Despite Evidence of Cheating, Runners Remain in Disney Results


A few weeks ago, I posted about a Team In Training Runner.


This runner has qualified for The Boston Marathon while running at Disney each of the past three years. (Including a qualifier for 2018 Boston that still stands.

I understand that Disney caters primarily to the more casual runner and Disney enthusiast. However, their courses are USATF certified, and therefore the Disney Marathon serves as a Boston Qualifier. I’ve identified 34 runners used Disney to enter Boston in 2017. That ranks 106th out of 642 marathons that I’ve identified as having sent runners to The 2017 Boston Marathon.

I hold out little hope that Disney will act on the results prior to this past race.  However, there is still her questionable 2017 result that she would likely use to enter the 2018 Boston Marathon. This year, she did not miss a split, but the result is still suspicious.

Mile 5 10 13.1 20 26.2
Elapsed Time 0:43:31 1:27:38 1:46:05 2:49:52 3:47:24
Overall Pace 0:08:42 0:08:46 0:08:06 0:08:30 0:08:41
Split Pace 0:08:42 0:08:49 0:05:57 0:09:15 0:09:17

It would appear that she may have cut a little over a mile off of the course (most likely cutting over at the 10 -1/2 mile point). Given her history, I would give little benefit of the doubt. As a Boston Qualifying race, I feel Run Disney has an obligation to ensure the validity of their results – particularly those with times that qualify them for other races. this race has been a prime target for cheating given the laid back nature of the Disney races.


After the article, TNT did respond:

While we are unfortunately not in a position to verify the racing statistics that you reference in your article, in the interest of avoiding confusion in the future we have reminded all of our coaches that they should not wear their coaching jersey if they are only running as a participant (as was the case with the subject of your blog in the Disney 2016 marathon).

Thank you,

Bob Merrill, SVP, Team In Training

They also did confirm that the runner was not acting in a coaching capacity in the other years that she used Disney as her Boston Qualifier.


Not An Isolated Incident

Another runner, that I previously wrote about appeared in the Walt Disney World Marathon results after the fact.  She was ADDED to the results after results were posted despite not having recorded a single split. They took her at her word, and now she has an official Boston Qualifying time. She has been disqualified from at least 4 other marathons. She was retroactively DQ’d from the race that she used to run The 2016 Boston Marathon. Yet, Disney takes her at her word. I’ve reported this to them, and have not received a response and she still appears in the results.

I’ve had numerous conversations (via email) with this runner. She denies all of the allegations. However, in this specific case, I find it irrelevant. Whether she ran the time she is credited with, or not, there is NO evidence that she did so. There are no photos, and no GPS evidence. She says that there is video of her at the start – but that would prove nothing other than she was at the start.

If a race is going to position itself as more of a fun run than a serious marathon, that is perfectly acceptable. However, it is their obligation to ensure that their results are accurate, to the best of their ability. If they want to give medals to anyone that registered for the race, that is their business. But you should not be able to get a Boston Qualifying time simply because you ask.


Thank you to all of those that have already contributed to the site. Contributions go towards site expenses, and to compensate those that help gather the data. Please consider making a small contribution to support the site.


One Time Contribution



  1. Solution — If Disney refuses to act on clear evidence to disqualify runners, then BAA can force their hand. BAA can threaten to not accept any future Disney Marathon runners. If Disney were to lose their qualifier status, the participation in their races would suffer.

    • a good point, but I doubt Disney would care – the WDW marathon weekend sells out every year, and usually very quickly, despite fairly expensive registration fees.

      • Disney might not care but the marathon doesn’t sell out quickly, and sometimes not at all. The shorter races (5k,10k) sellout very quickly for marathon weekend but the longer races, especially the marathon, is often open into the fall. The registration for 2018 Marathon Weekend opened in February and the half, full and Goofy Challenge are still open.

    • I’d like to see your point but in this case it may not hold much water. I’ve run this race twice and can assure you that this is not a concern to most participants. For example, in the mens 35-39 AG only 30 of 1443 finishers ran a BQ this year. That’s 2%. Women in the same AG had a lower BQ rate of 26 out of 1514. If Disney just advertises one more character photo opportunity and they easily replace anyone who even cared to nab a BQ there.

    • I don’t think BAA would do that to rundisney. Boston’s race director has been running Disney events almost every year since 2000 including several marathons and every dopey. He even called the disney marathon “one of the most well managed, well orchestrated road races I have ever competed in.”

