This is a follow up to the article I posted on May 27th. Vermont City Marathon 2013 and 2015 – 3 girls – 1 bib. The quick summary is that I noticed the missed splits from this runner’s results, and checked the photos. I realized that there were 3 different females wearing the same bib. So it quickly bacame apparent that they ran some or all of the course as a relay.
I have been in contact with Joe-Connelly, the RunVermont technical coordinator after posting this story. The following is an email – posted here with the permission of Joe summarizing the entire situation and what actions have been taken by The Vermont City Marathon.
I applaud the Vermont City marathon and Joe for taking this seriously, and I am proud that an article on this blog is noticed and appreciated by at least one marathon. And that despite some RD’s not seeming to care if their results are accurate, this marathon takes it very seriously.
The point of this blog is not to ‘shame’ runners but to make R.Ds aware when we discover questionable results and to hopefully serve as a deterrent to other runners, and to change policy to reduce instances of cheating. This case is a perfect example of why I started this blog. We won’t always get DQ’s, but hopefully through awareness, we can prevent some attempts at course cutting, bib sharing or any other indiscretions.
Below is the email in it’s entirety
After this year’s Vermont City Marathon, it was brought to our attention that a person listed as a marathon finisher had 3 people use his marathon bib who were not the person who purchased the bib. The race staff was able to identify one of the runners using that bib, and contacted her for an explanation. She stated that she had been asked to be on a relay team for this year’s marathon, and had done so without knowing prior to race week that the relay team she was participating on would be using a marathon bib, not a relay bib, to take part in this race. Subsequent to that discussion, the person who purchased the marathon bib contacted the marathon office with an explanation for his actions. He also admitted that he did the same thing in 2013.
The Vermont City Marathon is serious about our responsibility to publish accurate results as well as to conduct our race in a manner that is fair for all competitors and that insures that all who show up in our results as finishers did the full course in accordance with generally accepted race rules. For the last decade at least, we have done extensive review of our results to search for persons listed in our results who did not in fact complete the full course. Our course is a 4-leaf-clover shape, which would provide a number of places where a runner could cut the course. We have chip mats with published splits on 3 of the 4 leafs, plus unpublished mats that we move around year to year, plus our Course Monitors at key locations are trained for what to look out for. When reviewing the results we look for missing splits at any mats and we look for runners with large negative splits. The presence of either of those factors by itself doesn’t guarantee that we remove someone from the results, but it does raise a red flag that we look deeper into that result. Despite all the review we do, there are going to be instances when a person is listed in the results who shouldn’t be. If someone is knowledgeable about a race course, how a race monitors the course, and carefully plans how they want to cut the course, I’d say there isn’t a race around that can stop that person from doing so. A race may be able to limit where and when something can occur, but to 100% eliminate the possibility that someone can cheat a race and get away with it, I don’t see that as a possibility.
In the case of the individual identified on this blog as being listed in the VCM results when in fact he did not finish the full marathon in 2015 and/or 2013, the following steps have been taken:
1. His result for 2015 has been removed from our official results as posted on our website and at Cool Running. We are in the process of contacting Marathon Guide, but are not optimistic that they will make any corrections to our results because when we have written to them in the past they have been unresponsive.
a. For 2013, we’re unable to get online results corrected, but internally we have noted that he is not a finisher
2. We are in the process of sending him a letter notifying him that he and the other people involved are suspended from participating in events our company produces for a period of time. This letter also details steps that need to be taken in order for him or the other people who used his bib to participate in future events that we produce
a. This includes a choice to pay for the marathon bibs used, or to retroactively upgrade to a relay bib
b. All the individuals involved can either sit out a period of time, or they can volunteer on our registration/timing crew to reduce the length of their ban
What actually happened (in 2015, we are choosing to deal with what we know about this year only):
· The individual who bought the bib wanted to take part in our Relay division, not our Marathon division
· Our Relay selects the teams to participate based on a random draw. This year approximately 17% of those who requested a team in the random draw were not selected. This individual’s team was not selected.
· After learning that he was not selected, this individual purchased a Marathon bib. It should be noted that there are a number of ways to get a Relay team if you are not selected in the random draw; we have a number of charity partners who have Relay teams available, plus we allow teams to change hands and even have a message board on our site to facilitate team transfers. For the latter option, the last 2 years we have had more supply than demand close to race day.
· The individual who had the right to use the Marathon bib then organized some family members and friends to run in the race as a Relay team. The individual who the bib was assigned to did not in fact run in VCM this year. It is unclear to us at what time the people actually running in the race became aware that the bib they would be using was not a Relay bib.
· It is also unclear to us who picked up the bib at the Expo. We allow someone to pick up a bib for a friend or family member by showing signed permission to do so.
· The bib was not photocopied or anything like that. The team passed the bib from runner to runner during the race. 2 people who were supposed to run on the team did not show up, so the team only ran legs 1, 4, and 5 of the race. The person running leg 4 waited until other leg 4 runners had started instead of starting up right after the leg 1 runner finished. The legs they ran caused them to miss the chip mats at 10k, 10 miles, and the halfway point.
We feel bad that it has come to this. These are good community members who are passionate about running and who volunteer for local organizations. The actions occurred due to a desire to participate in a popular local event that they have participated in many times. The person who purchased the Marathon bib did not do so in the hopes of having the Relay team run a time that qualified him for Boston, that was not a factor at all.
For our part, we are reviewing our Relay selection process and considering potential course changes in the hopes of giving anyone who wishes to take part the chance to purchase a team. We are also revising our practice for how relay packets are prepared, and we’re debating a change to how we allow someone to pick up a bib for someone else.
On a personal note, I want to thank the owner of this blog for bringing this to our attention, and I want to thank those who have left comments for caring to see that races get this kind of thing right. Any follow up question you have, please do not hesitate to ask.
People’s United Bank Vermont City Marathon Technical Coordinator.