Wow. Have I really been writing here for a few years?
There are a few things in life that really annoy me. One is that when you buy a car that you find you don't like after a few days or weeks of driving you can't just take it back to the place you bought it and get a refund like you can with an air conditioner or pair of shoes.
Another is races where you enter a week in advance, pay a larger entry fee because you missed the first deadline, don't get the shirt or any of the other stuff that the race gives to the earlier entrants because you missed the first deadline and are told the shirts, etc. are "all gone," then find that the all gone shirts or whatevers are being sold at a table. So while I generally would never run a race I didn't enter, I might enjoy knowing that such a race had a few bandits.
Another thing that annoys me is that so many races that aren't marathons have become 5ks because the short time the race takes generates maximum profits for the organization putting on the race.
And I have a hard time not believing that there's a fair amount of gouging being done to runners. If someone puts on a race to benefit the Society for Dyslexic, Albino, Orphans and charges $20 to enter and then turns thousands of dollars over to the Society, it stands to reason that they could have put on a race just for runners, not turned thousands of dollars in profits, and lowered the fee.
It's no big deal to me now. I can afford whatever entry fees come along and I don't race all that frequently. But a young runner in a situation similar to what my own was around 1980 would have a hard time racing very frequently. Maybe bandits are just cheap SOBs, but they are about the only people in the sport who are really protesting the high cost of entering races and while I don't exactly condone what they're doing, I sort of admire it.
Now, the solution here would be for races to charge a "no frills" entry fee, say $5, for which you get a number and an officially recorded time, a "shirt package" where for a bit more you get a shirt as well, and a "deluxe package" where you pay your arm and leg and get the shirt, the goody bag, the chance to win whatever comes in the post-race drawing, the feed, etc. I know that race directors who've tried this often say they abandoned it because almost no one went for the no-frills package. So what? Keep it as an option for the 5 or 6 people who might use it. I think they're using the fact that few choose the cheap option as a rationale for gouging everyone.
As to the liability thing, I'm sure some insurance company will figure a way to write a policy that will cover damage to uninsured participants for an extra fee. Most of us pay for uninsured motorist coverage with our car insurance.
I've enjoyed your posts as well and generally agree that it's better to enter races than not if you're going to be running them. But I get a little tired of people who are so judgemental about what other people do that they fire babysitters who reckon there's no harm in going for a run on a public roadway at the same time there's a race going on.