After The Boston Marathon, I typically hear from runners that spot others in their tagged photos, wearing copied or forged bibs. In this situation, the runners managed to out themselves. It appears that the 3 women in the above picture all used copied/forged bibs to run The 2017 Boston Marathon. I cannot speak to the other runner. I have not been able to identify him – his bib is not visible, and he is not tagged in any of the photos that were posted on Facebook and Instagram.
The tip initially came in regarding the Facebook post shown above. The first thing I do in these situations is to try to determine whether the runner pictured was wearing the actual bib or a copy.
I found that she seemed to be running the entire race with another runner, shown wearing bib # 28099.
The runner wearing bib #28099 is not the owner of that bib. I also was able to determine that both bibs were indeed copies. I determine this by checking other photos and the times of other visible runners. While the true owner of bib #28099 is not tagged in any photos, I was able to spot that runner in finish line photos based on his time of day finish – his bib was not clearly visible.
I also found a 2nd runner wearing a COPIED version of bib #28493. I could not determine if there was any relation between the runner pictured below and the other runners with the copied bibs.
Additionally, the third woman pictured in the group photo at the top of the article does not show up in the marathon results. She is pictured wearing a medal, but her bib is obscured.
I also do not know if the male photographed in the group picture used a copied bib or if he had a legitimately acquired bib.His bib # is not visible, and he is not tagged in the photographs – so I can not look him up by name.
The two bib #s that were visible are charity bib #s. In order to obtain a charity bib legitimately, there is typically a requirement to raise at least $5,000 for your committed charity. These runners bypassed this requirement. The charity program is a big part of The Boston Marathon. In 2016 for example, The Boston Marathon Fundraising raised $30.6 Million through the 2016 race.
I am aware of the identities of the 3 women in the group photo. I will notify the B.A.A. They can choose whether to notify the charities associated with the bibs. Also, if those charities were to reach out to me, I would share the information with them. Any attempts to name the runners in the article comments will be removed.
I have reached out to the 3 runners that I have positively identified for comment. I am curious as to the methods they used to obtain the bibs. With 2 seemingly unconnected runners wearing the same copied bib #, it is my theory that there is someone selling forged bibs. I found no evidence that the true owners of the bibs were involved or contributed to this in any way.
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Great work as usual. I guess I understand your logic regarding not “outing” people with fake bibs, as there could be some mitigating explanation.
AndrewFS: Your willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to these individuals is admirable and charitable, but consider this: the Boston Marathon is so high-profile these days, that I cannot conceive that a group of four runners (including the unidentified guy in the pic), all looking capable of going the distance), Being ignorant of BM qualification requirements, or bib-selling issues. And, with all due respect, experienced runners WOULD and SHOULD appreciate the difference.
Am I the only one that noticed that the three women are all wearing the same shoe model and color?
Probably stole the shoes too, why not.
LOL. You should check out Derek’s follow up article. The shoes it turns out, are an important detail!
In looking at the results all the copied bibs were copied from two finishers both from the same town of Quincy Massachusetts. What are the odds of that? Not saying there is any connection but seems like a pretty long odds coincidence.
Holy shit I hate these people. I can’t believe how many people do this and then POST IT on social media. They are asking to get caught. Thank you for doing this work.
I think the same thing when I read these stories. There is just no such thing as shame anymore. I know I couldn’t cheat and then smile for the camera, but then I’m pretty old-school.
I think what makes this website so interesting to a lot of people is that they cannot comprehend how someone can basically cheat themselves [and others] and try to claim glory. Could you pose for a picture with a medal knowing you didn’t even run the whole race or cheated to get in? It’s just weird.
I wonder whether forged bibs could be reduced by having a bib/chip scan at the entrance to the athlete’s village. If a bib is a forgery, it would be detected immediately. If each bib could be tied to a photo of the registered runner that pops up when the bib is scanned (e.g. a digital picture is taken when each bib is picked up at the Expo), then bib mules/sellers could also be reduced. Of course this would add a certain amount of time and expense, but it seems like it could be doable. If only something more could be done to reduce the cheaters/liars who bask in the glory of running Boston!
They could do first sweep when you go through the barrier and the security men check you before you get on the buses to go to Hopkinton!
Run Disney does this with their challenge runs. Goofy, dopey and I’m sure the other 10k-1/2 marathon weekends. Your pic is taken with your bib at check in and then at the finish you are checked again with your bib and original picture. Boston needs to step up.
