Runner Caught Using Bib Mule at 2016 New York City Marathon in Boston Qualifying Attempt


Leading up to The 2016 New York City marathon, Cindy made lots of posts on social media. She posted about her preparation, and her hydration and posted a picture of her gels, etc..for the day of the marathon. The only issue is, she didn’t actually run the marathon. Or, if she did, she did not run it wearing her bib.

She posted a picture of her coconut water in the days leading up to the race.

She posted a picture at the expo with her bib.

She posted a picture of her clothes and her gels and snacks for during the race (everything except her bib appear in that photo).

She posted a picture of herself with the medal after the race.

There are no photos of her running the race. However there were photos of a runner wearing her bib. What was left to prove, was that this runner actually was carrying her bib, and not a forgery of her bib.

Proving That She Used a “Bib Mule”

The runner in the photo was wearing Cindy’s bib #. This was not enough to show that he was carrying her actual bib. Cindy posted her bib on social media at the expo. This would have given someone with some Photoshop skills the opportunity to make a copy of this bib, and create a forgery. Unfortunately., this happens quite frequently. Races warn against posting photos with your bib prior to the race.

To prove that this was actually Cindy’s bib, all I had to do was identify another runner in one of the photos with the ‘bib mule’ After identifying the other runner in the photo accompanying Cindy’s bib, I saw that the runner finished 1 second behind what was Cindy’s finishing time. Finish line photos – which are tagged based on time showed both of these runners in frame. The real Cindy was nowhere to be seen.

Sometime after the screen grabs were taken from marathonfoto, they were no longer tagged to Cindy. If you look for her bib # now, you only see an overhead finish photo.

Her Intention Was To Earn a Boston Qualifying Time

Accompanying her medal photo on Instagram was this text:

So this happened again today. What I love most about running marathons is that it truly does test mental strength that also translates to how we deal with challenges in our everyday lives. Ran my heart out today and left everything on the course. All the training paid off and qualified for the Boston Marathon! ?‍♀️ Amazing things happen when you #believe. Next up: lots of yoga and hibernation!


The Runner Has Been Disqualified

Fortunately, in this case the runner has been disqualified. This is the sort of instance that I would not likely catch on my own until after she would have run Boston. She had no prior marathons in my database. Looking deeper at athlinks, you can see that her half marathon times have been over 2 hours, and do not indicate that she is capable of the 3:17:29 that she was originally credited with.

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  1. I’m sure it’s not him, as that dude races all over the place every weekend, but it kind of looks like the dude from See Dane Run.

    • 95% of people on Instagram and Facebook act fake or ARE fake. I wonder how many people would be interested in certain things if it wasn’t for showing off or trying to show off on these and similar. I kind of feel bad for Cindy though. She is cute and that is one of my favourite names ;o

  2. 6 energy gels, 3 Clif Bloks, 2 Honey Stinger waffles, and two other bars? I don’t know a single 3:17 marathoner who could consume all that during a marathon. That’s a 6-hr marathon nutrition plan. This woman has no shame taking credit for something she clearly didn’t do. I’m glad the NYC Marathon removed her from the results. I hope I don’t bump into her (or her mule) at a future NYRR race.

    • In order to consume all that she’d be eating the whole time! I bet that she would have gone undetected had she not posted on social media. I’m no psychologist, but she is seeking the adoration/validation of her “audience,” which ended up ruining her ruse. She is playing a role, and very poorly at that…as if having the clothes and the gels puts her closer to the real thing. My point is: It is a shame that cheaters cannot be satisfied with the authentic experience that marathon training and race-day running provides. Trying, trying, and trying (and even failing multiple times and/or enduring injuries) to qualify has its rewards, and no cheater is ever going to figure that out. When you are dialed in to running and its mental and physical benefits, you don’t give a sh*t what people on Facebook or Instagram think.