      • Mike makes a good point, but the BAA board could force his hand. Even if the Disney Marathon is geared more toward entertainment than achievement, it would be unfortunate if the event lost some legitimacy with the overall running community. They may not suffer financially, but they need to fix this. Identifying cheaters and acting appropriately also honors the many honest runners, regardless of how slow, for their effort.

    • I fully agree with Eric, that was my first thought. I understand Gerald’s and Walter’s stance, but any event that wants to be a BQ race should conform to minimum runner verification standards. And if they choose to relinquish that privilege, I doubt their attendance will suffer. Besides, as someone from upstate NY, I can’t see why ANY runner would want to use a Florida race for a BQ.

      Good work, Derek.

  2. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt you’ll see any response or action from runDisney on this. They do an outstanding job of putting on their events on race weekend, but anything outside of that is severely subpar. Customer service is non-responsive and takes ages to get anything done, if ever. 2 examples:

    * One year I deferred my race to the following year (the last year they allowed deferrals at all). They had a published process – a deferral link would appear on the website at a certain date, you sign up and pay for the deferral, 2 weeks before the on-sale date for the following year you would get a special registration link for your deferred race. Every step of the way, they were late. I had to harass them for months via email before anything got done. Most emails got no response. If I did get a response, it would either tell me to hang on and wait, or direct me to a non-functioning web page (which I would then report back). I’m amazed that I finally got it done.

    * I earned an age group award at that deferred race. They don’t hand these out at the race like virtually every other race in existence – instead you are told your award will arrive in the mail in 4-6 weeks. I finally received my award 4 MONTHS after the race. I later found out that they don’t even order the age group plaques until well after race day!

  3. How does a race become a Boston Qualifier? Plenty of other races have had issues with cheaters, but they still are BQ races.

    The biggest problem with cheating at Disney races are the slow runners who use mules to get into an earlier corral.

    • To my knowledge (25+ year RD), the only thing a marathon needs to do to be a BQ is be held on a certified course. I’ve never heard of Boston excluding a race from BQ status for any reasons, other than that it’s not a certified course. For a long time I’ve said that the BAA should step up and put some additional considerations in place for races that are notorious for results “issues”. Philadelphia back in the day was one of them, more than a few people cutting the out and back section. (Philly’s new production group is one I have faith in.) Disney is another one.

  4. As *show me the money says above, heating appeared rife at Disney. I did the Dopey Halle get this year, and at that start of the 5k, 10k and marathon (the half was cancelled) there were hundreds of people who must have used miles or someone elses time to get their corral placement.

    In the full, there do appear to be opportunities to cut the course. The 10/12 miles section is one, but also around ESPN. In both these places there were a lack of staff, it would be easy to do.

  5. What a amazing burst of power the runner has.
    I am not saying it did not happen,

    At 1.27 for 10 miles would give you 1.54 for 13.1 But “1.46” a sub 20 minute 5km.

    I am going to try this at home and see how I get on.
    First 10 miles in 87 minutes my warm up run,then my dam burst of power as I pull out a sub 20 minute 5km,then the cool down half at a 8.45 pace.

  6. She cheated (can anyone doubt this?) and should be called out from here on.

    Disney’s response is silly. For goodness sake, take an interest in maintaining the integrity of the sport. Your race is on it’s way to joke status based on the known cheaters and other nonsense that has occurred over the past few years

    Memo to the RD: Just a suggestion: Take a small portion of the race $$$ and pay for course marshals at these areas where people are known to cut. What can it cost? Pennies on the dollar: if someone cuts, pull them from the course or take their photo and then DQ them later. Or place additional “dummy” mats and, or cameras. If you have 40000 runners I’m sure Disney isn’t going to go bankrupt with these added protections. If you don’t well, there’s no law against cheating in races but you do the sport a huge disservice and should be either commended for rectifying or vilified for ignoring this.

  7. Derek,

    Quick question: Are you contacting runDisney, or Track Shack? runDisney, from what I can tell, is a brand name that covers both Disneyland and Walt Disney World events, even though Spectrum Sports Management handles DL, and Track Shack Orlando handles WDW. (The actual entity from within Disney may be something called Disney Sports Attractions, but it’s a bit of a mystery.)

    I ask because contacting ‘runDisney’ is often futile, even for those of us who run their races. The people answering the phones and replying to emails, although nice enough (it’s Disney), often provide inaccurate information. They really don’t know what’s going on.

    The race director for Disney World events is Jon Hughes with Track Shack. If you haven’t already, I would give him a call.

Comments are closed.