Honolulu Marathon Continues To Side With Cheaters

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Following last year’s Honolulu Marathon, I wrote an article like many I have written before, and like many I have written since.

Honolulu is one of the largest marathons in the world. Every race has instances of cheating, and Honolulu was no exception.

In the article, I pointed out some of the most obvious examples. I was not critical of the marathon, but I was critical of the runners who disrespect the sport and the honest runners by cutting the course and claiming their medals.

The response from the race director took me by surprise.

“Any decision we make or don’t make has absolutely nothing to do with that website. We have no relationship with that website. We have no connection with that website and no communication with that website. We don’t support or condone that website, or use of photos or anything he does in any way.”
“It’s not an official website from some sports governing body,” Barahal said. “It seems to be one guy out there who decided this is what he’s going to do, to monitor seemingly all marathons. But it’s by no means an official website. It has no official standings, it’s not part of the sport or governing body of the sport.
I am used to some criticism, but what was more alarming is Barahal’s admission that cheaters are welcomed back at his race. Most race director’s take personal offense when runners attempt to cheat at their races. Most race director’s issue bans to those that attempt to cheat at their races. Honolulu welcomes them back with open arms.

While I can appreciate that no race director likes to see their race associated with cheating, nearly every other race director I’ve heard from appreciates the effort to deter cheaters.

Most races welcome information that helps them to clean up their results. Most races make an honest effort to remove cheaters from the results. Most don’t welcome back cheaters with open arms. Honolulu is not like most races.

 

On The Side of Cheaters

Instead of making an effort to remove the most obvious of course cutters and show the honest runners that Honolulu supports them and respects the sport, Honolulu made a decision which ultimately would protect dishonest runners.

Last year, it took me about one hour to detect the most obvious cheaters.

Instead of taking the time to clean up the results, Honolulu is hiding the results.  Results for the 2017 race are only searchable  on an individual basis.

If you know the runner, and their bib number, you can look up the results. There is no obvious way to verify that the age group winners were legitimate (or even who they are).

This decision eliminates the ability of the public to look at the results. Most races welcome the public scrutiny. The ultimate goal should be to protect the integrity of the results. The ultimate goal with Honolulu seems to be to protect against scrutiny.

Honolulu is positioning itself as no more than a “Fun Run”.  They are now marketing themselves to the cheaters. If you don’t want your results to be scrutinized, come to Honolulu!

I will be reaching out to the BAA. I do not want legitimate runners to be punished because of the ego of  the race director. But I do believe that it would be fair to ask that Honolulu be required to provide additional evidence that all of their Boston ‘19 submissions completed the course legitimately.

To those that say people don’t run Honolulu to qualify for Boston, that’s not true. Despite my efforts last year, at least two runners were registered for Boston that cut the course in Honolulu. They were only disqualified after the BAA was informed.

Boston has taken additional steps and has notified all BQ eligible races that they may request additional confirmation to validate times. This is a case where such scrutiny is necessary.

Despite their efforts, I was able to obtain a full list of results, including split data. I will post a full, detailed analysis of the results next week. The results that were pulled are marked as official.

 

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19 COMMENTS

  1. “Despite their efforts, I was able to obtain a full list of results, including split data. I will post a full, detailed analysis of the results next week. The results that were pulled are marked as official.”

    Ha! I knew you’d figure out a way to do that Derek. Just didn’t think you’d get it in less than a week. Impressive.

    If I’m the BAA actions like Honolulu is taking are probably the tipping point where I start to put more restrictions on what a runner needs to do to earn a BQ. Forever it’s been “any marathon race run on a certified course” can qualify. Would not be surprised if in the future they added that the “race” has to have a certain number of finishers (to exclude those tiny marathons that have popped up the last decade) and that the race has to publish results online.

  2. This marathon’s new policy of not providing complete race results is so wrong on many levels. How do runners compare their placing within their age group? Did 2nd place in an age group lose by 2 seconds, 20 seconds, 2 minutes? I’d be pissed if full results (like every other race) aren’t provided.

    And of course the whole cheating angle. BAA must insist on results transparency, or not allow any BQs from Honolulu. Anything short of this cheats qualified runners out of hard-earned entries.

    • Agreed, BAA should eliminate it as a qualifier, even for beyond 2019, if results can’t be seen and/or verified. It just becomes a cheater’s dream race. Good work on getting full results, Derek. We’re all looking forward to the next installment of the Honolulu saga. Shame on the RD’s imperious attitude.

  3. Keep speaking truth to power Derek. Their vehemence is validation that what you are doing is just and meaningful. Although I’m 20 minutes shy of a BQ, running Boston is one of my life goals. And as others should do, I’ve just sent you another small donation.

  4. The BAA should threaten Honolulu (or any race that does not follow open and honest scrutiny), to strip them of being a certified Boston Qualifying race. . As far as claiming you are not part of any governing body, it’s time for the BAA and other clubs to step forward and support you and help with resources.

