More Information Comes Out As Additional Witness Claims Runner Took Train On Way To Boston Finish

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More information has come to light in regards to Alexander Schwarz, the German runner that allegedly took the train en route to a 2:59:28 Boston Marathon finish. I received an email last Tuesday from someone that spotted him on the train, and later on the course.

I posted this quote in the previous article:

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!!!

 

 

 

 

After the article was posted, a another reader came forward that claims to have seen this runner:

I can certainly corroborate the individual who had previously emailed you.  I had gotten on the Green line (D line train) on Monday at the Longwood T stop a little after 12:20 or so on my way to the finish line to see my brother run.  As I got on the T, I saw this individual exactly as was described by the other person (shirt off, German flags on face, red bib which was obscured by a shirt and him facing the outer wall of the train).  I had thought he was someone who had dropped out of the race, but then noticed he was kind of evasive on the train and jamming GU in his mouth.   I tried to take a picture, but when the train pulled up to the next stop (Fenway), he immediately ran off the train, and I thought he might be cheating the course.

Fenway Station is approximately 1.5 miles from the Finish line. The time that this person says she saw him falls in line with Alexander’s times and missing splits. If Alexander got off the train at this point, he would have hit the 40k mat.

 

Motivation/Splits

Mile 3.1 6.2 9.3 12.4 13.1 15.5 18.6 21.7 24.8 26.2
Elapsed 00:20:16 00:40:52 01:01:49 01:23:37 01:28:27 01:45:42 missed missed 02:48:54 02:59:28
split pace 0:06:32 0:06:39 0:06:45 0:07:02 0:06:54 0:07:11 0:06:48 0:07:27
overall pace 0:06:32 0:06:35 0:06:39 0:06:45 0:06:45 0:06:49 0:06:49 0:06:51
projected 2:51:25 2:52:49 2:54:17 2:56:48 2:57:02 2:58:48 2:58:34 2:59:28

I included projected pace based on the overall split times. With the section of Heartbreak Hill still to come, it would appear that he was heading for a time slower than 3:00:00. Had he continued at his pace that he was running  after the 15k mat, he would not have achieved a sub 3:00:00 marathon.

Why would a sub 3:00:00 marathon have been important to Alexander?

A commentor on the initial article pointed out his blog: 42komma2.de. If you translate it, you can see that he intends to run all of The World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, New York, Chicago) in under 3 hours. Boston would have been his 5th finish of under 3 hours.

 

The motivation would have been high for him to complete Boston in under 3 hours.

On his site there is a video page. In New York, he actually wore a helmet with a video camera mounted to it for the race.  His photos from Boston don’t indicate that he ran with a camera.

Alexander emailed me last night. He did not comment on his performance or the eyewitness account. I replied and asked for a map of his run. He is wearing a GPS watch. I also asked if he was disputing the witnesses. So far he has not replied.
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22 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Derek. I wonder if this was his plan B all along in case he was behind the 3h goal or pure chance?

    He does make a big deal about his running on his website/Facebook (which has gone private) and coming to Boston for a race with your family isn’t easy or cheap. On the other hand this isn’t exactly the most elaborate way of cheating and prone to be discovered.

  2. Derek, great job. If he did board the train, public transportation usually has CCTV coverage of the entrance and exits. Do a public records request for the video. This should remove all speculation. Act quickly as I’m not sure what Boston’s retention policy is for video. Good luck!

  3. This inspirational quote is on his German blog. He took the “laziness” part literally.

    “The best runners are those who can train hard, but also have a little bit of laziness.
    So that their body can find time to regenerate. ”

    Benji Durden (coach and marathon Olympian competitor 1980)

  4. Stupid guy! Now he will not only not have a sub 3hr major, but he will likely be banned from Boston and never complete the majors at all!

    But I imagine he’s the type who might still say he did.

  5. Wow, this makes me pretty upset. Although I had a 2:44 seed time, I was hoping to eke out 2:50-2:55 knowing how hot and sunny it was. For the second year in a row, after spending a good $2000 for travel and registration, the weather gods were not happy with us.

