Course Cutting At Boston? Tipster Witnesses Runner Taking Train

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I’ve never really examined the Boston Marathon results to identify course cutting at The Boston Marathon itself. I’ve come across a few runners that I’ve written about over the past year or so. I just wrote about a runner who apparently has taken shortcuts over multiple years. I looked a little more closely for missed mats and odd splits.

Taking The Train

15 runners that missed both the 30k and 35k splits (Some missed additional splits as well). A handful of these runners earned Boston Qualifying times as well. Most require additional investigation. The only evidence on many is just the missed mats – paces look fine and the historical results don’t raise any suspicions. I will wait for the B.A.A. to make a determination  on those runners.

 

I received an email from a runner who had this story to tell about one runner:

He got on the train at Woodlands (mile 16.8). He looked like he was in pain so I thought maybe he was just DNF-ing and wanted to get home…he happened to have his country’s flag tattooed to his face so I noticed him. He had his shirt off while on the train and wrapped around his waist so as to obscure his bib number but since it was hot, I didn’t really think much of it at the time.

I got off at Fenway and hustled to see my guy hit the 25 mile mark when a few minutes later the dude from the train runs by! He jumped back in the race!!!

The person that emailed this did some very good sleuthing. She filtered on German runners (from seeing the flag tattoo on his cheeks) abd was able to narrow down the culprit based on the missed mats. She confirmed the identity through the race photos online.  His time would qualify him for Boston ’18. For what it’s worth, his qualifying marathon at London ’16 looks legitimate. He upgraded his coral with a time at the 2016 Chicago Marathon. This time also looks to be legitimate. However, cheating at Boston should be grounds for a ban from future races.

Edit: I received an email from another person who witnessed this runner on the train,  – follow up post coming.

Heartbreak Hill

Who do you think has the fastest time between the 30k and 35k timing mats? Geoffrey Kurui? Galen Rupp?  Nope.

 

Stephen, a 57 year old charity runner who finished the race in over 4:30:00 managed to put together a 13:48 5k on the stretch that included Heartbreak Hill. Compare that to Rupp’s and Kurui’s time of 15:18.

Others

There are a number of other runners with multiple missed splits. Some earned Boston Qualifying times. I will be watching for BAA to take action.

Most of these runners had no other flags besides the missed mats – there may have been legitimate mat or chip issues. With a race the size of Boston, that will be the case.

For example, there is a runner with a split between the 25k and 35k of less than 2 minutes. That 100% has to be a timing error.

I am now turning towards analyzing the results to look at those that cheated in their qualifiers, or sold their bibs. I have many tips to go through as well as my prioritized list.

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! This was a hot day. As a New Englander taking my first run of the season in the heat, it was a disappointing day. I thought about dropping or never running another marathon. Taking the train was never a thought. I figured we were all suffering together and all of our times and stories would reflect that. Guess not.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with your statement! I thought of DNF’g at mile 7!! DNG’g!!! The heat inland (high 70s/low 80s) with thousands of hot bodied runners, made if feel absolutely suffocating. It reminded me yet AGAIN, why I will NEVER run the Maui Marathon again. LOL But guess what… didn’t DNF. Just took my sweet time at each aid station just so I could finish upright and not with IV’s in my arm like last year (and Maui). LOL

  2. Love your work but is there additional evidence other than the missed splits and the eye witness who saw him on the train? His splits look legit and his other runs indicate he is capable of running his finish time.

    • There is now a 2nd witness that corroborates the story. I believed the 1st witness for a variety of reasons. She would have had no reason to randomly stumble on this runner’s results and make up this story.

      • He could share the data from his gps watch to prove that he actually did not cheat…for sure he will not share it.

  3. I love that you do this. The integrity of qualifying should be on the up and up. I had to busy my butt to qualify for the last 7 Bostons. By my results I would look like I couldn’t have qualified with my 4:04. But after trying hard to run strong in the first half I totally tanked and decided to do everything I could to have fun.I played the drums on the side of the road, sang to spectators and thanked everyone possible. My finish time of 4:38 was my second worse of 20 marathons. But at least I know I was legit! Now to get back to the next matter… sucking it up and working hard for another BQ! Thanks again for weeding out the losers!