  5. My first thought when I could not get AG results was that they were avoiding you. You picked out the 3 obvious cheaters ahead of me last year. This year I only have a single number (out of what?).

  6. “I am used to some criticism, but what was more alarming is Barahal’s admission that cheaters are welcomed back at his race. Most race director’s take personal offense when runners attempt to cheat at their races”

    This is a primary example of an RD caring more about his own wallet than the integrity of his race….

    The irony is that while you openly invite cheaters to run your race, you are probably going to lose more money by people not registering for your race due to your cheater-friendly mentality (thank to sites like this). I, and many others that frequent this site, would NEVER run a race where the RD doesn’t care about cheaters (looking at you Philly, Honolulu, Lehigh Valley).

  7. I am disappointed in the Honolulu Marathon. I have run it 3 times now and it progressively gets worse. The sponsors are horrible! In 2015 the medals were about the size of a dog-tag. This year the t-shirts for purchase at the expo were terrible…you didn’t even know it was associated with the marathon once you got past all the marketing on it! There was an article in the paper about how many people got hurt from stepping in potholes. They didn’t even bother to unlock the park bathrooms for the runners to use…but they reserved port-a-potties for high paying tour groups there to do the run. The photo company was a Japanese company that took a full 5 days to post any photos, half their website was in Japanese…and I will NOT pay 3,780 YEN for 1 photo…they didn’t even bother to do the conversion for us.

    This race should not be a BQ race…it is a destination race and money maker race for the city. They cater to the large groups from Japan who come on vacation and run a marathon. I am leaving the island this year and I a not sorry that was my last one.

  8. “Any decision we make or don’t make has absolutely nothing to do with that website. We have no relationship with that website. We have no connection with that website and no communication with that website. We don’t support or condone that website, or use of photos or anything he does in any way.”
    “It’s not an official website from some sports governing body,” Barahal said. “It seems to be one guy out there who decided this is what he’s going to do, to monitor seemingly all marathons. But it’s by no means an official website. It has no official standings, it’s not part of the sport or governing body of the sport.

    Hahahaha, I fully understand this race director! Cool reaction from him. Its true: one guy working from his basement and accusing hobby runners of cheating if it’s the worst thing in the world. This is so funny!!!

    • Hahahaha, I fully understand this arm chair commenter! Cool reaction from him. Its [sic] true: One guy sitting behind his computer, making fun of someone who parlayed his skills and hobby of calling out marathon cheaters into a successful side business, as if it’s something to look down upon. This is so funny!!! (And kudos to Derek for having a thick skin, unlike some RDs.)

      FWIW, I just ran the Honolulu Marathon. It was very much a destination race for Japanese tourists who made up 40% of the entrants. Most of them are there to have a good time and not necessarily to finish, much less PR. As a result, this is a slow (and congested) race where my finish time was top 1/3 overall. (As a point of comparison, my finish time at RnR SD would’ve been in the bottom 1/3.) Since these slow, tourist runners are the bread and butter of this marathon, I kind of understand why the RD wouldn’t want someone to call out these people as cheaters. I also don’t begrudge these course-cutting tourist runners of their finisher’s medal or t-shirt, if they’re cutting the course for that reason. But those who cut the course to cheat their way to a BQ deserve to be publicized for what they are, cheaters. Keep up the good work, MI, and Happy Holidays!

    • They made the ‘full’ reaults Searchable after I posted the article.

      Also, as I am sure you noticed, split data is not available at all.

      This is actually a step backwards as there is no way for the public to check a runner’s splits.

      They did issue some DQs after this post. An updated article will be published after The New Year.

  9. Not sure if you read this late comment but regarding “Most race director’s issue bans to those that attempt to cheat at their races.”:

    I’m afraid not even Boston does this, e.g. Alexander Schwarz, who cheated at Boston 2017 (and was removed from the results, so organizers acknowledged his cheating) was allowed to enter Boston 2018.

  10. Derek — I’m a full-time race director and I applaud your efforts to keep the sport clean. I share your frustration when race directors and timing companies go out of their way to obfuscate the results. They’re either hiding cheaters (possibly the case here) but more often they are hiding notable declines in overall participation levels. They don’t like sponsors, competitors or loyal participants seeing this since it affects the perceived popularity of the event. With regards to the Mexico and Honolulu Marathon, I’ll add this comment — Part of the reason for the high level of cheating at the Mexico and Honolulu Marathon may be due to different cultural perspectives on the issue by Hispanics (Mexico Marathon) and Japanese (Honolulu Marathon). I studied overseas in Europe with Mexican and Japanese students. I quickly learned that rampant cheating in their culture was an accepted norm. They ALL regularly collaborated openly with one another during exams while the American students looked on in shock. Simply put, they don’t share the cultural stigma Americans and other cultures assign to the issue. In a certain sense, they place a higher value on the ultimate goal, whether it is passing a test or crossing the finish line and getting a medal and an official finish time. I’ll probably be called a racist for these comments but I maintain it is a bona fide cultural difference and you will continue to see these aberrations at those races every year.

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