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What Type of Race Bib Should I Use?


When putting on a race, there are hundreds of decisions to be made along the way. Some are necessary and fairly insignificant. Others can be very impactful and directly affect the experience of your participants. Each runner will hold your bib in their hand and pin it to their shirt on race day. In the RaceDirector blog today, we will give you some tips on how to choose wisely.

What Type of Race Bib Should I Use?

Before we go too far let's take one question off the table for this topic: Should I print/make my own race bibs? Perish the thought right now. A basic bib can be bought online for as low as $0.10. Even if your race will have less than 50 people, please take the time to get a proper bib. Especially, if you hope to grow your event and present a professional image to your participants. The most basic bibs you can buy online will have two of the most important characteristics every bid should have: It will be weatherproof and tear-resistant. Many bibs these days are made from Tyvek. This is the material builders use to wrap and insulate houses. Road ID also offers up to 250 free bibs for your race, as long as you're okay with their branding on the bib, rather than yours.

For a greener option, you can choose a material that is biodegradable, yet still have the same durability. Some printers are even utilizing soy-based inks to further reduce environmental impacts. So if you seem to have a particularly earthy crowd, you might want to lean towards this kind of option. Jump over to our article Go Green! for more tips on creating and promoting an environmentally-friendly event.

One of the next considerations is whether or not you need a pull tab on your bib. These are perforated along the bottom of the bib and can be removed after registration, or as a runner crosses the finish line to collect a finisher's medal or race shirt. In general, this option adds about $0.05 to the cost of a bib. It does make the bib a bit more bulky as well.

What you actually have printed on the bib is what will impact the cost the most. Generic numbers in one color with no other printing are obviously the least expensive. Adding multiple colors, a custom logo, or screening an image in the background are just a few common options for making a bib reflect the personality of your event. You can expect costs to range from $0.21 to almost $1.00 depending on options and quantities.

How your race is timed is another facet of your event that could be impacted by your bib selection. There are bibs that have "D" tags attached to the bottom of the bib that are very similar to the pull tabs described above. Before the race, the tags are removed from the bib and looped through the laces of a shoe by the runner. These tags contain RFID chips that are read by mats and other devices along the course and the start/finish line. Some of these RFID chips are now a permanent part of the bib and do not have to be removed. These are often referred to as "B" tags. They look like a small piece of rectangular foam on the back of the bib.

Think of your bib as advertising. Every runner will wear one and many will display them as a memento afterwards. Not only is the bib a great advertising opportunity for you and your event, but it can be as well for one lucky sponsor. So how much should you ask a sponsor to be on the bib? $1 per runner is a pretty solid place to start. As your event grows, the coveted spot on the bib should rise in proportion to the number or participants and the sponsor's exposure. It is a win-win-win situation. You get the cost of your bibs covered, the sponsor gets premium exposure, and the runners get a unique bib. Check out our article on Race Sponsorships for more ideas to gain and retain quality sponsors.

There are plenty of options out there. No matter what option you choose, look at which bib will give you the functionality you need and look great as well. As your event grows, you might be able to upgrade your bib and the options you choose. Be sure to browse the RaceDirector Blog for more useful tips to help upgrade other aspects of your race!

See for yourself how RaceDirector can help you save money on race registration fees while maximizing your time with robust race management features.

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