Runner With 12 Consecutive Boston Starts Has Many Questionable Qualifiers

Maureen Spinler has competed in every Boston Marathon since 2005. She is registered to run Boston again in 2018.

Maureen Spinler has competed in every Boston Marathon since 2005. She is registered to run Boston again in 2018.

I first stumbled across Maureen’s results after the 2017 Disney World Marathon. It was at that race that she earned the time that qualified her for Boston 2018.

She had used Disney to qualify for all of her recent Boston Marathons. As reported here previously, she missed the 20 mile split in 2013,2015 and 2016. She missed no splits in 2017, but I will make the case that the accuracy of her qualifying time in 2017 is unlikely. Split data is unavailable from Disney before 2013.

Maureen denies ever cutting the course at Disney or any other course:

…I Did not cut any course, ever

 

 

Walt Disney World Marathon

The most common place to cut the course at Disney in at Wide World of Sports. Cutting this portion results in missing the 20 mile timing checkpoint. Over 200 runners missed the 20 mile checkpoint in 2017.

There is the opportunity to turn around between miles 16 and 17, cutting between 3 and 4 miles off the course. Maureen missed this split at least 3 times.

Maureen’s explanation for 2016 is that during the latter part of the race she took off her shirt (and bib) and ran in her sports bra, likely resulting in the missed split. It would have been in the high 60’s to low 70’s at that point in the  race. Temperatures were slightly warmer in 2015 when she also missed the split. In 2013, it was about 55 degrees when she should have been crossing the 20 mile checkpoint. It seems less than likely that she would have removed her shirt that morning.

She says she contacted Run Disney after noticing the 2016 missed split:

Noticed over the summertime that there was no 20 mile split.   Contacted rundisney and explained that because of the heat and direct sunshine, I took my shirt off and ran in sports bra.   I was so used to having chip on shoe, it never crossed my mind since so many races still use this.  Chip/bib was on my shirt in my hand.  I tend to take my shirt off between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood, do to the direct sun, heat and use it as a sweat rag or at any race where it is very hot and humid.

For those years, it really comes down to whether you believe her story. Notably, for 2015 and 2016, she stopped for character photos. She also stopped for photos with characters in 2014 and did not miss any splits.

2013 Splits:

mile time total pace split pace
5 0:43:28 0:08:42 0:08:42
10 1:28:12 0:08:49 0:08:57
13.1 1:56:13 0:08:52 0:09:02
20 missed
26.2 3:44:58 0:08:35 0:08:18

Up until the missed split she was steadily slowing down. Her official time shows a negative split. It also shows a faster time for the 2nd half of the race than for any of the 1st 3 splits.

2015 Splits

mile time total pace split pace
5 0:44:10 0:08:50 0:08:50
10 1:26:24 0:08:38 0:08:27
13.1 1:55:31 0:08:49 0:09:24
20 missed
26.2 3:50:03 0:08:47 0:08:45

She slowed significantly from mile 10 to 13.1, missed the 20 mile split and again finished with an overall negative split from 13.1 until the finish.

2016 Splits

mile time total pace split pace
5 0:42:29 0:08:30 0:08:30
10 1:26:56 0:08:42 0:08:53
13.1 1:52:57 0:08:37 0:08:24
20 missed
26.2 3:50:51 0:08:49 0:09:00

This time, her splits are more ‘normal’.  The negative splits of the prior years are more questionable. Had the 2016 result been the only instance of missed splits, I would give Maureen the benefit of the doubt. The entire reason these prior results came under scrutiny were because of her 2017 marathon result. She is using the 2017 entry as her 2018 Boston qualifier.

mile time total pace split pace
5 0:43:41 0:08:44 0:08:44
10 1:27:38 0:08:46 0:08:47
13.1 1:46:05 0:08:06 0:05:57
20 2:49:52 0:08:30 0:09:15
26.2 3:47:24 0:08:41 0:09:16

This was her fastest time since 2013. Her split from 10 to 13.1 was unusually fast. She ran that 5k in 18:27.