  4. It might be worthwhile to put a special timing mat at the turnstiles to the most popular T station which will beep whenever a cheating ass runner passes over it. That would record all the bib numbers of the cheaters automatically and no need for confrontation! Anyone recorded crossing that mat gets an automatic DQ. A video cam wouldn’t be good enough because they conceal their bibs.

    If only. Just dreaming.

  5. That is what he posted on his FB page in German, translation below. He says this damn chip did not work twice

    Das war eine harte Nuss hier in Boston. Ich habe gekämpft, geschwitzt und geküsst. Die 22 Grad Celsius waren fürs Laufen sehr warm und die Strecke verlangt einem alles ab. Ich habe es nicht bewusst so spannend machen wollen, aber der Scheiss Chip hat zweimal nicht ausgelöst. War halt kein Champion Chip 😂Bei Kilometer 41 habe ich noch erste Hilfe geleistet. 
    Leute, ich bin überglücklich und bedanke mich fürs Daumendrücken!

    This was a hard nut here in Boston. I fought, sweated and kissed. The 22 degrees Celsius were very warm for running, and the route requires everything from you. I did not want to make it so exciting, but the shit chip did not trigger twice. Was not a champion chip 😂 At kilometer 41 I still got first help. People, I am happy and thank you for the thumb!

    • „Bei Kilometer 41 habe ich noch erste Hilfe geleistet.“ Does actually not mean that he got help.
      He claims to have administered first aid at km 41…
      Well, that can take seconds or minutes and mean everything.
      I hope the correct translation helps to solve the puzzle.

      • there is no puzzle. chips don’t magically start working at the end of the race, and two different eye witnesses saw him cheat. case closed.

        • In the meanwhile, the guy has actually deleted all references to Boston 2017 from his website (except the announcement that he “will be running” in Boston). Seems like the website abandoned (for the moment). So I agree: case closed. The interesting fact about this case is that it is not someone who claims results that he is plainly unable to achieve (his record of marathon results seems honest). Beats me as to why peaple try to cheat temselves …

  6. @Karen Coutts: such a timing mat would only record a runner passing over it to get on a commuter rail T station, but it wouldn’t prove motive. What if the runner was legitimately dropping out as a DNF?

        • How about this: Crossing the finish mat after crossing one of the train station mats would turn you DNF into a DQ. It seems elegantly simple to me. Both ways you are out of the official results but if you venture across the finish line, you get barred from future Boston Marathons.

          • I see your point, kind of, based on the notion that once you drop out of a race, you’re irreversibly out of the race (DNF to DQ). But I don’t think most runners can predict when they would need to exit at a specific point (timing mats) in the race. It’s hard to know when your legs or body is going to give out during the 26.2 miles, as was the case for many runners this past Monday in Boston.

  7. I just ran this boston. I wonder how these tour companies work that bring significant-sized groups over from Europe and Asia. Out for my Sunday pre-race jog there were groups of people in their BAA race shirts – most of them looked like qualifying runners but there were definitely groups of somewhat elderly Europeans (I would guess German from accents), some of which couldn’t even get through a short jog. Are they charity runners or are there more tour companies doing insidious things to get people into the race?

      • There are other ways to get a bib. Sponsors such as John Hancock get a bunch of complimentary bibs. Each of the cities on the route, Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, etc get some complimentary bibs too. Also all past Winners get I believe 5 bibs to give out too. So there are other ways to get a bib besides qualifying or the charity route.

  8. Yeah – – first guy is a legitimately fast runner which makes you wonder what he was thinking but that doesn’t explain the lack of race photos from the points on the course that he skipped. If you go to marathonfoto and search other runners with similar times you will notice that folks who are this quick tend to have A LOT of race photos from all over the course because the photographers are better able to get shots of them since they are ahead of the crowds.

    • It appears he has a project of running various marathons all over the world in under 3 hours.

      His Facebook site is full of posts about the Boston marathon, had family travelling with him etc.

      Could be he knew he wouldn’t make it sub 3h and decided to cheat.

