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What’s a Runner’s Bib? How to Put it On & What to Do Post Race

Mae's Miles and Music contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. Read our disclaimer here for more information.

If you’ve never run a race, you might not know some common running jargon among runners. “Shakeout run. Running repeats. Putting on a runner’s bib.

These may be things you’ve never heard of before, and that’s okay!

Even the most seasoned runner initially needed to learn all the running words and terminology. So here we’ll discuss what a runner’s bib is and how to put one on.

What is a Runner’s Bib?

Whether running a 5k, a half marathon, or a track and field race, you’ll need to know what a runner’s bib is.

No, it’s not something runners use while eating to keep their shirts clean.

A runner’s bib is the number that a runner affixes to their clothing to differentiate them from another for timing purposes. However, this isn’t the only reason a runner wears a bib.

Bibs show race officials which people are permitted to be on the race course. You aren’t authorized to be on the race course if you don’t have a race bib. Denoting runners using bibs helps keep spectators off the race course and people who didn’t register for the race.

A runner’s bib may include:

👉🏼 The runner’s race number

👉🏼 The name and distance of the race

👉🏼 The date of the race

👉🏼 A timing chip to record a runner’s race time

👉🏼 The runner’s name or other personalization

I'm holding my runner's bib for the Nashville 1/2 Marathon race. Runners pick up their bib at the race expo.

What’s the Material of a Race Bib?

Most race bibs are a Tyvek material.

Although race bibs look like paper, the bibs made of Tyvek are plastic! Tyvek is plastic designed from high-density polyethylene fibers. This allows the runner’s bib to be flexible and move with the runner’s form while also being rip-resistant.

What Size is a Race Bib?

Race bibs vary in size depending on the race organizer’s decision.

I’ve run races with bibs about eight and a half inches wide by eight inches tall. Other races have had shorter bibs with the same eight-and-a-half-inch width.

I even ran a Turkey Trot where the bib was about eight inches wide by only two inches tall. It was great to have such a manageable-sized bib.

Personalized Race Bib

Depending on the race you’re running, you might have the option to personalize your bib. This is especially true at races with more participants.

When personalizing your running bib, you can choose to have your first name displayed. This allows spectators to see your name and cheer you on directly.

It’s always nice to have someone shout your name and help you put some pep in your step when running a long-distance race like a half marathon.

Other runners like to get humorous with their race bib personalization, using the name of a favorite character or a funny nickname.

I'm kissing my race medal from the Chattanooga 7 Bridges Marathon. My runner's bib is personalized and says, "Amanda."
My personalized bib says my name – “Amanda.”

How to Wear a Race Bib

If you’ve never worn a race bib before, you might not know how to wear it. That’s okay; we’ll fix that today.

A runner usually wears a bib by affixing it to their outer clothing using safety pins.

I always like to use four safety pins, but some runners find that only two are necessary to keep the bib in place. This is particularly true of runners’ bibs on the smaller side.

Safety pins help you fasten your race bib to your clothing, but where do you place the bib? 

Do Runners Wear the Race Bib on Their Front or Back?

This is an excellent question. Although you may find different answers from one runner to the next, it’s best to always wear your race bib on the front of your body.

A runner’s bib signifies to course officials that the runner has registered and is permitted to run the race. For example, placing your bib on your back might confuse the race officials and cost you a new PR.

Most runners wear their bibs pinned on their shirts. Runners who run shirtless may opt to attach their bib to their sports bra or the front of their shorts or pants on one leg.

Depending on the size of the race bib, it might be cumbersome when placing it on the leg of your shorts.

How to Wear a Race Bib with Multiple Layers

If you’re running a race that starts early in the morning when it’s chilly, but you anticipate the temperature warming up, you’ll likely need to wear layers.

So what do you do with your bib if you’re running in layers?

Remember, a runner’s bib must be visible, so race officials know you are authorized to be on the course. That means you need to get creative when wearing layers.

One solution is to affix your race bib on your leg. This can help if you wear layers on your upper body and find you need to shed a layer during the race. This prevents the need to fumble with your bib to be sure it’s always attached to your outermost layer.

Another option is to use a running bib holder like the race belt mentioned below. This will keep your race bib attached to your waist no matter how many layers you start with or take off during the race.

The Best Running Bib Holder

Now that you know that many runners secure their race bib to their clothes with safety pins, you might wonder if there are alternatives. After all, is the safety pin the best bib holder?

How to Attach a Race Bib Without Pins

There are a few great solutions if you don’t want to put small safety pin holes in your expensive running clothes.

The first is using magnets like the following BIBUP Magnets. These will keep your bib in place while preventing those tiny safety pin holes that may lead to tears in your shirts.

Another fantastic option is a race belt with a bib holder. The RJ-Sport race belt will hold all your fuel and attach your bib to your body without needing safety pins or magnets.

What Do You Do with Your Race Bib After the Race?

Once your race day has come and gone, you’ll be able to do whatever you want with your bib.

What are your options? I’m glad you asked!

You could throw your race bib away, but there are a few unique alternatives. Any of the following options might be best for you.

The Best Race Bib Display

If you’re proud of your running accomplishment (and you should be!), you might consider hanging your bib in a bib display. There are various displays to choose from that also allow you to display your race medals.

Years ago, my sister gifted me this Gone for a Run bib and medal display. It holds all my medals and bibs from every significant race I’ve run.

For a bib display that doesn’t need to be hung on the wall, a Bibfolio race bib album is perfect for showing off your achievements on your coffee table.

Race Bib Coasters

One of the more unique options is turning your race bib into drink coasters. This is a great way to save your bibs for practical use.

You might find you’re creative enough to make them yourself. Alternatively, you could send a photo of your bib to a company like I Got Crafts to have some help commemorating your accomplishment.

Design a Race Bib Quilt

Another super creative way to display your race bibs (if you have multiple) is to have them turned into a quilt. Finding a crafty quilter to turn your race victories into useful memories is a great way to reuse your bibs.

If you’re not a quilter yourself Too Cool T-shirt Quilts can make your quilted dream a reality. 

Are Race Bibs Recyclable?

Yes!

If you don’t want to keep your runner’s bib, you might be looking to throw it away. However, you might be able to recycle it.

Most running bibs are made using Tyvek, a recyclable plastic. If you know that your running bib is made of Tyvek, recycle it with your plastics, not paper.

I'm wearing my runner's bib the morning before the Chicago Marathon in 2016. My boyfriend is with me to support me.

Final Thoughts: Runner’s Bib

If you’ve wondered what the proper term for a runner’s numbers worn during races is, you now know to refer to them as a runner’s bib.

If you’re getting ready for your first race and need to know how to attach them to your clothes, this post should have helped make this race day element easier.

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