High School Runner Drops Out of Regional Race After Being Assigned Number ’666′

A student in Whitley County, Kentucky was getting ready to run in the high school regional cross country race when she suddenly decided to drop out.

The reason?

This was her bib number:

Yup. The mark of the beast. (Or at least, one interpretation of it.)

You see, Codie Thacker is a very religious young woman, and she said just the thought of wearing that number made her “sick.”

Along with her coach, Gina Croley, she tried to get a different number, but was turned down by three separate officials.

So, rather than run the race under the number 666, she decided to drop out.

I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God and try to take that number.

And there you have it. A kid who had been training for months felt like she had to drop out of an important competition or risk offending her god. Granted, she’s a junior and next year’s competition awaits her, but still — it’s such a bummer all around.

I can’t seem to muster up much vitriol for Thacker. I think it was the wrong choice to make, and I think she made it for stupid reasons, but I just kind of feel sad for her. Or maybe not for her but about the general situation. It’s just kind of a microcosm of how perfectly well-meaning people make poor decisions that are against their own best interest for such a silly reason.

I also kind of think they should have given her a new number, maybe? Is that opening the door for people requesting their lucky number and walking all over the officials? Probably, I suppose.

What I can get super annoyed at is the reporting from Lexington’s NBC affiliate who had this kicky line:

There won’t be any more races for Thacker this season. She’s now focused on next year, ready to keep running without running away from her beliefs.

I don’t think I’ve ever rolled my eyes that much since I started writing for this blog. And I’ve written multiple posts about Pat Robertson. It’s just bad, pandering, stupid, pandering, bad, pandering, pandering, trite, icky writing. I’m also imagining how pleased with himself the reporter was when he came up with that little capper.

In any case, before any Religious Right group complains that this was an attack on Christians, let it be known that the assignment of the numbers was purely random. Furthermore, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association now says they would have changed the number if they knew Thacker’s reasons were religiously-motivated… which is a pretty strange thing to admit, because is there really any other kind of reason for students to say they don’t want the number 666?

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • Art_Vandelay

    I don’t get it. This kid believes so devoutly in the devil and hell that she’s willing to drop out of a race due to a number that someone told her endorses these things but why the fuck isn’t she freaking out about all of the people that she’s undoubtedly heard exist that are going to be tortured forever by this so-called “Beast”? If she were really concerned about such things, instead of running cross-country races, shouldn’t she be running around frantically trying to save people from eternal damnation? If you were really so morally awesome that you couldn’t bear to wear some arbitrarily chosen number to run a race, how the fuck are you spending any of your time running races to begin with?

    There are billions of souls out there that need saving, Codie. You have the truth…now go do something with it.

    • Sids

      I always get that feeling when talking to Christians who don’t know their bible very well. If they really think that an eternal afterlife of paradise is hinged on following the teachings of that book – and the alternative is unimaginable torture, why are they not spending every minute of every day making damn sure they know it perfectly. Just imagine if they found themselves in hell because they hadn’t read a passage closely enough. If they really believe it, how do they not take it seriously?

      • Art_Vandelay

        Spoiler alert: They don’t really believe it. They’re just slaves to the power of confirmation bias.

        You’re right though. If they really thought that book will make them immortal, they’d spend every free minute studying it. I know I would.

        • http://ma-sblog.blogspot.com/ Alice

          I did

      • baal

        hrmmmm, were the xtians to go all bibly nutty, they’d probably stop listening to their various religious leaders. The RCC historically was against folks reading the bible since it tended to lead to heresy or even more protestant sects.

      • LarryCook

        Right. And why aren’t they happy as hell at funerals? Why wouldn’t they be ecstatic all the time if they truly believed? And if you really truly believed, why would there ever be a temptation to sin in any way ever?

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Have you ever listened to that crowd? They are delighted at the idea of all their perceived enemies roasting in hell.