Disney allows cheating and in some ways their inaction appear to endorse the behavior. https://www.marathoninvestigation.com/2017/04/cheating-evidence-disney-marathon.html
Some people stay up at the start so they don’t need to get the buses. A scanner going into the village is a great idea. Different entrances for bus users that have been checked at the bus pick ups and one or a few for others
The “quick check” technology is available! I went skiing in Breckenridge earlier this year and they have the scanners that those working the lifts literally just point and shoot at you. If you don’t have a lift ticket (or here, a real bib), they know right away. I would imagine that instituting this at the Athletes’ Village would be fairly easy.
That could work, but only assists in fraudulent bib runners trying to cross the start line in Hopkinton. Even with additional security, it’s still quite easy to enter the race within a mile after the start, and for much for the race until Newton. There were plenty of bandit runners who still ran without any numbers when I ran in 2014.
While failure to pay registration cheats the event organizer, I think most of us have more of a problem not with these cheaters who START the race as it is with those who FINISH it and take a medal or use a faked time to get into another race. A chip on the back of the bib is often used at triathlons and actually provides the competitor’s name to the announcer via a mat located 100 feet or so from the finishline. If the name isn’t identified for a soon-to-be-finisher they could be singled out for a hand held scanner. No chip. No published finish time or photos. No medal. No recognition.
While I agree that people are to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, I believe the onus for proof shifts to the person wearing the questionable bib to prove it’s legitimate.
Please explain to me why this isn’t a criminal act? theft of services, etc. Not a lawyer but common sense says there’s a blatant illegal act here. I can’t tell you how enraged I am at these reprehensible people. They’re basically calling all BQ’ers, Boston runners AND those who raised $5000.00 plus and ran the race chumps. Hopefully, the BAA will pursue this vigilantly either via legal (criminal or civil) means or in other ways. Also, do what Miami Marathon does (just did) and have runners on the course calling and pulling all mules, out of the race. I understand. Tough to do but at least keep up the appearances that you are doing everything to police and punish all before, during and, or after the race.
It *IS* a criminal act. (I am a lawyer.)
That said, it’s unlikely an underfunded, overworked District Attorney’s office is going to prosecute theft of services when their resources are needed to prosecute assault, etc.
Let’s not get the law involved. I think the Event can handle it. We don’t need more laws, especially against running. Shaming people live during the event, that I can get behind!
Criminal law, I mean, civil prosecution for sure.
This has to be the lowest of all con tricks played out at the charities expense. They have disgraced themselves. Give them all the publicity they deserve. Do not let them hide. Ban them from all the running clubs and races. Do not run with them.
Not sure how security works at the Boston. The Berlin marathon runners have a security strap attached to their wrist when attending the Expo. No security tag, then no admittance to the the secure area on marathon day.
Was it that simple to ‘Gate Crash’ the Boston? The possibilities of something really catastrophic could have happened.
Many charities require a minimum of $5,000 but if your charity is newer to the marathon (2013 on) the minimum is $7,500 and some are even at $8,500. Based on the bib numbers they copied, the associated charities are probably at the $7,500 amount. The forged bibs look pretty legit-given the cursory glance you get walking into the corrals, I can see how they got through no issue. A lot of people posted their bibs on social media starting the Friday before the marathon, it’s not a surprise that some were copied.
How do they get a timing chip?
I don’t think they do, they just forge the front which either means someone has posted it on social media or someone is copying the bibs and selling copies. The sad thing is the person who had that bib # legitimately will also get a ban.
There’s no reason the legitimate bib holder would get a ban. Unless it is shown they were the ones copying or selling copies. Posting your bib on Facebook won’t result in a ban. Also the bib could be photoshopped. The designs don’t change..
I have to beg to differ, this at the top pf page 8 in the athlete handbook (link below): “. The B.A.A. asks participants not to post close-up pictures of their bib number on social media before the race to avoid fraudulent bib duplication. If an athlete is found to have
duplicated a bib number, or if his/her bib number has been duplicated by another party, the athlete will be subject to disqualification.”
If I have a legitimate bib and don’t post a photo of it on social media
but a scammer finds someone else’s posting (or more than one photo from different bibs),
takes those bib photo and photoshops a new bib that by chance has my number,
then I would be subject to disqualification?!
Doesn’t seem fair because I was not involved and had no way of knowing or preventing it.
Actually, the designs do change subtly from year to year. But I’ve never understood why people think they need to see a specific bib to copy it – once you know what the bib looks like, it’s easy enough to match fonts. It seems like victim blaming to claim that a duplicated bib was somehow duplicated because of fault on the legitimate holder’s part.
