The Digits ‘666’ Cause Cross Country Runner to Pull Out of Championship Race

Some call it one of the ‘strangest cases’ of religious beliefs to involve a student at odds with an extracurricular high school activity, but is it really that hard to understand why a youth would object to running in a race with the number ‘666’ pinned to their body? That’s what happened to Codie Thacker, who voluntarily forfeited her place in a regional championship race after her coach drew a bib for the runner with the digits ‘666.’

Codie Thacker is a cross country runner from Kentucky, who was to represent her school Whitley County High (from Whitley County) in a regional championship race. She is appearing in the news for saying the number ‘666’ conflicted with her Christian beliefs so much so that she dropped out of a race because of it. By walking away, Thacker gave up a chance to qualify for the state meet that she had worked so hard to dominate. As soon as Thacker’s coach, Gina Croley, saw the number to be assigned to her runner, she immediately responded with a ‘whoa’ and knew that the high schooler would not wear the number.

Upon receiving the number, Thacker and her coach attempted to make a case for why she should be permitted to switch her number, but race officials declined their request. In an attempt to fan the flames that have erupted from widespread public attention, race officials later denied that Thacker claimed she needed to change her bib number for religious purposes. However, the runner is insistent that she explicitly made it clear to officials of her intentions to change bib numbers. In her eyes, running with ‘666’ across her chest would seriously go against the way she embraces her faith.

In an interview with the Lexington NBC affiliate LEX18, Thacker told reporters that she didn’t want to jeopardize her relationship with God by accepting the number she was given. She also said that she asked officials to mark out her name because the very thought of having her name associated with ‘666’ had a sickening effect on her. Despite training aggressively for the regional championship race since June, Thacker will once again fall short of making it to the state meet – the third straight season this has happened to the cross country runner.

While some view Thacker’s choice to back out of the race due to three little numbers as being ridiculous, why is it so hard to accept? ‘666’ is widely known as the ‘Number of the Beast’ and is often linked to Satan and the Devil. It’s a number that really does strike a chord in both the religious and non-religious. At the very least, some will view the number as being unlucky and take measures to avoid it.

People have sidestepped purchasing residences and buildings for businesses with a street address that incorporates ‘666.’ When U.S. President Ronald Reagan moved into a private house towards the end of his presidency, he had the street number changed from 666 to 668. A handful of people actually have a real phobia of the number – it’s called ‘Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.’ In certain regions, highways formerly numbered 666 have been renumbered due to the public’s dislike for the digits.

Thacker is also not the only person to make headlines for her religious beliefs regarding ‘666’ – not too long ago, a Tennessee man quit his job when he was assigned a W-2 form that was stamped with ‘Satan’s number.’ Walter Slonopas stated that going back to his job would send a message that he chose cash over Christianity, saying that ‘God is worth more than money.’ And in Thacker’s case, it certainly means more to her than winning a regional championship race.