    • Kevin R Breen

      I would chalk it up to modularity of mind. It’s not that “she” doesn’t believe so much as that the loose collection of cells and hormones in her brain that we think of as “she” have differing, sometimes conflicting interests that come together as a team to produce illogical, but usually functional results..

  • Regina Carol Moore

    This. Is. Hilarious.

    • Crash Override

      No, it isn’t. It’s pathetic. Pathetic on the part of this young woman’s parents, church, and community for drilling into her the fear of a random number.

      • The Other Weirdo

        Also on the part of this young woman herself, too.

      • Regina Carol Moore

        I agree with you but I still think it’s hilarious. I ran track and X-country and nothing would have stopped me from running that race.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

    I wonder if she would be permitted to swap numbers with someone unbothered by three sixes. Regardless, I think fearing the number itself misses the point of beastly numerology. How can a quantity, for example, be evil all by its mathematical self?

    • smrnda

      The Greeks wished to keep the fact that the square root of 2 was irrational secret for some odd reason. I myself get a thrill from writing 1/0 at times :-)

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

        Cherish it. I remember the days when I enjoyed a dangerous, rebellious sensation from using 666. But the thrill is gone. I’ve been a long-time listener of metal music. The genre has clichéd the joy right out of it.

      • allein

        My total for lunch one day at work came to $6.66. Tacked the receipt up on the wall of my cubicle. :)

  • Sven2547

    Her religious beliefs, and her adherence to them, have cheated her out of that chance. Nothing else. Thanks, Christianity, for messing up this girl’s race.

  • monyNH

    Too bad Ms. Thacker wasn’t up on her biblical scholarship: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11134/beasts-real-mark-devalued-to-616
    (I had originally heard this on Radiolab, http://www.radiolab.org/story/91517-the-greatest-hits-of-ancient-garbage/ )

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      I’ve read that both 666 and 616 represent Nero. The difference in the number apparently depends on which language the name is transliterated from.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        In both Greek and Hebrew, numbers were assigned to letters (like Roman numerals…well not exactly but kind of). So you could “add up the letters of a name” and get a number. Most non-fundie scholars believe that Revelations is about current events of the time and that the anti-Christ is Nero. Personally I think John ate the funny mushrooms there on the Isle of Patmos.

    • Mick

      She should have prayed to Jesus. He could have told her that 616 is the one to worry about.

  • Rain

    Boy will they all feel stupid when they realize it’s upside down. Duh! You’re welcome.

  • Sids

    “the Kentucky High School Athletic Association now says they would have changed the number if they knew Thacker’s reasons were religiously-motivated”

    Is anyone else bothered by this bit? Why should the religiosity of a reason matter? Is doing it for religious reasons better than, for instance, because a brother had died on the 6th June 2006?

    As for why not to do it, it’s quite possible that there is a fair bit of administration keeping the numbers sorted. Eg, there may be timing chips programmed to the numbers and it would be problematic to fix it all up in the database and such, especially if everyone has a right to change their number right before the race (a very busy time for organisers).

    • Lando

      I’m a jesustologist-we don’t believe in whole numbers, so imma need a fraction up in here

    • Stev84

      Yeah, what about an Asian student who doesn’t like the number 4?


    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      I have to admit, if I had been in charge, I’d have just given her a different number. There are some fights against the crazy that are just more trouble than they are worth, and this would be one of them.

  • DoctorDJ

    Turn the damned thing upside down! I’m sure The Beast can’t understand the meaning of “999.”

    • mandas

      It’s not the beast who you have to worry about over ’999′ – it’s Herman Cain.

      • baal

        And the default for the tax settings in SimCity4.

  • anniewhoo

    With her line of thinking, wouldn’t she already be marked just by randomly being given the number in the first place? I do feel bad for the young woman, but I also hope that as she reflects on this event she will realize how silly the whole thing was.

    Incidentally, I like to run on the treadmill until I burn 666 calories. No reason other than it pushes me to my current limit… and it’s a nice looking number.

  • C Peterson

    Good riddance. Society has no obligation to accommodate the beliefs of everyone with a crazy or absurd belief. If this woman can’t live within her culture, she can withdraw from it.

