Road races have been conducted more or less the same way for decades, so it’s promising to see any sort of innovation in the space.
That’s why it was exciting to see the bib displacement bonus system that the California International Marathon set up for the American athletes competing at tomorrow’s USATF Marathon Championships.
Here’s a brief description of how it works:
All the elite runners have been assigned bib numbers, #1 for the top man and woman on down.
Here are the top ten bib numbers in the men’s and women’s races:
For every place an athlete overperforms their bib number, they will earn a $100 bonus in addition to the standard prize purse. For instance, if the athlete wearing bib #10 finishes in ninth place, they will receive a $100 bonus. If that athlete finishes in eighth place, they’ll get $200. If that athlete wins, they’ll get a $900 bib displacement bonus, plus the $20,000 first place prize.
Athletes can only receive displacement bonuses by finishing in the top ten. Bibs #11 and up all start will the value of 11.
Here’s a visual representation of how it would work:
In any case, it’s a fun quirk to the elite race that should bring a little extra excitement to race day. Dark horses who might be underestimated coming in get an extra reward for overcoming the more seasoned veterans ranked ahead of them. The extra cash also gives runners an extra bit of incentive in a tight finish.