the last few weeks this post has been the most popular post on my blog.  Clearly there are many people looking into the bib market for ORW 2015.  If you are one of those people, welcome to my blog and feel free to hang out for a while, maybe even leave a comment.  I’ll be training again for the ORW half this year, as soon as I complete my dream half in Prague, Czech Republic at the end of March.  If you want to read my race reviews of ORW you can click on any of the following:

Now back to the original post…


The Ottawa race organizers recognize that you cannot always run a race that you registered for, so in the past transfers were allowed during a specific time period prior to the race.  It was up to the runner to find someone interested in their bib and arrange payment between parties.  A $15 transfer fee would then be paid to the race in order to make the change official.  The buyer would get his or her own name on the bib and would also be able to choose the appropriate corral and t-shirt size.  Various forums and websites would post requests for bibs or for sale notices.  Personally I think all large races should allow for transfers, clearly it can be done.

This year organizers went one step further and introduced the Bib Market.  Runners are still able to do the transfers independently, just as they have in the past.  Now though they also have the option of posting their bib right on the race website and buyers can go there to pick up a bib.  If you buy a bib on the market, you pay the race directly, the same way you would have done back during the original registration period.  If your bib is sold, you receive a refund on your credit card, minus a few fees.  When I spoke to one of the race organizers last month he noted that the technology is there to do this easily, so why wouldn’t they offer this service?  You have to love a race that is thinking about its runners and wants to provide the best services possible.  And hey, if they make a few bucks off extra fees, well I figure they deserve it for not forcing people to pay for a race they can no longer attend.

Last year I decided to buy a bib for the sold out half marathon.  This of course was before the Bib Market, so I found someone who posted a bib for sale on a local running forum.  I contacted her, gave her my name and email address and dropped a cheque in the mail.  She very kindly did the online transfer immediately, not even waiting for the cheque to arrive.  When it did come, she let me know and wished me all the best in the race.  It couldn’t have been simpler.  This year, when I decided to sell my 5k bib and my half marathon bib in order to buy a full marathon bib I decided to use the same method.  While I loved the idea of the Market, my thought was I might as well buy directly from someone so they would know their bib was sold.  One “risk” to the Market is there is no guarantee your bib will be sold before the end of the transfer period and I don’t think there is any way of seeing how many bibs in your distance are up for sale.

So I quickly sold my bibs and agreed almost two weeks ago to buy a bib from someone in another city.  This time the seller wanted the cheque first before doing the transfer process.  Fair enough, I understand wanting the cheque in hand before making it official.  I immediately mailed off the cheque, not wanting to cause any delays.  I expected that it would arrive at the seller’s home sometime last week.  Unfortunately the seller failed to tell be she would be out of town until yesterday and therefore unable to collect her mail.  This would not have been an issue a month ago when there was still lots of time to complete the transfer.  Once I knew of her absence (and only found out because I emailed asking if the cheque had arrived since I hadn’t hard anything) I became mildly concerned as the April 30th transfer deadline was quickly approaching.  But I settled myself and accepted her offer of completing the transfer by Sunday (yesterday).  You can guessed what happened.  No word of a transfer yesterday.  So I sent another email last night, requesting that the official transfer happen by this morning and if there was going to be a problem with that schedule to please let me know.  I woke up to an email saying it would be done this morning.  By one o’clock this afternoon there was still no sign of a transfer.

I have to ask… is there any runner out there who after months of marathon training and only two days before the closing of the transfer period would be comfortable with not actually having a bib to their name???  Is it just me who is paranoid??  It is not like it was a ticket for the theatre.  I could miss a musical with only some disappointment.  But miss a marathon that I have trained for because a stranger has yet to do the two minute transfer?  All I could think of was at what point do I stop the cheque and buy a bib from the Market?  Sure there was two more days left to do the transfer, but I wasn’t exactly feeling confident anymore that it was going to happen.  And there was the irony of knowing that when I offered to buy this bib, I knew that if I waited until the last few days (i.e.: NOW) I could probably independently buy one at a significant discount since people would be keen to sell for whatever they could get. Sure enough, there are some cheap bibs out there right now.  I chose not to wait to the last minute however, as I did not want to deal with the stress of not having a bib.  Look how that worked out for me!

In the end, with another email and some complaining I got the transfer done.  Apparently, and I quote, transferring a bib was not a priority for this person due to her busy life… yes, that was what she told me.  She did note that she hadn’t deposited the cheque yet, I guess that was supposed to make me feel better about not having a bib in my name.  I know marathon training can make you a little crazy, but this scenario was just a little too stressful for me.  I can’t tell you the relief I felt this afternoon when I finally got that transfer officially finished.  That bib is mine!  And next time, I think I will just buy from the Bib Market.

7 thoughts on “Ottawa Race Weekend Bib Market…

  1. Mike @ 3 Cheap Runners

    Phew, crisis averted!! I would be totally stressed out too. I did bib transfers for Around the Bay this year and it worked great…I agree that all big races should offer this! It’s a great option for everyone, including the race itself who makes more money with minimal effort. No brainier in my opinion.

    1. kristi Post author

      It definitely feels good to actually have that bib in my name. Now I just have to make it through the actual run!

  2. runrodrun

    This may sound harsh. And take it with a grain of salt as I am going through some very bad taper-induced temper flareups. But how dare she?! Short of unavoidable dire familial tragedy I can’t see any true runner doing this to one of their own. We are a community. And true runners appreciate all that one of their own goes through to ready themselves for these key events. Again, aside from very extreme circumstances, we would never do this to another. Moreover, in such unavoidable extreme cases we would not provide such a flip response to your concerns. Running karma will get her. And running karma will reward you Kristi 🙂

    Ok, taper-induced soapbox rant over.

    I am so glad all this is behind you and you can now concentrate on your training and having a good race.

    1. kristi Post author

      I LOVE your taper rant!!! And you said exactly what I was thinking – another runner should get the fact that a bib transfer is important when the deadline is looming. And if you say you are going to do it by a certain day just do it or apologize for not doing so…don’t say it wasn’t a priority in your life.
      Best of luck this weekend – I’ll think of you while I am doing my last 32k training run!

  3. Jimbo

    I like the Bib Market idea too. Makes total sense. HOWEVER, after a week waiting for someone to buy my bib, I decided to look at the runottawa site this morning to see how the bibs are being sold.
    All I could see is “Half Marathon 100% sold out”, and if you hit ‘Register” , the only half marathon bib available is $250 (supporting Ottawa Hospital). I did manage to find the Bib Market eventually, but only after a link appeared in one of the changing content areas. Initial impression for anyone visiting the site is that the half marathon is sold out, and only available ticket is $250.
    So I’m curious: how many half marathon bibs are actually being sold in the bib market? Should I keep waiting, or as the transfer deadline looms, should I try Kijiji?

    1. kristi Post author

      I think you have hit on a definite area in need of improvement. I remember thinking last year that you should have some way of knowing where you were in the line of people selling so that you had some idea as to whether you were close to selling or not.
      If you decide to try selling on your own, another place to post is on I have bought bibs there twice now, the first being a great experience, the second being the crappy one. I am surprised your half m bib hasn’t sold quickly since that is such a popular distance. it does make me wonder if there is quite a lot up for sale this year (maybe because of the crappy winter – not enough training for many people to be ready?)


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