scottishathletics has just issued a sternly worded reminder about the dangers of swapping race numbers, a practice that is strictly prohibited by the rules of the governing body.
While the emailed statement, which comes on the back of a well publicised incident at a recent scottishathletics licensed ultrarunning event, is directed at scottishathletics members, its content is worth noting by all runners.
Chief Executive Mark Munro wrote: "For organisers, this often-innocent practice can cause huge headaches, if they either do not allow transfers, or are not at least aware of them.
"Problems arise most often if a runner is taken ill during an event. The back of a race number usually carries their medical information at a road, trail or ultra event, or it is certainly detailed within the race director’s database and linked to their bib number.
"If illness or injury does occur, the risks created through incorrectly identifying a runner are very real and potentially life threatening, as has been evidenced in other countries in recent years."
Munro also reminded all competitors that deciding to run in someone else's number could also have an impact, however unintentional, on their fellow competitors.
He illustrates his point by describing how undeclared number-swapping can have an impact on team positions. "Even if an athlete does not compete in a team event, they may inadvertently have an indirect impact on finishing positions in other teams."
He also notes that number swapping is unfair to other runners who might have been hoping to take part in a sold-out event: "Where entries are full and waiting lists have been created, you could be keeping someone away from a competition opportunity where they legitimately deserve that place."
He further warned that wearing another runner’s number can also lead to inaccurate data being collected for Run Britain rankings, or for use within other events.
Munro closed his communication to members with a stern warning to avoid the practice, leaving no doubt where the sport’s ruling body in Scotland stands on the matter: "Whilst we will work with event organisers to try to create processes (eg. swapping policies, where practical), scottishathletics will operate a zero tolerance policy towards any athletes caught behaving in this manner, and sanctions may apply."