I agree Sore Knees Mike, if my bib was copied I’d be so upset. But as someone mentioned there are subtle changes each year. So I am thinking that if they don’t have the differences then they have copied a previous year’s that just happens to be your number (I’m thinking the differences would be enough to show it didn’t come from our bibs). It is probably easier to find one that someone has been silly enough to put on social media.
They could do with putting a metallic hologram on it to make copying more difficult. They could change the design/location of the hologram on the bib each year.
Wow. Having paid for and completed 3 marathons legitimately I take huge offense to these women. I hope they are banned from ALL races.
A few things!
1. All races should instruct all runners not to post social media pictures of their bibs until AFTER the race. Yes, it will be hard to enforce-really what would be the penalty? But, at least it would inform runners of these assholes who cheat!!
2. Is there a way that would make logistical and financial sense, so that race directors can make sure everybody in the corral has a real bib?
3. I know you’re feelings about the downhill races being BQ’s. But, have you ever found anybody who cut the course of Revel? I’m sure mules are used at Revel.
I ran Big Cottonwood in 2014 and 2015 and saw course cutters at the short out and back around Mile 20. In 2015, the new course had a loop at Mile 3 back up the hill and saw several cut the course. I emailed and alerted Revel in both years, no DQ’s. I cannot speak for mules, but at BCW, there are two opportunities to easily cut the course.
So the big downhill isn’t enough, people feel the need to cut the course too?
Why bother signing up then?
Many courses rely on personal ethics, which apparently some don’t have.
Unfortunately this is true. I’m just shocked that this kind of behavior doesn’t bother the people who are doing it.
I caught a guy cheating in a local 5K a few years ago. I was in third place for much of the race and by the finish the top 4 or 5 of us were pretty spread out. All of a sudden this overweight guy goes sprinting past me to the finish line. I was pretty surprised as I knew who was behind me and knew I had a pretty large gap on the fourth place guy. After looking at the guy I was thinking that there was no way this guy could have beat me, let alone left me in the dust like I was standing still in the last 100 meters. But I also didn’t think anyone would cheat in a rinky dink race and I didn’t want to look like sour grapes complaining to the race director who was a friend of mine.
I went home and googled his name and sure enough a bunch of 27 minute 5K showed up with his name and age connected to them. Somehow on that day he ran 18 and change. I e-mailed my friend and he told me that a couple other RDs had let him know to watch out for this guy because they thought he was cutting the courses. So friend confronted him at the next race and he admitted to it.
In our particular race he cheated another guy out of an age group win and medal. But what I don’t understand is that at the end of the day when you’re looking at that medal, you know what you did. You know you didn’t earn it and you know you stole it from someone else.
You’re right, some people have no integrity whatsoever. I’m just surprised it’s this widespread.
What do you expect … people see professional teams, coaches, and athletes cheat all the time and not get in trouble for it.
If they have a copy, I assume there is no timing chip. So can’t there be a way to ‘flag’ those runners as they cross a timing mat? No timing chip as they cross the mats, pull the runner. Maybe it’s too crazy at certain mats to do so due to volume of runners but I would think at some point there’d be a way to know that someone’s bib is not registering.
This is a pretty good idea, but it would have to be a timing mat at the entry to the start corral where an official can monitor and take action. Anything on the course has a steady stream of multiple people crossing mats. With them running, however fast or slow, it would be near impossible to catch a non-beeping bib.
I really can’t believe how dishonest some people can be and then post pictures that they accomplished running the Boston marathon. This is really disgraceful. Maybe they need to make the bibs very different year from year, or have some sort of chip scan before getting into the athletes village. It would not only decrease the number of cheaters, it would also increase security as you know everyone there is an actual runner. I would felt very uneasy being in the athletes village among people wearing forged bibs.
I was surprised how many people I saw posting photos of their bibs on Facebook when the rule book stated not to. Perhaps most people didn’t read this in the rule book? I chose to wait until after the race to post photos of my bib, but I guess I’m a rule follower….
You’re right, Laura. Boston should make different looking bibs every year. They should also put them in manila envelopes, not see-through ones. They should warn runners better to not post pictures of them. On the other hand, it’s easy to get into the corrals without taking off your warm-ups, and anyone can jump in a hundred yards past the starting line if they really wanted to.
This is what somebody posted:
“at the top of page 8 in the athlete handbook (link below): “. The B.A.A. asks participants not to post close-up pictures of their bib number on social media before the race to avoid fraudulent bib duplication.”
