Yes, and the law was that you were perfectly entitled to keep them as they were an "unsolicited gift" unless you had signed something to the contrary in your race entry.
Most companies worked on this basis, and just said, "If you keep them without paying we won't send you any more if you do a race we cover again".
I don't see the problem here. You don't want to buy their photos? Just don't buy them. Get a friend to snap you in the park in your kit instead.
For a newbie, doing a big event, it's probably worth buying the pics and savouring the experience.
For regular racers, the fees would soon add up.
Therefore, a bit of copying/page dumping never hurt anyone. I've never seen it in any small print that they "own" my image, so as it's me, I'll have it!
To be able to get good photographs consistently, it needs good kit. A typical sports lens would cost in the region of £3000 - £8000, camera another grand. I could understanbd someone being pee'd off if they were unable to recoup their investment in that lot.
That being said, posting full resolution, non-watermarked images is just asking for trouble.
I think the outfits doing the big marathons are certainly charging a heavy premium because of the number of 'tourist' runners who want a high quality momento of the occasion. Us regular runners just get caught in the same trawler net. Smaller racers will often have keen amateurs who will take and sell pics for free or very low cost. I'd buy a pic from them.
Having been injured recently, I've specifically gone to a couple of races to take photographs and have posted them all for free afterwards. Here's some examples if you like to see a few happy runners.
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