I was recently sent a set of Race Dots to try out, and with 4 races on my schedule in 4 consecutive weekends, it was a perfect month to ditch the safety pins and try out Race Dots! First of all, what are Race Dots? “Race Dots are the simple, elegant and effective alternative to safety pins. Each Race Dot is a unique assembly of two magnets that lock together to hold your race number in place, but they never hurt your clothing.” (From Race Dots’ website). The following review is a summary of my own experiences with Race Dots, followed by my opinion of the product. I was given Race Dots free of charge, but was not sponsored or paid for my review.
The Race Dots set I received came with 5 Dots, an extra Dot in case one runs away. Race Dots are sold in packs of 4, 5, and 10, and can also be purchased individually. The back side of the magnet can also be purchased individually. Race Dots are made in the USA, and come in many different colors, There are also limited edition Dots, and you can pay to have them customized, too. The Race Dots are packaged on a handy piece of cardboard that has holes (like on a race bib) for the Dots to comfortably sit in. I simply discarded the plastic and kept the cardboard to store my Race Dots. A handy “User Tips” card is also included.
Race Dots are different from traditional magnets; the design allows the front of the magnet to nest into the back of the magnet, so when the front is set on a race bib properly (using the pre-punched holes in the corners), it secures the bib very snugly. It’s also mentioned in the paperwork that the bibs don’t interfere with race timing chips that sometimes are placed on the back of bibs, but it does warn to keep the magnets away from your phone, credit cards, and computers. FYI, in the pic below, I couldn’t put my hand any closer to the back of the magnet without it snapping together… that’s how strong the magnets are!
The first race I used Race Dots on was the Dot to Dot 10k. I received my bib the night before the race, and was able to secure my bib to my shirt beforehand, with my race shirt on the floor and me crouched over it with the bib and magnets. I admit, I struggled a bit. The magnets are super strong, and it was hard to place the bib where I wanted it while trying to keep the magnets from snapping together. I finally managed to get it all set, but I was a bit frustrated at how hard it was. My first thought was that safety pins would be easier. During the race, the magnets did not budge. There was no irritation on my skin from having the Dots on, and the weight of the magnets was not noticeable at all. Having the Race Dots on my shirt didn’t cause any extra bounce, but the top two magnets snapped to the bottom two magnets when I bent down to untie my shoes after the race!
The next weekend, I had the Labor Day 5k on my schedule. This particular race did not offer packet pickup until the morning of the race. I took my Race Dots, and attempted to put them on while wearing my shirt, and it was too difficult. I ended up using safety pins.
The following weekend was the Plaza 10k. I heard a couple tips about getting used to Race Dots, and opted to only use the top two Dots to secure my bib. Once again, it did take me a little while to get the bib on the shirt, but it was smoother than the first attempt two weeks prior. The Dots stayed put, the bib stayed put, and I really liked only using two Dots. FYI, for those who use bib belts, the top two holes of the bib are the only two used, so using two dots works very similarly. It’s hard to see the Race Dots in the photo below, because the yellow on the Dots blends into the bib, but if you look closely at the runners near me and then at my bib, you can see the yellow Dots!
The very next weekend was the Broadway Bridge 10k, and once again, I used Race Dots to secure my bib to my shirt the night before the race. I used the two top holes of the bib and used only two Race Dots, and I was able to fasten my bib fairly quickly, and fairly easily. Race Dots are definitely something you have to kind of practice a few times before you become efficient, or at least that’s my take. The bib stayed put through the race perfectly.
Final thoughts: Race Dots work. No safety pins are needed to secure your bib! BUT, that being said, would I spend $20 on a pack of Dots? Probably not. I, personally, don’t mind using safety pins, and I don’t mind putting safety in holes in the shirts I wear to races. I pick shirts that I won’t mind if they get dirty at the race, if safety pins leave holes in them, or if they get snagged or ripped while running on the course. Now I’m not saying I’m going out there with the goal of beating up my gear, but I go into the race knowing that anything is possible, and my shirt, shoes, pants, body, etc, may get beaten up for one reason or another.
I do think Race Dots could be a great benefit to those who have expensive race singlets or triathlon bike kits or wet suits they don’t want to put safety pin holes in. Or for winter running when you wear a thick jacket and want your bib on the outside. Or they would be a fun novelty race item for those who have extra money to spend on things like this. But for the average joe runner, they are cool, but not a necessity. I’ll continue to use Race Dots when I am able to pick up my bib before the race and secure my bib to my shirt prior to the race, but probably for races that have packet pick up immediately before the race, I will stick to the ease of safety pins.