Shortly after The 2017 Mexico City Marathon, I received requests to review the results. A Facebook page popped up outing many alleged cheaters. I read comments that there were 1000’s of cheaters – runners that cut the course. I was skeptical at first. However, when I looked at the results, and the paces, the data seems to support that the unprecedented amount of missed mats were widely attributable to runners cutting the course.
There were 8 intermediate timing mats on the course, roughly every 5k.
|Missed 0 mats||17,827||64.0%|
|Missed 1 mat||3,502||12.6%|
|Missd 2 mats||1,435||5.1%|
|Missed 3 mats||1,381||5.0%|
|Missed 4 mats||1,006||3.6%|
|Missed 5 mats||766||2.7%|
|Missed 6 mats||946||3.4%|
|Missed 7 mats||719||2.6%|
|Missed 8 mats||291||1.0%|
What does this data show?
It shows that 36% of all runners missed at least 1 mat.
23.5% of all runners missed multiple mats.
Next I analysed which timing mats were missed – possibly there was an issue with a couple of timing mats that would explain this data.
|Total Runners||% of Field|
This distribution is interesting. The highest # of runners missed the early mats. The final mat – just 1.4 miles short of the finish line was only missed by 4% of the runners. All other mats were missed my a minimum of 10% of all runners.
This Facebook page lists many examples of alleged course cutters. It shows pictures of runners taking taking the subway towards the finish.
They edited the runner’s photos. I have been unable to obtain the original.
The Facebook page has hundreds of photos. They make a strong case that each of the runners listed cut the course.
I shifted my attention to The Boston Qualifiers:
|Missed 0 mats||397||30.6%|
|Missed 1 mat||89||6.9%|
|Missd 2 mats||58||4.5%|
|Missed 3 mats||171||13.2%|
|Missed 4 mats||147||11.3%|
|Missed 5 mats||132||10.2%|
|Missed 6 mats||167||12.9%|
|Missed 7 mats||106||8.2%|
|Missed 8 mats||29||2.2%|
69.4% (899 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed at least 1 mat.
62.5% (810 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed at least 2 mats.
58% (752 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed 3 or more mats.
44.8%( 581 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed 4 or more mats.
33.5% (434 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed 5 or more mats
23.3% (302 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed 6 or more mats.
10.4% (135 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed 7 or 8 mats.
2.2% (29 runners) of Boston Qualifiers missed all 8 mats.
Which mats were missed by Boston Qualifiers?
This shows an even more distinct pattern than that of the entire field. If the data picked up by the mats is accurate, many runners crossed the starting line, jumped off the course and jumped back in towards the end. The paces calculated by the timing splits seems to confirm this. For the most of the runners with multiple missed splits, the data shows unreasonable fast splits where data is missing.
A clear example of this is seen when looking at the split between 24.8 and 26.2. Most runners have a 24.8 mile split time. Comparing this split time with that for the full marathon, there are clear examples where something is wrong:
The section highlighted in yellow shows total mats registered (out of 8), the total pace for the full marathon (in minutes/mile) and the pace from 24.8 to 26.2. This list is sorted by the variance between the last split an overall pace. For example: the first runner shown finished the race in 3:09:45, but took 45:41 to traverse the last 1.4 miles. That same runner finished the 2016 Mexico City Marathon in over 6 hours.
Course cutting is not the only issue at Mexico City. A number of potential bib mules have been identified. In addition to the examples that have been posted on the Facebook group, I have identified others by looking for identical splits and checking the finish photos. Below is a clear example: It was emailed to me and also appears on the CazaTramposos Maratón Cdmx 2017 Facebook page:
You can see from this photo that the runner is wearing two bibs. The top one is registered to “Maria”. Maria is now qualified to run the 2018 Boston Marathon.
The 2018 Boston Marathon
Registration opened yesterday for the 2018 Boston Marathon. As I previously reported, the B.A.A. added this to the letter sent to all Boston Qualifying races:
If, after submitting results to the Boston Athletic Association, your event makes adjustments to results (including but not limited to disqualifying a runner or discovering a fraudulent performance), please contact the B.A.A. accordingly. The Boston Athletic Association relies upon the good faith of events to provide authentic, accurate results, and expects events to uphold standards of fair athletic competition.
We also ask for your assistance should there be a question about results from your event. This may include an active review of the results, splits, photos or videos to determine the accuracy of a result(s) associated with a particular individual(s).
I am conflicted in regards to what action I would like to see from the B.A.A. here. On one hand, the apparent cheating is so widespread, that I’d advocate that the B.A.A. revoke the qualifying status of The 2017 Mexico City Marathon. On the other hand, despite the large amount of highly questionable results, there are 100’s of runners that likely legitimately ran the full 26.2 miles under their qualifying standard.
At the very least, I expect that every single registrant that uses the 2017 Mexico City Marathon be scrutinized by the B.A.A.
Once the 2018 Boston registrants are publicly available, I will individually scrutinize runners that I am able to determine used Mexico City to qualify. I will report what I find to the B.A.A. I will reach out to the B.A.A. in an effort to work cooperatively with them to scrutinize the results. There are potentially hundreds of runners that will attempt to use Mexico City to run the 2018 Boston Marathon that did not legitimately complete the course. That means that if these runners are allowed to run Boston in 2018, hundreds of deserving runners will be left out.
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