On athlinks, she has dozens of 5k results. I went back to 2009. The fastest 5k I found was 22:05.  According to the Disney results, she ran miles 10 through 13.1 over 2-1/2 minutes faster than her fastest 5k race.

Maureen offered an explanation: She said she had stomach issues:

Basically did a brisker 5K type pace from porta potty to watching for and using the the next porta potty to watching for and using the next porta potty.

She again denied cutting the course:

 I looked up the course and I don’t know how you could shorten anything without ending in a swamp or the woods.  The section you are referring to was one of the most boring out and backs to near an overpass. The section you are referring to was one of the most boring out and backs to near an overpass  It’s also very dark out there in the morning and you just follow the people in front of you and watch the for the road exposed road reflectors, except this time keeping eyes peeled for the porta potties and bathrooms in the parks.

She explains this implausible (impossible) split with stomach issues. If you believe this explanation, she ran faster because she was in a hurry to get to the next porta-potties. Presumably, she actually stopped at those porta potties. So, even with stopping multiple times, she managed a 5:57 pace for those 3.1 miles.

Other Races

Since The 2017 WDW Marathon, Maureen has been disqualified from two races.

Michigan 13.Wine Half Marathon August 20, 2017

I’ve written about Maureen’s disqualification at Michigan Wine.13 Half Marathon. To summarize: the owner Brad Krugler, emailed me after Maureen was disqualified from winning the 1/2 Marathon. She was witnessed standing on the side of the road around mile 12. Based on statements of officers and the other runners, she was disqualified.

Maureen provided me with a detailed explanation of those events.

She said that she was ill and was instructed to only run 10 miles by her physician. She claims she told the race at packet pickup and that they instructed her to make sure she started and finished the race so that they would know that she was O.K.

I asked what was required and they went to ask someone and came back and told me to start and finish so they knew I was not still out there on the side of road and then tell the timing people that I did not complete the whole race and to remove my name.   That is what I did.    I ran out 5 miles, turned around.   MANY, many people saw me and asked if I was ok.   Explained what was going on and people offered me water, gatorade, energy gels and encouragement.  One female runner even offered to stay with me.   I told every police man or ems that was guarding the corners or people at water stops the above info and that I was not cutting the course.   When I finished, yes I did talk to the timing people.  

I do question how a doctor would determine that it was OK to run 10 miles but not 13.1. It is also worth noting, that according to Maureen, she ran 10 miles.

Her initial finish time was 1:41. That is a 10:06 minute per mile pace over 10 miles. Not a blistering pace, but she was witnessed stopped on the side of the course prior to crossing the finish line. Also her description of people offering to stay with her and to help leads me to believe that she was struggling.

I shared Maureen’s account with Brad: He disputes her story:

The only plausible part of that is picking up the packet on race morning. Anything out of the ordinary (like someone asking to run part of the course) is filtered directly through me. My wife runs packet pick up and she would have had the conversation with the timing group and myself. I had our main command officers ask each officer stationed at each corner if they saw anything unusual, people taking wrong turns, etc… and only the one officer mentioned seeing someone coming down the street from a different direction. That was the officer who said he wasn’t paying attention and didn’t have a description. I sent notes to each jurisdiction covering every corner to inquire about anything out of the ordinary and nobody mentioned speaking to a runner. If she did take the route she claims, it would have been out and back. As you are aware from previous emails, I spoke to all aid station captains. It seems odd that nobody mentioned having conversations with a person saying they are not cutting the course. I spent considerable time with the timing group and they never mentioned anyone asking to be removed from the results. In fact the timing people were reluctant to remove her but I insisted. 

Chicago Marathon October 8, 2017

Maureen ran a time of 4:03:22 which would have qualified her for the 2019 Boston Marathon.

 

Her pace between 25k and 35k  was 8:48 per mile.  Her previous split was 10 minutes per mile. After the missed split, she averaged over 11 minutes per mile. Prior to missing the 30k split, her pace was steadily slowing.

