Boston 2016 – Wild Mountain Runners Club – A Single Member Ran Qualifying Times for 3 Different Runners

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A runner contacted me  regarding the Wild Mountain Runners Club. He was going through some photos and noticed a runner that seemed out of place, he determined he was a runner of Wild Mountain Runners Club and checked for the other runners in Boston and found evidence that 3 of the runners had questionable qualifiers.
By that time, I had already uploaded Boston 2016 results, and had my initial list of flagged runners. Initially, the list is at 1693 runners to review (I still will be using additional criteria to narrow down that list).
3 of the bib #s in the picture were very high on the list as it is currently prioritized. None of the others were marked for review.

#3 –  Bib # 1895 – 2:52:52 qualifying time – Long Beach 2014. 6:01:59 Boston time

#8 –  Bib # 5139 – 3:01:54 qualifying time – Orange County 2015. 5:47:30 Boston time

#70– Bib # 3910 – 2:59:02 qualifying time –  Surf City 2015.  4:45:21 Boston time

 

The next step was to confirm their qualifying marathons through their photos. Below are their photos for each of the qualifiers.
Boston Runner #5139 Qualifier
Boston Runner #1895 Qualifier
Boston Runner #3910 Qualifier

A single runner ran qualifying times for 3 different group members. It is also worth noting that the qualifying time for Boston bib #5139 was an age group win in the 55-59 year old group.

The runner that ran the qualifying races has been identified.

There are also instances within this group where BQ’s were earned illegitimately for prior years.

I also hope this is a good example of why I flag the results in the way I do. I know that not all flagged runners cheated. This is just the best way to limit the # of results to check. The theory is that those that cheat are not capable to run BQ times on their own – so we look at those that run significantly slower in Boston than the BQ to at least identify those runners.

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72 COMMENTS

  1. If true, this is truly unsportsmanlike with the running club involvement. This should make national running news. No wonder you have to run 3:00 minutes under BQ time now.

  2. Wow. This train wreck keeps getting worse. Thanks for doing this.

    The Wild Mountain FB page seems to be either non-public or deleted now. A few things show up in Google cache, but good thing you got a screenshot.

  3. They could have gotten away with it if they weren't so greedy. The Boston Qualifier for 55-59 is 3:40. Hitting USATF Performance Guidelines with fake "qualifiers" only puts these guys at the top of the list to be investigated. Red bibs are out of place on these guys. Nobody would question blue bibs on the two older runners. The young guy was gonna get caught. No way around it. He ran over twice as slow as the time he needed to get in.

  4. Probably would have been reviewed eventually. But I agree, if they had been in the later corrals, I would not have received a tip – and likely never would have caught the running club connection.

  5. I'm one of those that ran a qualifier 2 minutes under the BQ time, but the cutoff for Boston 2016 ended up being ~2min30sec. Wonder how many cheaters got a spot when I missed out. Thanks for sussing these bib impersonators out.

  6. I qualified 93 seconds faster than BQ time, and I too missed the cutoff. Don't these people understand that they are stealing spots from people who have sacrificed and trained for YEARS to qualify for this event?! I'm also surprised at the number of "net downhill" marathons that are now accepted as qualifying races.

  7. Nice work! Just a minor quibble. I think you have the year wrong for Bib # 5139. OC Marathon is in May right? It wouldn't be able to be used for a 2016 BQ entry.

  8. Not only that, but for faster runners, wave 1 red bibs are a big deal. They took prime spots, and bumped deserving runners to wave 2!

  9. Good job.

    One thing I would be careful about for Boston 2016. Because it was so hot many fast runners got into a bit of trouble, crashed, and limped in. Others realized early it was going to be trouble and slowed down to enjoy the day.

    One friend of mine qualified with a BQ-40 and ran a time this year that almost doubled her qualifying time! The result of spending a bit of time in the med tent.

    Something to consider.

  10. Yes, times were overall slower. It is looking like we will be looking at 30% or 35% variance in times vs last year's 20% mark.