    • Steven…I ran Chicago the last 2 years in under 6 and over 6….I still couldn’t even consume half that much😂😂where do you put all that stuff? 😂😂

      • Maybe that’s why you did it in 6h, Beth. The amount of gels in the picture alone doesn’t say much. She could have taken the picture but changed her mind and didn’t carried that much. She could have carried but not consumed them all. People are different. I just ran a 3:20 marathon during which, I took 5 gels, 2 cliff bars, 2 half banana, and energy drink every 2.5 mi.

  3. I was able to see her Instagram profile before this post gained a lot of attention. I saw that she subsequently 1. Made her profile private. 2. Changed her username. 3. Removed approximately 6 photos.

    Maybe she owned up to her mistakes privately with her followers. Otherwise, a lot of that behavior indicates that she was trying to cover her ass (Jane Seo at least tried to apologize). Were you able to reach her prior to making this post? Do you think she’s remorseful at all?

    • looks like she had also gotten guaranteed entries into other NYRR races, including this year’s NYC Marathon?

  4. I am not a serious runner but I made contribution because I am fascinated by these stories. I don’t understand what drives people to do this. I suppose for most the ends justify the means e.g. qualifying for this team or that next race. But then why brag about it on social media? I’m a West Coast guy is there something about the endurance sports scene in NYC that drives folks to cheat and brag/be smug about it? Is there that much pressure? Derek keep up the good work.

  5. So I agree cheating is wrong. My thing is when is the person responsible for this webpage and all these investigative efforts going to be hanging around the port a johns to collect pee from all the runners that use performance enhancing drugs. I am sure that there are runners that have used them to get them over the top to qualify for Boston and left some people out who qualified for a time, but just not good enough without using PED’s.

    I don’t believe in cutting times or having people run for you. But I am almost positive at least 25-50% of new Boston qualifiers if not more have had the help of PED’s to get into the race.

    • Where to you get those numbers…”25-50%”? That is quite a significant claim. Since you are “almost positive”, can you provide the source of your data?

    • 25 to 50%? No way. Most people are honest. Very few runners use PEDs. The ones that are most likely to are those with the most to gain – elites or professional bloggers. Even then, 25-50% seems several orders of magnitude high.

    • There is no reason to think that any more than a couple handfuls of people are using PEDs to BQ. It’s a lot closer to 0.25 to 0.50% than 25-50%.

    • Where did you get the “at least 25-50% of new Boston qualifiers if not more” figure from? Is this a figment of your imagination? Are you so sour that you’ve never qualified that you’re just pulling stats out of the sky?

      I qualified for Boston for the first time last year and I didn’t use PEDs. I don’t even know what a PED looks like! I actually like the idea of testing Boston qualifiers. And I, for one, would be happy to test any time I qualify for Boston. Bring it on…

    • My guess is that the person responsible for this webpage will never be collecting pee, as you suggest, nor should he. To make such a suggestion takes away from the enormous amount of work he puts in. I also disagree that 25-50% of BQers have the help of PEDs, but that’s just my opinion.

      • PEDs in running can refer to many different substances and even techniques. Do some runners abuse something mundane like cytomel (hypothyroid hormone replacement) to drop a few pounds to train harder and sneak under 3:30? Definitely, some legitimate medications are easy to get, but they won’t give you a huge boost. Do some runners blood dope and abuse intravenous supplements? Only if they have the tools and access to these potent substances, as they are much harder to get and administer in a “safe” way to actually yield results.

  6. Wow just love it when they catch these scum bags…..and to think they put all this effort in this …for what?
    Thanks for new ways of catching them.We here in Flint Michigan,,Area who did it for years before he was caught BIG TIME.