After reviewing her time, Chicago disqualified Maureen.

Maureen also responded to my questions regarding Chicago:

And to Chicago marathon.   Somewhere after the energy gel stop in Little Italy, suffered a major left hamstring cramp.  Had to stop and massage the golf ball size lump in muscle belly and apply biofreeze which surprisingly resolved in a few seconds.  Started running again and came to a screeching halt nearly tripping 3 people.  Stepped aside, gave it a couple of seconds, and it went down again and proceeded to painfully walk/run a few steps at a time and almost tripped more people.  I tried to stay to the right so I wasn’t in anyone’s way and there a police officer told me to get to the sidewalk and walk it off, do not walk next to the traffic and stay out of the way. I looked at him, and he said “sidewalk” and pointed.    I obeyed him.  Did a walk/run on sidewalk as ordered until I could no longer see him and promptly got back on to the street near the end of the block.   FYI – hamstring is still tight 2 weeks later,  but loosening.  Never ever realized I missed a tracker somewhere. 

Little Italy is where she missed the split. Maureen wrote of painful cramps/starting/stopping. But, like with Disney, ran her fastest times while ill/injured. In my opinion, her explanation is completely illogical. I think it is very likely that she continued south on Halstead, cutting  approximately 2 miles from the course.

 

Conclusion

Maureen offered very detailed explanations regarding her history of missed splits. But those explanations simply do not hold up to scrutiny. I was able to originally make contact with Maureen through Team In Training (TNT). Maureen was initially harsh in her response. “I have not cut a course, EVER!..I want this matter cleared up, retracted and stopped immediately”.

After laying out the evidence, Maureen replied with the responses that I inserted throughout the article.

My last communication from Maureen was October 21st. I responded to her in December stating my conclusions and offering her a chance to respond further. She never replied. I also email her on February 27th informing her of the pending article and giving her a final opportunity to respond to my conclusions.

One last point – she once again ran The Walt Disney World Marathon. For the first time in years, she did not run a Boston Qualifying time. She finished in 4:39:45. Running this as the last leg of The Dopey Challenge.

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2018 Boston Marathon
40 Comments on this post.
  • Katastrophic
    8 March 2018 at 10:02 am

    The effort involved in coming up with these elaborate excuses could very well be used for more training or going to PT for these issues she begins to have during races. It makes me sad she’s been falsely taking a spot in Boston for so many years. I’m assuming when she runs Boston, she never actually re-qualifies there.

  • Gui
    8 March 2018 at 11:24 am

    I’ve been running for +10 years and I’ve ran races in many countries using different tracking systems. I’m yet to miss a split! What strikes me is how often it happens to some people. I wouldn’t doubt your results if you missed one split, but when you miss splits in ALL your races, I’m sorry.. you are cheating! I know this wouldn’t fix the problem, but Boston qualifier races should have random hidden cameras across the race of at least at key checkpoints. This way the race directors could go back and see if the time you crossed those cameras match your pace and results. Yeah, it’s expensive.. but I’m so tired of cheaters!

    • Larissa
      13 March 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Of the 44 marathons, and 40+ 21ks, and 5ks and 10ks I’ve raced, I’ve only had two marathons where they didn’t register me finishing on the timing mat. Despite those two times out of a 100 races or so, there are finisher photos of me crossing that mat; proof! Sure timing mats don’t always pick every chip, but it’s a tiny fraction of the population. What she is missing is PROOF! Usually where those timing mats are located on the courses, are event photographers to follow. My girlfriend, who raced Seattle for a BQ and I was her pacer, so I was with the whole time, her chip malfunctioned from beginning to end. Not missed one mat here, one there. But there were cameras that matched up to her watch’s splits and photos of me with her, so they could confirm her finishing time and her legit BQ for last year’s boston.

      Like you said, one person who has this much bad luck, means something else. She’s nuts to think anyone would believe her tripe!

  • Jimbo
    8 March 2018 at 12:04 pm

    She’s full of BS.
    Even if she took her shirt off and ran with it, it should have registered on timing. It’s really no different than wearing it to a RFID reader.