The key words is page 8! The BAA should put this warning on the front page, in big bold letters!
A simple way to ensure that someone is a legit participant is to do what Ironman does. When you pick up your packet at the expo, they put a medical type bracket on your wrist that must remain on for the duration of the events. If it appears to tampered with of if you have no braclet, no entry into the starting corral, no exceptions. Simple but elegant solution to ensure a valid participant.
And perhaps more importantly: no bracelet, no finisher’s medal. Love this idea. Heck, even Disney does this for their challenge medals (if only they would take the integrity of their marathon results as seriously).
A bracelet could be forged too.
The women look like they could be related…? Anyone else see a resemblance?
They should all have to pay the charity. People suck.
Please take those sleuthing skills and apply them to corrupt corporations, global money laundering, drug running, or tax evaders. Please.
If corrupt corporations, money launderers, drug runners, tax evaders etc. posted their crimes all over social media maybe our paid law enforcement (certainly not Derek’s job!) could eliminate more crime and you would be happy. Until then, please take those snarky comments to another blog site. Please. 🙂
Great catch, although hopefully the person that copied/ sold the bids in the first place can be traced and identified. What these women have done is wrong, but it could be through ignorance rather than malice. For all we know, they bought the copied bibs in good faith and have no idea these are illegitimate/ charity runners numbers. It would certainly explain the lack of subtlety on social media.
I very much support Derek’s decision not to reveal identities, seems some in these comments jump to conclusions. In a previous post, Derek identified a tour company who acquired illegitimate BQ times – the people who bought those places (at hugely inflated prices) had no idea that they had been acquired illegitimately.
Not everyone lives and breaths running – there are many people out there who would not know about the process for qualifying for Boston and appreciate that most places cannot simply be bought. Indeed, Boston is fairly unique among the world majors in having such a large proportion of qualifying runners, no ballot and relatively small number of charity runners – so even experienced runners may not appreciate the difference.
I seriously doubt anyone who trains for a marathon–presumably after registering for a race–doesn’t know that bib transfers aren’t permitted. If someone were purchasing a bib through a “broker” wouldn’t they at least check the BAA site to compare prices? They may not have known these were charity bib forgeries, but they should have known they were illegally obtained.
The people paying for Boston through a tour company are foreigners who may not have known that a legitimate business was engaging in an illegal practice.
Hundreds of thousands of people run marathons for the first time every year – how can you doubt that in the vast numbers who take part, at least some won’t bother to read the rules? In this thread people have highlighted that many big races request that you do not share your race number on social media. I’ve run 10 marathons and my wife has run 19, and neither of us had noticed this (we haven’t run Boston, but I’ve looked at some of the races we have run and this rule does exist for others as well).
As to comparing prices – races like Boston fill up exceptionally quickly. I’m a foreigner, and will be running Chicago this year, and I know from personal experience that there are many options for securing entry often provided by third parties, whether they are charities or tour companies. I can perfectly see how someone who has never run Boston or another major before could stumble across an illegitimate bib without realising it. You can’t compare prices when the official channel has already sold out/ filled the qualifier allocation.
That being said, from reading Derek’s latest article today it does sound increasingly likely that these runners identified have known what they were doing.
Thus my doubt. Possible, but highly unlikely as it seems to be increasingly obvious.
This is actually the saddest thing I have ever read. I work for adidas. The company would have paid for them to race 🙁
Having run — and completed honestly — 58 marathons and never coming close to a Boston Qualifying time (male, 40s), I am absolutely LIVID at this excuse by Mark Porter. Yes, kudos for the charitable work and helping out Christian. Why not put on a race for Christian? Maybe a 10k? But to copy multiple BAA bibs and then make the excuse (wrong thing for the right reason) is akin to justifying ANY crime. “Gosh, I robbed that bank so my kids could eat.” No. Just no. Add the connection to Reebok and it smells even worse.
I may never run Boston and I’m OK with that. It is EARNED, not given. It is not a snowflake entitlement. It is not justified because you feel like you did something good for someone. Ban them ALL. And any charity whose work is predicated on deception and cheating will never see a dollar from me.
To leverage the emotional toll of Chritian and his family is unforgivable. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer and yet I have never done anything deceptive or untoward, ever cognizant that what I do today reflects upon her legacy. Rather than “run Boston for mom”, I continue to train, run, and try to reach my Boston qualifying goals. I’d rather her be proud of my attempts than disappointed in my cheating.
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