  9. I love the timing mat idea – – One at Woodlands, one at Reservoir and one at Fenway should do the trick. Funny thing is on bad days, the train would have been slower for this guy.

    • My wife managed to meet me at three points for a high five … Woodlands, Reservoir & Fenway 🙂

      I finished in 3:12:10 (my BQ was a 2:59:05), to give you an idea as to my marathon pace. Definitely quicker to take the Green Line, as well as giving him the opportunity to rest while travelling.

  10. I think that fast 5K split is a timing error. His next 5K was 48:26, and if you look at all the 10K splits they are consistently at an hour and change. Don’t shame this runner for a clock malfunction.

      • I noticed and thanks for due diligence. He very well may have cheated (14 min/mile for last 7K — his final 2.2 split pace matched the 35K-40K split) but with a non-BQ time I’m wondering why someone would take the risk to shave off 10-15 minutes, instead of just walking.

        • That isn’t how the mats work and it isn’t even a mile from BC (mile 21.2) to where he’d have to get off when the train turns left and the race turns right for Cleveland Circle (approx mile 22). Would shave only 8 minutes for a runner like him even if the train were to leave exactly at the moment he needed it to.

      • Looking into this, I have a theory.. He may have got on the B line at Boston College and rode it to Chestnut hill. That segment of the course the train is right there next to the road, and he may have triggered the 35K mat from on board the train.

          • You cannot get a transponder signal from the train with a passive disposable. I am a professional timer using one of the leading brands of equipment.
            Although most of the suspects listed by this website look obviously suspect, they do require further evidence, such as the case of this guy in a train etc.

            A lot of comments are made without knowledge of how the transponders work and why they fail- including by Derek.
            Missed reads are not always ‘random’…yes there are random misses at start due to density of runners (RFID signal blocked by runners etc), many of the split misses, where passes are much less dense and slower, are not random, but could be due to a variety of transponder related issues, how it is worn, interference from apparel and belts, HRMs, even specific people’s body (without any of aforementioned issues) cause misses for reasons not yet known.
            I know this because I have data for the timing I do, and I investigate all multiple and finish misses with photographic evidence.

            As I said, this guy may be suss, but do not accuse each and every person simply on the basis of transponder missed readings.

          • Thanks for chiming in. I always do require more than just missed splits to make a conclusion. There are many with missed mats that I never report on. Needs to be combined with other evidence.

          • Thanks, no worries.

            I have also done specific real race trials on a track with multi tagging lots of runners with several tags and bibs in pouring rain and looked at when tags started misbehaving. I have found that although they are extremely robust- more than people think even- there were some unexplained ‘person specific’ losses across multiple tags as laps wore on..whereas some people continued to read even with the most ‘unprotected ‘ tag.
            Even the system manufactures don’t want to believe that – yet.

            So, of course, though mostly ‘random’, there are many cases of repeat failures at some and not other splits, and even specifi split point locations could therefore be an issue for specific people…the industry is using disposables designed for clean inventory type environments, and is to ‘young’ to have all the whys and why nots yet.
            Cheers

  11. Can we leave a big STUPID on this guy’s FB post? As Yogi Berra has said, “if you’re going to cheat, it’s best if you don’t get caught.” However, I don’t know what is more repugnant….someone like this or someone like you going after these people. Maybe one day you’ll make a mistake and have some lawyer knocking on your door…

  12. The train from Woodland touches the course at two points: Beacon Street at mile ~22.3 and Fenway at mile ~24.8. Fenway would cut off 8 miles and the train ride is 29 minutes (3:37 per mile); Beacon Street takes 17 minutes and cuts off 5.5 miles (3:05 per mile). Both could get him to hit the 40k mat, although I would think the crowd is especially thick near Fenway.

    Two questions:
    – this guy stood out (flag tattoos on his face and apparently no good attempt to disguise his running attire). For the other people who missed those two mats – is there a logical explanation?

    – his behavior since being outed suggests he’s guilty. Will BAA do anything further?

  13. Do you think the 35K time for Stephen was a timing error? His time at 40K appears to be in line with his overall pace if you ignore the 35K time.

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