Participants at the Haddonfield (Illinois) Marathon got a grisly warning Sunday morning—in the form of a severed head held aloft by the race director.
“Take a good look!” Michael Myers shouted at the estimated 850 runners. “This is what happens when you try to run my race without registering for it!”
The bandit appeared to be a white male in his 30s or 40s. Myers was seen leading the man away about an hour earlier, after spotting him trying to sneak into the starting corral.
“Strict?” Myers continued, breathing hard through his bullhorn. “Maybe. But I’ll tell you one thing—this gentleman won’t be banditing my events again anytime soon.”
“Have a good race.”
Keeping unregistered runners, known as “bandits,” out of road races is a continual and vexing challenge for organizers. But this appears to be the first time a race director has taken such a drastic measure to discourage the practice.
Runners reacted to Myers’ display mostly with silence, witnesses said, punctuated by a few gasps and shrieks. One participant reportedly offered tepid applause.
“It did seem a little draconian,” said John Carpenter, who was running his third consecutive Haddonfield Marathon. “But I understand where (Myers) is coming from. Bandits are a real problem.”
“They take resources the rest of us pay for,” added Jamie Curtis, another runner.
Curtis, pointing to the bib number pinned to her shirt, hastened to add that she was a registered runner.
Asked about the identity of the victim, and notifying his next of kin, Myers shrugged.
“I’d call his emergency contact, except he didn’t fill in that info on the back of his bib,” Myers said. “BECAUSE HE WASN’T WEARING A BIB.”