  7. Hi Derek,

    I am Joe Martinez, the runner with bib # 9041 that you used to confirm that Cindy used a bib mule. Unfortunately, many people are reading the article on their phones or quickly, and I am getting lots of questions about whether I was the bib mule. I think it is pretty clear that Cindy’s bib number is 10378, but still there are questions being asked of me. I would hate for BAA NYRR etc to get confused and blackball me from future races (I am planning to complete all six World Majors next year in the same calendar year). Can you perhaps identify Cindy’s bib number in the article or circle the mule in the photo so people don’t think it is me. I am glad I could help – can’t believe that with 50K+ runners I was the person in the photo! Really enjoy the website and will make a contribution – didn’t realize that was an option.

    Regards, Joe

    • So sorry Joe! I have modified the article. You were definitely not the mule. I took the bib # reference out, and fixed the sloppy writing. I will edit the photo to wither blur the bib or circle the actual bib mule when I get the opportunity.

      • Hi Derek- I’m Katie, Joe’s wife. Now I’m really intrigued by this story. Question- I did a quick look at Joe’s several results videos from various points in the race, and the only time this guy is around him is at the finish. Not that they had the EXACT same pace the whole time, but it made me wonder- when the results were there for ‘Cindy,’ were the splits there also- ? Could this guy have just jumped in at the end for her to get a medal to pose with- ?

  8. She really gave it away by wearing pearl earrings, fresh makeup, and a curling iron curl in her “finishing” photo.

    Also, regarding the bib mule, why wouldn’t you want recorded proof that YOU qualified for Boston with a great time? Obviously he’s making money doing this, but it really tells us that he’s already BQ’d and likely ran Boston. Any real runner would do so at least once if they can. We can find this guy if we look hard enough. I’ll bet on it that his real name, info, and photo are in the archives.

      • Good find. I would wager he was doing the race as a workout, picking it up at the end. Perhaps he is a friend of follower of hers on social media(?)

      • Looks like a perfect training run. He could have ran under 3 hours, but that would have been a bigger red flat.

      • Now if all marathons would have mats at every mile and 5K mark, Derek’s job of catching cheaters would be a lot easier!

  9. Hi! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your blog posts.

    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?
    Thanks for your time!

  10. Shame on you, Cindy! What exactly are you trying to prove anyway!! Your Boston time would have been 5+ hours anyway!!

  11. Interestingly, her NYC Tune Up race was 10:14 min/mile. Theoretically, that makes her a 4:29 marathon runner.

  12. I remember reading about a scheme during the Xiamen Marathon in China about 10 years ago. Apparently high school students (!!!!) received extra points on their college entrance exams by running a sub 2:40 marathon for guys. I can’t remember the extra-point standard for women.

    This is back in the days of the old “Championchip” shoe-chip technology.

    Of course people were caught wearing 10-20 chips on each shoe, “chip mules.”

    • Just came across this blog via a story on the BBC website. These cases of fraudsters doing these things for external validation always fascinate me. When you know the facts of the event, her Instagram post is truly nauseating!
      The psychology involved is probably similar to “Munchausen by Internet” in which people feign illness for sympathy.
      Keep up the good work! Gave you a contribution.

  13. Great expose. Cindy went to extraordinary lenghts
    to defraud people on something so trivial. Surely a
    personal best is a personal best, sadly the only
    person you end up playing with these kind of scams
    is yourself.

  14. Hi,
    Thank you for exposing these cheats.
    I believe running clubs here in the U.K. also abuse their privilege of allocation of places. If not the club certainly memebers. Multiple applications etc. Running in some else’s name. From my own experience 10 years ago this was rife. I’m not sure anything has changed. It is so difficult to get a place here for the London Marathon that I would like to know that there are stringent checks.
    Thanks for what you are doing. I will keep applying in the correct way and donating my fee – I have a nice collection of running tops because of this. For all genuine entries I wish you well on Sunday at the London Marathon especially those running for the various charities.
    Be Selfless not selfish 🌞

  15. 95% of people on Instagram and Facebook act fake or ARE fake. I wonder how many people would be interested in certain things if it wasn’t for showing off or trying to show off on these and similar. I kind of feel bad for Cindy though. She is cute and that is one of my favourite names 😉

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