    • Jeff See

      This ‘woman’ was a teenager, a junior, in high school. One who has, undoubtedly, undergone a life time of indoctrination, and is fully vetted with a consuming fear of Satan, and Hell, and a healthy dose of fear of the God she’s ‘chosen’ to subjugate herself to. That was a very real, very serious, threat, to her, and her ever elusive soul.

      I think a touch of empathy, in this case, might not hurt. If this kid withdraws from society, then humanity will have lost another one to the vice of belief. If someone else would have simply traded her numbers, so she could watch that person then continue to live without fear of the imaginary, imagine the thought processes she may have had regarding the whole issue?

      I’m all about letting those who stubbornly refuse to see any other viewpoint other than their religious beliefs, wallow in them until their time is done. But this child wasn’t acting out of stubbornness or out of a desire for confrontation; she was afraid. I do not think she warranted vitriol.

      • Heather Davis

        “If someone else would have simply traded her numbers, so she could watch that person then continue to live without fear of the imaginary, imagine the thought processes she may have had regarding the whole issue?”

        Oh my God this person WANTS the Devil’s number! He must be an agent of the Devil! This whole race has been infiltrated by the enemy! Everyone here is damned!

        If this girl was as hardcore nut as a girl I went to school with, the above would have been the jest of it.

        • Jeff See

          That actually gave me a chuckle! And yeah, you’re right.

      • TheG

        Out of curiosity, at what age can someone be held accountable for their bug-nutty beliefs? Obviously, a 6 year old with this kooky krap is indoctrinated and doesn’t know any better. Clearly, a 60 year old can own their BS. Where does a 16 year old fall?

        • ShoeUnited

          It’s really difficult to say with 16. Most children start doubting their religion between 14 and 20. While 16 looks like a sweet spot, they don’t really become an adult and move away from home until they’re 18. Since society considers them an adult at 18, and that is the general age when they move out; I’m willing to mulligan these kinds of things for kids. There’s a lot of atheists out there who didn’t become atheist until they were 18, 20, 30, or 40 or older.

        • Heather Davis

          I use 20 as the cut-off since that’s when you stop being a “teenager.” In theory, you have stepped out from under your parents’ wings and have been taking adult matters like voting seriously for at least a couple years.

      • C Peterson

        Until we can figure out a way to prevent children from being indoctrinated in religion by their parents, this will happen. I don’t believe in legal freedom of religion as it currently exists, but neither do I have the slightest idea how to curtail it without creating all manner of undesirable consequences.

        The reality is, some kids will be damaged by the way they are raised. That is unfortunate, but it is how things are. It doesn’t mean that society has to adjust how it operates, however, just to accommodate that damage.

        • Jeff See

          I agree. However, society gave her no quarter; she ended up withdrawing because they would not reassign her number.

          Had they reassigned it, due to religious reasons, then they would have failed, in the way you described. I’m glad they did not.

  • A3Kr0n

    Yes, God is testing her by making her choose between Him, and her athletics which she loves dearly. What a perfect example of a loving and compassionate God!?

    • The Other Weirdo

      Why not? God once told a man to murder his only son whom he loved very much and suffered for years of not being able to father one because God himself wouldn’t let him. So, par for the course.

  • koseighty

    Actually, this is a common misconception.

    666 is the AREA CODE of the Beast — His actual number is unlisted.

    • pirate_froglet

      I’m sorry. I cannot upvote your comment, as it is currently sitting at 6, and to change that would defeat the purpose of this whole discussion!

      • JT Rager

        His likes jumped to 8, so I changed yours from 5 to 6.

        HAIL SATAN!

        • invivoMark

          Clearly, the only workable solution at this point is to get at least one of these posts up to 66.

      • steveschlicht

        You’re at 13…what to do, what to do?


    • McAtheist

      And 667? The neighbour of the Beast

      • Chuck Farley

        667 lives across the street. 668 is the true neighbor of the beast! (also 664)

      • Theresa Varghese

        Touche McAtheist!

