Below is the Rock N’ Roll Arizona course map.
There are mats at 10k, 13.1 miles, and 20 miles. There are no published mats on the out and back section that covers about 7 miles. Multiple runners have confirmed that they do not recall a timing mat on this section, With the lack of a published mat on this stretch, it makes it very difficult to determine those that cut the course with 100% certainty.
There were quite a few missed mats, but only a handful of those had seemingly impossible splits. Looking at the map, the only real opportunity to cut the course is on the out and back portion from mile 13 to 20.
Instead of starting with missed mats, I started by comparing the Boston qualifying runners splits – looking for runners that had the fastest splits between 13.1 and 20 relative to their overall performance.
Total Finishers: 2334
Total Boston Qualifiers: 196
Since my initial sample was relatively small (196 Boston Qualifiers), I first started by filtering all runners that ran the section of 13.1 to 20 faster than their first 10k pace and faster than their overall pace.
37 Boston qualifying runners ran this split faster than both the first split and their overall pace. I went through photos and analyzed the splits for these. There was one true outlier in this group. It is worth noting that it would have definitely been possible for the others to have cut this section and go undetected – without a mat being missed..if they registered fairly even splits,
57 Year Old Male – 1st in Age Group – Personal Record and BQ – UPDATE – DISQUALIFIED2017 RNR Arizona Marathon
- 10K 59:20 9:34 per mile pace overall
- 13.1M 1:44:00 7:56 per mile / 6:28 split pace
- 20M 2:28:31 7:26 per mile / 6:27 split pace
- 26.2M 3:08:31 7:12 per mile / 6:27 split pace
This runner had a very similar pattern in the 2016 RNR Arizona Marathon.
Other reasons to question this runner’s times
- No photos other than in the finish line area. I checked through the untagged photos and did not find one that appeared to be this runner. He also has no photos outside of the finish area for 2016 despite his bib being visible in the photos in the finish area during both races.
- His best time at a major marathon was 4:15:28 in Boston 2009. His fastest times are all at RNR Arizona Marathons.
The splits that he seemingly registered outside of the out and back area after the 1st 10k are paces that are faster than his historical races would predict. This runner is a great example as to why there should be a mat at the furthest point.His result jumped out because you simply do not often see a runner starting the 1st 10k at a pace 1:30 minutes slower than what they run for the next 20 miles.
If anyone has any specific experience or witnessed anything in regards to this runner, contact the RNR Marathon or you can email me, and I will pass the information along.
Additionally, there were a few runners with missed splits and Boston Qualifying times. This runner missed all the mats and is still in the official results.
53 Year old Male – Boston Qualifier 3:27:36. UPDATE – DISQUALIFIED
This runner has a suspicious race history as well.
In 2014, he missed all the splits except for the 24 mile mat in Baltimore on the way to a 3:35:36. Most other marathons are over 6 hours.
Lastly, I feel compelled to mention that two of the most prolific course cutters showed up at RNR Arizona.
Jeff did not appear in any official photos, but I stumbled onto a photo of him when looking for the first runner I profiled. Jeff ran a 4:44:12, but missed the 13.1 mat. This would indicate that he just skipped the entire out and back section..despite that, I managed to find him in more photos than the first runner.
Richard only registered at the 20 mile mat. He hit this mat at 2:56:32, He finished in 4:54:36. At least he is not registering age group wins and Boston qualifying times in his last couple of efforts.
There were only a handful of runners that I can pick out as obvious course cutters. With the absence of a mat on the easiest to cut portions, there very well could have been a runner that cut a mile or 2 to get their BQ.
You can see from the above map, where there is not only the opportunity to cut the entire portion after the 1/2 mat..but there are multiple opportunities to cut smaller chunks off of the course if you only needed to gain a few minutes.