Boston Marathon Review: Did Qualifier for 2016 and 2017 Boston Marathon Cut The Course in Philly?


A runner was identified in my ongoing 2016 Boston Marathon Review that has a questionable qualifying time obtained at the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon. This runner also has a qualifying time for 2017 Boston that was also obtained in the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon.

2016 Boston Marathon Time: 5:03:02

2014 Philadelphia Marathon Time 3:39:04 (Used as Boston Qualifier)

2015 Philadelphia Marathon Time 3:33:11 (Could be used for 2017 Boston Qualifier)

Review of 2014 Philadelphia Marathon Result

She ran the first 10k at 9:11 pace. She slowed down between the 10k and half marathon, and ran that split at 10:25/mile as seen above.

She missed the 30k split, and finished in 3:39:05. At a pace of 8:21/mi. Which is a faster time than any of the verifiable splits.

She hit the halfway split in a time of 2:08:57 – a pace of 9:50/mile. This would mean that if her result is to be believed, she ran the final 13.1 miles in a time of  1:30:08 – a pace of 6:53 per mile.

Any runner knows, you simply do not run a negative split of 38 minutes at Boston qualifying pace.

Review of 2015 Philadelphia Marathon Result

She ran the first 10k at 9:07 pace. She slowed down between the 10k and half marathon, and ran that split at 10:11/mile as seen above. This is a bit faster than she ran the 2014 marathon to this point.

She again missed the 30k split, and finished in 3:33:11. At a pace of 8:07/mi.

She hit the halfway split in a time of 2:06:59 – a pace of 9:41/mile. This would mean that if her result is to be believed, she ran the final 13.1 miles in a time of  1:26:12 – a pace of 6:35 per mile.

Her times were just a bit faster than in 2014, but the pattern was the same.

Course Map

Looking at the map, you can see that after the 1/2 marathon point, the course is an out and back. It would be easy for someone to cut any portion of this stretch.
The 30K mat (18.64 miles) is before the turnaround. In this runner’s case, she would have had to cut off a minimum of 3 miles – and likely more. 
I do not know if there is an unpublished mat at the turnaround – but based on the fact that this runner’s results did not get automatically flagged, I see this course as a prime target for cheating. A runner that runs 20 minutes slower than their Boston Qualifying standard, could theoretically hit all the published mats, and still cut 3 miles off of the course to register a BQ time.
I am going to do a more thorough analysis of the Philadelphia BQ times from the 2015 race to try to identify anyone that may have cut this course to earn a qualifying time for Boston ’17.

Other Results

She also missed splits in the 2013 Philadelphia marathon – but did not use that time to register for Boston. 

She ran the 2011 Half Marathon in over 4 hours.

Also, her 10 mile paces were over 9 minutes/mile. You typically would not expect someone to run marathons at a faster pace than their 10 mile races. These 10 mile races were at paces consistent to the first splits of her marathons.

I will be reporting these results to the timing company and race officials of the Philadelphia Marathon. If and when they issue disqualifications, I will notify Boston.


  1. It disgusts me that people cheat like this.

    The 10 miler (BSR) is pretty telling. It's a great course to set a PR on.

  2. I would have sworn there was a mat at the turnaround when I ran this in 2015. I was about 3 minutes over a BQ, so if it's possible for me to save a bit next time, that would be helpful. (I kid, I kid.)

  3. I'm not 100%, because by the time I reached the turn around at Philly in 2015 my all consuming thought was that I would finally have a tailwind after 7 brutal miles, but I'm pretty sure there was a mat within half a mile of the turn around.

  4. I ran the Philly marathon in 2015 and you are correct, that last out and back portion would be easy for someone to cut. I hope they end up disqualifying her and/or putting more mats out on that portion of the course.

  5. The Philly Marathon is a cheater's ideal course. The previous race director knew and did nothing about. It has a new RD now so maybe you'll get a response.

  6. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2015 along with a friend. My data also does not show a time for the 30k checkpoint. I assure you that I did run the entire race and crossed the 30k checkpoint. My friend on the other hand runs about a 9 minute per mile pace. According to her data, she had a pace between the 1/2 way mark and the 30k mark of 12:45! It then showed that she had a pace of 5:58 between the 30k mark and the finish. If you look at the data for many other runners in this race, you'll see that a lot of them never had a time for the 30k mark, and a lot of runners also had a really slow pace between the 1/2 and 30k followed by a really fast pace between the 30k and finish! Philadelphia definitely had a timing issue at the 30k mark! My friend is 52 years old and has been running since she was 16. This is the first time that she qualified for Boston! We worked REALLY hard preparing for the Philly race and I assure you that she finished the race honestly and in a qualifying time. Boston is now challenging her data from Philly and it looks like she isn't going to be allowed to run Boston! We are absolutely heartbroken as she earned her place in Boston. Though I can't speak for the runner that you are accusing in this post, there is a very good chance that you might owe her an apology as she is most likely a victim of the Philly timing issue! Sorry for the long post!

  7. The runner profiled above had the same issue 2 years in a row (possibly 3). Also the pace she's run for this marathon is faster than her pace in shorter runs. I am confident in the conclusions regarding this runner.

    If you can, email me your friend's information. I will dig, and see if I can find evidence vindicating them.

  8. Great news! My friend just now received word that they were accepted to run Boston. Here's a reply I got from the BAA regarding the timing issue in Philly:
    "The issue was some runners either missed the 30K mat, or their timing device was not read, then on the return running near it at 21.1 miles the timing device got read there.
    This caused yours, and other some participants, splits to look ‘off’."
    BAA showed a lot of class in the way that they handled this situation. Hat's off to them!

  9. This runner again had the same problem of being missed at the 30km timing mat for the fourth consecutive year at the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon. This year they had a negative split of 55 minutes. Look at the record for bib number 6003.

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