      • pirate_froglet

        I saw a short film once with Matt Frewer, called 6ix. Guy wakes up and checks on his baby boy, only to find a 666 burn/tattoo behind his ear. Naturally he starts freaking out. You should look for it to find out what happens. It’s awesome.

  • unclemike

    I used to work with someone who cut up and returned her new JC Penney credit card because it included “666″ in the account number.

    She was also the person who, after sneezing, would rush to the nearest coworker and beg them to bless her. She only asked me once. I said “No. And now demons will eat your soul.”

    Oh, the look on her face.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      When I changed banks a few years ago, I received a shiny new debit card with 666 for the security code on the back. I was delighted. Then the bank screwed up my account, and had to issue a new card. I lost my sixes before I ever got to use them.

      That sneezing story is plain crazy. I’m glad you denied her. Were you ever tempted to secretly sprinkle her with pepper? I would have been.

      • JenniferT

        That wasn’t the bank, it was The Devil.

    • DavidMHart

      I think the best thing to do in that circumstance is to ask, calmly, “What will happen if I don’t?”

    • tubi11

      I used to work for United Airlines’ frequent flier program, and I can recall at least twice when I had to issue a new member a new card because the ID number had 666 in it. This required going in and abandoning their account and then creating a new one. Not a huge deal but it really annoyed me nonetheless.

      And I’ve never had anyone actually ask me to bless them-that’s weird. But I never say anything when people sneeze, or thank others when they do it for me, and I always get odd looks, mostly from my in-laws.

    • Mark W.

      Personally, I would have told her that I was not a properly ordained priest or minister and that any blessings conveyed upon her by people not properly ordained would actually anger God. Then stand back and watch as she squirmed as she remembers all those co-workers that had blessed she previously.

      • Sids

        Or just agree and then say, “oh, dark lord Satan, bless this pitiable creature and protect them from the burning light of heaven.” I’m sure that would go down well.

  • Robster

    What’s this strange little person got with 18? She’ll never play golf.

  • mandas

    She should have asked Herman Cain to sponser her, then turned it upside down.

  • Randy Meyer

    Am I the only one hearing Running With the Devil right now?

    • Jodi Mai

      I’m hearing “Monkey Gone to Heaven” by The Pixes
      “If man is five
      And the devil is six

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    And I can guess how she stands on a number of issues, all important public issues, all because of the fear of one number.

  • LarryCook

    She should have worn it upside down and been 999. She could have lied and said she did it by accident. Lying isn’t against any religious beliefs I know of. None of the ten commandments say, “Thou shalt not lie” although in Catholic school they explained to me that lying was covered under “Thou shalt not steal” because when you lie you steal the truth from those you lie to. Makes sense to me.

    • B Sal Butler

      Yea, like, Christians not breathing is covered under “thou shall not steal” because when they breath they steal oxygen from sane people… Makes sense to me.
      See how you can make stuff up?

    • Ron

      Use the source, Luke. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord—just like geh butt seks, seafood platters and running into mischief.

  • Bob Becker

    Amazing that so many here missed the plain meaning of what happened: clearly god did not want her to run in that race. Her withdrawl wasn’t the result of hard-hearted race officials or the luck of the draw on numbers. It was clearly god’s will at work. How can you all not see that? [grin]

    • Sids

      Or is her god telling her that she should give up running altogether? If she keeps competing next year, will she be spitting in her gods face? If only ze was powerful enough to convey clear messages.

  • Compuholic

    I always use 666 to initialize random number generators. I think it is a fitting symbol for this purpose.

  • Mikko

    What if she gets the same number next year ?

    • Sids

      Then she’ll ‘know’ that the devil is after her soul!

  • BrotherGilburt

    That would have been the perfectly opportunity to don a cheesy Satan costume. QQ Damn you religion!

  • TheShadow

    I feel for a satanist runner who gets bib 777.

