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Marathon Investigations Investigated

runABC reporter Alan Newman returns to the sad topic of cheating in races

In an ideal world, there should be absolutely no need for the work carried out by Derek Murphy for Marathon Investigation. Sadly, we don't live in an ideal world, and – perish the thought – some runners cheat their way to gain social media kudos, rewards, entry standards, and even charitable donations in long-distance races.

This is a subject that runABC South writer Alan Newman previously visited after the Shenzen Half Marathon in China on 29 November 2018, when 258 competitors were disqualified and banned for life from the event for a host of violations including fake numbers, hired imposters, and even blatantly taking a short-cut of 4kms!

Marathon Investigation has 21,000 followers in their Facebook group so there is a lot of interest in the dark arts of cheating at running and actions that are taken to root out the cheats.

Quite why anyone would lie in order to, for example, gain access to the Boston Marathon with its qualifying standards is beyond the comprehension of this correspondent. Surely, the risk of being found out is high with modern technology and even if someone succeeded they are only going to suffer humiliation at a later date/future event when their true capability is exposed.

One successful investigation looked at the Boston qualifying times of Stephanie Acre who recorded 4:02:19 (2021) and 3:48:40 (2022) in the BMW Berlin Marathon. In the Boston Marathon, she ran 6:01:56 (2021) and 5:41:10 (2022). Now we can all have a bad day at the office but a closer examination of Stephanie's Berlin results revealed an identical pattern with the same seven splits missing and only the first 5K and the final 40K and Finish Line times being recorded!

Some runners blame race technology and/or their own devices for aberrations in their results. One such example was uncovered last year in a 100-mile race on the Badger Trail between Belleville, Wisconsin and Orangeville, Illinois, USA. Tony Jensen claimed second place with 20:47:41 after slowing dramatically at the 39-mile checkpoint from 9:18/mile at 10 miles to 21:11/mile at 39 miles, at which point he was lying 43rd overall.

In an apparently miraculous renaissance, Tony 'overtook' more than 40 runners and raised his pace to 11:25 for the remaining 62 miles. Sadly, his chip 'failed' at all intermediate checkpoints beyond 39 miles but miraculously sprang back into life at the finish. What Tony didn't know was that his chip had been electronically picked up 30 miles away from the actual course and the Race Director, Scott Kummer, was a former host of The Marathon Investigations Podcast!

Photo by Miguel Amutio on Unsplash

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