  11. You are doing EXCELLENT work. Those of us who train hard and legitimately qualify THANK YOU for your efforts. If only the BAA would do simple things like scanning chips to identify fake bibs on the way in and before the medals! It wouldn't have caught these morons but it would catch plenty of other cheaters!

  12. thank you for doing this! It is very disheartening to me as I only have a 46 second cushion BQ time and know I won't get in next year. I would never cheat and am not quite sure how these people live with themselves…they are taking deserving spots away from others.

  13. Before the entire Wild Mountain Runner gets condemned, the entire club did not participate in cheating. A quick Facebook search and you will see that members of the club are as pissed, if not more, then us outsiders. It appears it was at least 4 members of the club.

    Now that's out of the way, every person that cheats in this way should be banned 1 year from racing for 1st offense and lifetime ban for 2nd offense. If no one gets bans, then what's the recourse for someone that engages in this type of cheating?

    Marathon Investigation keep up the great work.
    To the club members of Wild Mountain Runners that didn't cheat, now is the time to kick out all known cheaters.
    To the club members that did cheat, go seek professional counseling because obviously each of you have severe self-esteem issues.

  14. Fair point. I reached out to the club. No one responded and they closed the FB page. I will publish any statement they wish to make.

  15. This also illustrates the consequences of bandying a qualifying race. A lot of runners think that it is harmless to use a bib that somebody else ends up not being able to use, after all they paid, right? But if you are a fast runner they can use your time to qualify for a high demand race like Boston. It sounds like you are saying this has happened many times with this running group so I guess there was a whole conspiracy to it. But I just wanted to point it out even if someone innocently thought it was ok to bandit this is one of the consequences.

  16. Believe it or not, that's the default template. I will try to fix. for me it's oknon chrome, but mobile is hard to read the comments.

  17. Boston has a net elevation loss of 477. Net elevation loss marathons have their own challenges. One must train well to not trash their quads.

  18. Lol! I remember this guy. We were neck and neck for the first 7 miles or so at surf city until he faded… He was breathing pretty damn hard and I was impressed at how fast his turnover was.

  19. I say a lifetime ban for first offenses. These people knew exactly what they were doing. This is as bad, imo, as betting on baseball for an MLB player. You're attacking the integrity of the sport and hurting innocent runners who worked their asses off to legitimately qualify for Boston.

    Ultimately, a lifetime ban is unenforceable, but at the very least all marathons involved (including Boston) should ban these losers for life.

  20. I'm confused. Is your current threshold 20 minutes or 20%? Percentages result in a much more generous cushion and don't depend so much on absolute time – for example, 20% of a 3:00 seed time would be 36 minutes (or a 1:22 slowdown per mile).

    Yes, the heat was a major factor this year. Almost everyone I know was at least 10 minutes off the mark. I was almost 19 minutes slower than my seed time, which equates to 11.5%. Also, please consider that relative marathon newbies like myself can have huge variances in performance (3:29, 2:53, 2:44 and 3:02 … the worst being my first try where I bonked hard at mile 20 and the best being where I managed to run every step of the way in cool weather) … In contrast my half marathons have only varied from 1:12 to 1:16, and even then I felt there were huge differences in my performances.

  21. For 2015 Boston we initially pulled the list by looking at runners that finished 20 minutes over their BQ time. But we sorted by percentage, and reviewed down to 20% differential.

    2016 times were slower. The threshold will likely be 30-35%

    We will also adjust to account for the qualifying course.

  22. I qualified at Fargo. I ran a 3:10:36. I ran Boston this year and ran a 3:28:20. I am in the 45-49 AG. Don't flag me. I purposely ran 8:00/miles. I was just out there for fun.

  23. Given that the club posted the runners' bibs with the low numbers on its Facebook page (which is now shut down) I would say at the very least it's pretty likely that the club leaders are aware of what these guys are really capable of running (not sub-3 BQ marathons).

  24. I can't imagine wanting to run Boston without legitimately qualifying. I worked hard to get in this year. The balls of these guys to cheat, line up in the first corral then run five plus hours.