  • Lurker111

    Pyrrhic skirmish, anyone? The run organizers knew this sort of thing would likely happen and should not have issued 666 to begin with. Now it just gives the Christians more fuel for their sense of being discriminated against. Not worth it.

    • Lorne Dmitruk

      Maybe the race organizers should make sure they don’t issue unlucky numbers also. Wouldn’t want to discriminate against numerologists.

      • Lurker111

        I see your point, but obscure numerologists don’t have the platform Christians do.

        • B Sal Butler

          And that is the problem… special treatment is assumed because of the number of believers. That sense of privilege is disgusting.

        • The Other Weirdo

          Obscure numerologists? There is no floor 13 any building in Canada I’ve ever lived in. I heard there is no floor 4 in areas where the Chinese are prevalent. Should all of these be taken into account when producing sequential numbers to identify people in a race?

          • Cincinatheist

            Every building 13 floors or taller has a 13th floor. Just because they don’t label it the 13th floor doesn’t mean it isn’t the 13th floor. ;-)

            • The Other Weirdo

              No, really? That’s an amazing revelation, miraculous even. Praise be to the Ancient, Evil Ones.

  • Lorne Dmitruk

    Codie’s the kind of person who suffers from their religion.

  • David McNerney

    I hadn’t given that Wikipedia page a thorough looking at before, but… Nero dies in AD 68, Christians don’t like him, Revelations is written after this event, and the number happens to coincide with Nero’s name numbers.

    Seriously, (Christian) people – you think there’s a beast coming to get us… not that Christians used to (and still are) engaged in demonizing political figures.

  • steveschlicht

    I would have never left #13′s side during the entire race.

    Think of how many runners would have gotten out of our way!

  • LeftyFPB

    During my zombie sheep days in an independent Baptist church, we were told to give the cashier an extra penny if our purchases of “Skoal, Arra-C and Moon Pahs” totaled $6.66.

    Later, I found a news post about some preacher saying not to buy Apple products because the original Apple 1 sold for $666. Once the computer geeks found the post, the comments section were flooded with things like “Don’t use ‘chmod 666,’ or all your files will go to hell!”

    • Ron

      Yep. Your system spawns daemons and everything gets forked.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    John, the Divine (not to be confused with the other Johns who supposedly wrote things in the Bible) who wrote Revelations had never seen arabic numerals. I wouldn’t have recognized 666 as having any meaning at all.

  • smh

    Dropping out of a race over a bib number? That girl doesn’t look so religious. I bet she just realized she wouldn’t win and wanted to bow out in a way that wouldn’t make her look like a coward.

  • God’s Starship

    I agree with everyone that she’s a dumb superstitious kid, and the problem could easily be avoided by not being a dumb kid — but not knowing all the details of cross country rules, I don’t understand why the officials couldn’t just give her a new number, just to get her off their back. It’s not like it’s her social security number and she’s stuck with it her whole life.

    • FTP_LTR

      Without knowing all the fine details of arrangements and timing, my guess is that they don’t want to set a precedent and open negotiations.

      I don’t want 666… I don’t want anything with a 13… I don’t want anything that adds up to 13… I don’t want anything with a 4… I want 888. My BG/GF/BFF and I want consecutive numbers… I want a number higher than his/hers… I want a lower number… I want a higher number… I want the same number as last year… I want a different number to last year… I want a prime number… I want an irrational number… I want pi… I want (specific number)… I demand his/her number… I want a new number, the race isn’t for another hour.. another ten minutes… another minute… you let him change his number, why can’t I?

      Easier to say “Take your number, you’re not in kindy” than to set the expectation that you can pick a number.

      • Sids

        It’s not like race organisers dealing with at least 666 (possibly thousands) young kids coming in from throughout the region, and trying to keep everything to schedule and avoid injuries could possibly have more important things to deal with.

  • Lord Incaros

    I’m not a Christian and I have issues with 666. Its kinda like 13. A lot of people consider it bad luck due to “air” around it. Ironicly, I once heard of a priest who thought the whole 666 thing was silly, so he actually had it put on his license plate. Not sure how true that story is as I can’t remember the source, but I DO remember pictures.