    The heat was unbearable, so I started doing the run-walk thing right before Newton Hills (near the Woodland train station) as my legs started cramping badly. It was pretty clear with 8 miles of run-walking ahead of me in 75 degree heat, I would miss 3 hours. I gutted it out with a very painful toenail blister and seizing quads and ended up with a 3:03. Given the conditions, it is what it is. I’m disappointed, but am ok with that and happy that I avoided collapsing or any other serious medical issues.

    To think this guy, who was probably feeling as bad as I was during the latter half of the race, may have taken the train to skip the most grueling part of the race and finish under 3 hours, is sad. Apparently he is a very talented runner who could no doubt achieve his sub 3 goal on a more favorable day. But for many folks, Monday was simply not that day.

    We have to be ok with the fact that sometimes our bodies can’t perform under certain conditions. I’m sure his family, friends and sponsors would have understood and supported him if he had fallen short but had given it his best. Why risk his integrity over this?

    Sehr traurig.

    • Jason,
      Thank you for sharing your perspective on here. It really hit home the point of one key reason Derek’s work is so important. Cheating dishonors the struggle that makes running so wonderful, especially the struggle when it just isn’t your day and you push through to finish. Congratulations on your Boston finish!

    • That’s what irritates me about this guy too.

      I’m not quite as fast as you – I was hoping to run around 2:55 to 2:58 and finally break 3 at Boston (my best there is a 3:01). My training indicated that I had a good shot if the weather cooperated – and then the weather didn’t cooperate. So I backed off at 10K knowing that continuing to try to run a time that I was only going to be capable of under good conditions was a foolish endeavor in the conditions we were presented with.

      Other than my forearms and neck cramping I held up reasonably well and came in with a 3:12. Like you I was disappointed as I put in a lot of work over the winter and to have it “taken away” by a warm day was frustrating. But I didn’t take an asphalt dive like I saw several people around me do and I didn’t need medical attention either so I did the right thing and accepted the slower time.

      My wife texted me after the race and congratulated me on running a good race. She’s seen me blow up there before and was able to decipher by my splits that I had intentionally backed off after 10K. The more I thought about it the more pleased I was with my performance because I did the right thing under the circumstances. Everyone who knows me understands why I didn’t hit the time I had told them I was aiming for.

      I would have felt like a complete jerk had I gotten onto the T and then “run” 2:59. All the congrats from friends and family would have been B.S. and I would have had to make up a story knowing deep down that I did not deserve nor earn their well wishes. When you put it in that perspective I’ll take the well wishes and the slower time every time as opposed to cheating by cutting the course or getting on a train/car/whatever.

      I’ll never understand what goes through someone’s mind when they decide to do something like this. Even if you don’t get caught, you know you cheated. So all the accolades and compliments ring hollow because they’re based on a fraud.

  6. It must be nice. Our trains are so slow and spotty that if someone tried that here, he’d add 30 minutes to his time.

  7. Anyone with any computer skills that has run Boston before could easily modify a previous GPS file from the Boston Marathon to make it looks like they ran the entire course. Maybe that’s why he had not replied yet, he’s fixing a GPS file.

    • When he emailed me, he asked I remove his photo, and gave me a short timeframe to do so. At this point, I would not trust any GPS file. Also, the GPS file could be used to determine when he should be photographed.

      • It seems as though he had the train option worked out ahead of time. How else would someone not from Boston know that the on/off stops would be located where he needed them to be to cut the race.

        • I received another report from an eyewitness that he asked for directions.

          I doubt it was preplanned. He only made it by less than a minute. That’s cutting it close.

          • Maybe he had dropped out and made his way back to the finish to meet his supporters when the opportunity to jump back in the race came up.

  8. There’s a fairly good quality video of the field going through Heartbreak Hill on YouTube here;

    By my estimation 3 hour finishers will be concentrated around the 20 to 25 minute mark of this recording. Our German friend should be easy to spot if he did indeed run the entire course 🙂

    • I finished in 3:30 nd appear on the video at the 45:28 mark. Looks like there might be a gap here and there.

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