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What Is a “Flat Me”? All About the Trend and Controversy of Sharing Bib Numbers Before the Race

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A flat me photo is a popular trend, but it's not a good idea to include a race bib. What Is a “Flat Me”? All About the Trend and Controversy of Sharing Bib Numbers Before the Race www.runnerclick.com

It’s the night before the race. After the pre-race dinner of choice—while trying to digest because of the butterflies in bellies—runners lay out their race day outfit along with their gear and bib number. Not a pin is to be forgotten. The runner carefully arranges every article of clothing neatly as if dressing an imaginary mannequin. Then it’s time to accessorize: Garmin, compression socks and gels placed around the outfit like decorations. The race bib is placed on top, and voila! It’s a masterpiece, so it’s time to take that “flat me” photo to share on social media.

As runners, there is plenty of lingo we learn along our journeys. From words like cadence and fartlek to dreadmill and runchies, we have an ever-growing list of vocabulary and slang. “Flat me” is just another one to add to the list.

So what exactly is a “flat me”?

This doesn’t mean a selfie of the runner wearing their race gear to bed.

A “flat me” or “flat runner” is a photo that is taken by the runner of their race day outfit including all the gear and accessories that is to be worn. Of course, this means without them in it. Think of it everything the runner is wearing and will have on them in a race day photo— minus them actually being in the picture.

Photo: Lauren Keating | RunnerClick

The Flat Me Trend

“Flat me” photos became popular because this is a trendy photo to share with running communities on social media. It might sound silly to some, but “flat me” photos are a unique way to share with followers that race day is coming. Think of it as the pre-race day photo to document. And while it is fun to stage the photo in a creative way, it also allows for followers, family, friends, and supporters to be a cheer squad before the race. That means when the runner rises to grind, they can read all the words of encouragement as they head to the starting line.

Method To The Madness

Taking a “flat me” photo actually has a real benefit besides serving as a good photo for Instagram.

It’s always a good idea to lay out the gear needed for race day the night before. This includes items like headphones, choice of nutrition, running shoes, etc. The last thing anyone wants when dealing with nerves and anxiety on race day is showing up to the starting line and realizing you forgot something. It serves as a way to do a physical checklist of things needed. If the weather calls for rain, it might mean remembering to pack that shell layer. Or if it’s going to be a hot one, pack that hydration pack with water.

Photo: Pixabay

The whole point of doing so is to make sure that nothing important is left behind. This also includes the race bib. Without a number, the runner is left without knowing their finishing time if the race is chip timed. It also means the runner can’t be identified for race photos.

But is it smart reveal your bib number when taking your own “flat me” photo?

The Bib Controversy

It seems harmless to post a flat runner photo that includes the race bib. It is the runner’s number that is to be worn proudly. But some big races like the Boston Marathon strongly recommend that participants do not share photos that include their bib number prior to the race.

This comes after a bunch of copycat bibs flooded races back in 2014. What happened was runners would share their “flat me” photos that clearly showed their numbers. Then others would make counterfeit bib that looked real with that runner’s number and attends the race. It served as a way for guaranteed entry into the race without paying and no one questioning if they were the person associated with that number.

This was only found after runners looked up race photos of themselves by their bib number and found others sporting the same number. Because of duplicate numbers created by these “race bandits,” the Boston Athletic Associate warned runners not to post their number or risk being disqualified from results.

How To Take A Flat Me Race Photo

Just because a flat me photo shouldn’t include the race bib doesn’t mean runners who are excited about their upcoming race shouldn’t participate in the trend. It still is a fun way to get those last words of encouragement and prepare creatively for race morning.

Photo: Lauren Keating | RunnerClick

The photos can still look official sans bib by making them look good. To take a “flat me” photo, start by neatly placing the shirt and bottoms as if they were being worn. Smooth out the clothes for there are no wrinkles or folds. This will be the base and central focal point of the photo. Then work from head to toes then side to side. Place a hat, visor, sunglasses or hair accessories where the head would be.

Then add the running shoes for the feet. Place these directly under shorts for a compact look. Another option to place them to the side along with socks. Add accessories around the “body” like fitness tracker, gels, belts, armbands and any other gear that is to be worn that day.


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