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Hot Topic Tuesday: Should Unregistered Racers Be Able to Hold Organizers Responsible for Injury?

If you didn't pay for your bib—or sign the waiver—are others responsible for your actions? (Photo by Laura Doss)

Signing up for a race can be a thrilling adventure: the anticipation of the registration window opening, chatting with all of your friends to see who's going and then willingly handing over your hard-earned cash to compete in a sweat-filled endurance event that will test your limits. It may all seem like fun and games, but remember, there's always a ton of paperwork to be completed. Emergency medical contact information, personal information and, of course, signing any disclaimers and liability waivers necessary so that race organizers are not held accountable for any injury. It can get serious if you take the time to read what you're putting your John Hancock on. After all, some races even require you to sign a death waiver!

Yes, registering for fitness events is usually the motivation we need to kick our training into high-gear. But it's no secret that some people still sneak in without paying for their spot. Whether it's taking someone else's bib (usually they've decided to opt out) or hopping in the middle of the race, there are typically way too many people to keep track of who's legitimately paid and signed a waiver, and who hasn't.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Robert Fectau II participated in the 2010 Filthy 5K Mud Run as an unregistered racer—and due to a rough spill, ended up partially paralyzed from the chest down. Now he's suing the race organizers for $30 million, claiming a part of the course was created with "negligence, reckless disregard, and/or gross negligence."

Reports say that Fectau fell awkwardly in a man-made mud pit close to the finish line, jamming his arms during the fall and allegedly causing the paralysis he lives with today. Because he was unregistered—he used a female friend's bib—he didn't sign any liability waivers.

Now tell us: Should Fectau win the case and be awarded the $30 million for his pain and radical lifestyle change? Do you think the race organizers be responsible for someone's safety when they entered against race policies?

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