  • http://yogscast.wikia.com/wiki/User:Supertoastfairy Supertoastfairy

    There are few numbers that I would find amusing to have on me during a race:
    666 – The Beast’s Mark
    123 – It’s in order

  • Tobias 27772

    667 – Neighbor to the Beast

  • Mr. Two

    I once bought a car where the final 3 digits came to 666, and when the salesman told me the final price on the phone he mumbled the price. It turns out he was afraid I might back out. He actually had a couple back out of a deal because the three numbers appeared in the price together, even though it was a 5 digit number. He offered to drop the price by a dollar, but it was too late.

    In my church we were always told that the numbers didn’t mean anything in random places, that it was simply a way of saying that the “beast” had three strikes against it: 7 being the perfect number, the beast had come up short 3 times. I’m constantly amazed at how much more superstitious people seem to be today than they were just 30 years ago. Maybe it’s just a divergence: Fewer people are superstitious, so the ones that remain so are becoming more-so. Religion gasping for its last breath or something.

  • Carmen

    When we give reasons for our actions, we often seek to put them in simple terms that are easily understandable to those around us, terms that perhaps put us in a more favourable light than other alternatives. If someone is from a religious community or family, it’s not particularly surprising that those terms should be religious. What can be reasonably inferred from her statement, without knowing her or her context, is very limited.

  • SansDeus

    At my first job during lunch I would always purchase a a different combination of three things that always added up to $6.66, but I would only do it when a particular co-worker was working. It started to really freak him out, but he never realized the categories of items always had the same price (including tax and employee discount). So it was simple to get them to add up every time. Though his grasp on christian beliefs was a lot stronger than his grasp of simple math.

    I was also always assigned 13 in school growing up, just because of how my last name always seemed to fall. So I adopted it as my own lucky number.

    • islandbrewer

      It’s obvious that a Mountain Dew, Beef Jerky, and a Tuna Sandwich is a lunch of the Devil!

      • SansDeus

        If not the devil’s lunch, it’ll give you the devil’s breath. ;)

  • Brad

    She could have worn her bib upside-down.

  • LesterBallard

    Usually I’m angry at stupid shit, but this just makes me sad.

  • Spectrall

    If someone told me I had the mark of the beast while I was running, I’d assume it was a compliment!

  • JA

    My student ID for a couple online classes I took had 666 in it. In fact, it was one number off from being a palindrome.

  • curtcameron

    Last year at the Collin Classic bike ride (yes, here in Texas), I was registering and the lady was about to hand me a number like 632, and I interrupted her and asked if I could have 666. Not a problem. She did comment that some people wouldn’t want it. I got a few comments during the ride, but as far as I know no one freaked.

  • Dennis Vander Houwen

    I assume as well that she was also not wearing clothing of mixed fibers.

  • http://danieltuttle.com/ Daniel

    Didn’t someone discover that 616 is actually the number of the beast?

    • islandbrewer

      I thought it was 14.

      Wait, no, 15!

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty


  • John

    I read some years ago that the Number of the Beast is another mistranslation of the Bible. The actual number is 606, or 616 in some sources. It amuses me that Christians are getting the REAL number of the Beast all the time and not recognizing it! Isn’t that one of Satan’s chief strengths?

    • Sids

      If we can’t be sure, we’ll probably have to just abandon all numbers.

      Hmm, could that explain the maths illiteracy in the Western world?

  • arestyr

    I don’t know why there’s so much snarky sarcasm going on here. Tons of people in general and competitors / athletes have weird superstitions all over the place. Budweiser even has an ad campaign going on superstitions. So the Red Sox don’t shave their beards… I think they are making a poor fashion choice, but I get the superstition behind it, and I don’t believe the athletes are inherently stupid because they do it. When I was a debater in high school, I listened to the same song before every round after listening to it at a tournament I was particularly successful at…

    The group should have just given her a different number. There’s no harm in that.