  25. I already know I will probably get flagged on your 2016 list. But based on how you assess, I have zero worry that you will find anything suspect on my results. I caught every split in both the qualifier and this year's Boston and photo proof along the entire course for both races is available. Those who ran a much slower race in Boston than qualifier this year but did it legitimately should have zero concerns and support this effort.

    I appreciate all you are doing to make this a more honest race. And I am sorry for everyone who missed a spot in Boston because of cheating, it truly is a shame and there is no pride to be had for running a race you didn't earn the right to be at through either qualifying or fundraising.

    Keep up the great work!

  26. Good work, I really don't understand why people are willing to go such a long way to get into Boston. For me the allure of the whole process is that you have to qualify, not the race itself. Being European I could simply bought my way into the race via a travel agency, but that was never an option for me – you either qualify or you don't run.

    As a side note, I am pretty sure that I am on your list of dubious Boston results, bib #6521. Qualified in spring 2015 with a 3:06 (second marathon ever, first on was 3:15), but injured myself (PF) during my fall 2015 marathon. I still limbed that one to the end which gave me 3:3x finish time, but was injured and unable to run from November till early April 2016. I started Boston with a red bib but after 25km my quads were completely trashed due to my lack of training, so I walked it in in 4:19.

  27. Yeah I took that in to account, but they're both from the same running club (notice the singlet) and somehow the same age. It seems like the older members of this club have a few anomalous performances in marathons in which they avoid having any race photos taken. In some cases they won their age groups.

  28. I've been following your posts and just a short time after reading this, I was reviewing my race photos from Leona Divide. Lo and behold, the runner identified above had finish line photos right behind me. I mostly noticed because the photographer took an extra picture of him in his Wild Mountain Runners' Boston 2013 shirt.
    I've seen him other times too. It's just not right to steal those qualifying slots for those who didn't earn it.

  29. Yeah, I noticed how the red bib qualifying times changed this year… so drastic from even 2 years ago. A red bib was w/in my reach back then, but not now.

    I also have a few friends who missed the 2:30 cut-off by seconds…. they were certainly deserving. it's sad.

  30. The two older guys are a red flag… no pun intended. You just don't see many guys in their 50s-60s in the red wave w/ their knees all taped up.

  31. That is very fair; I shouldn't have condemned the whole club. In fact I bet it's highly likely that they contributed to these cheaters getting caught.

  32. It was a Faebook Group not a Facebook Page. The difference is that in a FB Group anybody that joins the group can post. In a FB Page only admins can post. So no it's not a "given", the club should not be persecuted for what the 3 cheaters did. Also There's no money in running clubs, this club doesnt even have sponsors, it seems like its an all volunteer running enthusiasts group. They probably have families, full time jobs that are way higher priority then dealing with crazy people accusing their running club of cheating so I'd do the same thing they did, not worth the extra drama and delete the Facebook Group. So just chill foo and go run it off or something.

    regarding the blogger that has taken it upon himself to catch cheaters. It's dirty laundry, it's stalking, its fun and he thinks he is doing it for a good cause … I agree it's good cause, it's a problem that needs addressing BUT there needs to be more sensibility. We runners are nice people and don't like shaming others. I say identify, report anonymously to public and turn in identities to BAA. Stop Shaming people it's so tacky.

  33. It's not just dirty laundry. It's cheating others (nice, as you say) runners out of results of their hard work. I speak as one who BQ'ed but missed the cut off by a little. We run with dignity, with honor and train hard while juggling full time jobs & families. If we don't make the cut so be it, try harder next time. But, if the system is compromised, what do you train harder for?
    I say kudos and thanks for this effort to flag those who don't know meaning of running with honor and completely lack "sensibility" for others hard work.

  34. Ugh, not only did these guys take spots from legitimate qualifiers (obviously the bigger sin), but they also clogged up the (already very congested) course. I must have passed them at some point on my way from a Wave 3 start to a 3:37 finish. Thanks for all of your work to get cheaters out and make room for runners who actually earned the right to run Boston.

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