    • Joe Murphy
      12 March 2018 at 9:16 am

      Not that I believe her excuse but I would certainly believe that holding the shirt may cause timing issues. Twice I have ran a local race with the chip in my pocket instead of on my shoe as recommended. Both times I missed every mat and received a DNS.

      • e
        3 April 2018 at 10:16 am

        Curious why you wouldn’t put it on your shoe as requested?

  • PT
    8 March 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Athlinks has me down for more than 80 races. In those 80+ races, some of which are tiny, I have 0 missed mats.

    I’m pretty curious to know how many suspected cheaters there are in the Boston field. (Names unnecessary, just as a % or total)

    Or… when I get bumped next year, how mad should I be?

    (Of course, I really should just suck it up and get faster, heh…)

    • Karger
      8 March 2018 at 12:50 pm

      It’s absolutely a legit question. It’s why I think Boston is a joke. if you were a 30 year old male and ran a 3:03 marathon, you didn’t qualify for boston in 2018! That’s ridiculous. Not to mention the 30 minute slower qualifying time for females. Throw in the charity runners and you have hundreds of BQ’ers not getting in. It’s a joke.

      • Larissa
        13 March 2018 at 3:28 pm

        You do realize there is a significant component why females and males have different qualifying times? Why elite/pro females and elite/pro males finish a good 20-30 minutes apart

        The charity bibs are a small selection, and they start in the very last wave.

        Sounds like you really want to be part of Boston but just have not gotten in yet w/ a qualifier. Hope you do one day . It’s really the olympic race for us non-pros.

        • Karger
          13 March 2018 at 5:37 pm

          I missed the cutoff by 30 seconds one year. That means I qualified, but because of field size limitations, i did not get in. That is ridiculous given the obvious number of cheaters that get into the race.

          You need to a bit more research on the differential between men and women when it comes to amateur finish times. I assure the disparity is no where near 30 minutes. I don’t have the time to educate you on this.

          What difference does it make where the charity bib people start? Regardless, you’re wrong, because I was offered a charity bib and to entice me to accept, they said I could start in the corral associated with my BQ time.

          Regardless, I did BQ again, This time by slightly more than 10 minutes. So I am almost assured of getting in this time (though there are no guearantees since Boston is such a joke). But to be honest, given how I know a plethora of fabulous runners that have qualified, but are not allowed to run because of the Bostons stupid rules, I may just pass on it.

          And if you think this is the “olympic” race for non-pros, you simply have not run in enough marathons. I give you this, Boston is by far the Social Media queen of marathons, only elevated because of its qualifying standards. You get rid of the qualifying standards, and it’s a ho-hum race.

          • Karen
            14 March 2018 at 10:52 am

            It is the Olympics for amateurs because it is the only marathon which requires a qualifying time for 80% of the participants. This is true no matter how many marathons Larissa runs. You would have to learn more about marathons to know a well known fact like this, bitter dude. What makes a ho hum marathon? Boston is great because of the crowd and because it is so hard to qualify for most people. I have never run another marathon like it where everyone around you runs at the same pace. It is pretty cool.

            I bet you did one of those slacker downhill marathons to get the 10 minute BQ time. If you want to whine about unfairness, you should target those ridiculous downhill courses before beating down women. Now try to requalify at Boston. Yeah. Less than half of those running Boston can requalify so I call bullshit on downhill qualifiers.

          • Katherine
            28 March 2018 at 12:02 am

            Whoa downhill marathons are not slacker marathons. I have never done one but my understanding is that you need some serious leg strength. Downhill hurts and blows your quads if you’re not trained properly!
            Ok just wanted to say that. I think I’d be too scared to sign up for a marathon with significant downhill. My quads hurt at the thought of it.

      • Karen
        14 March 2018 at 10:43 am

        Another fool spouting off his mouth with zero evidence. This horse has been beaten to death over the years. Google this and you will find that with the 30 minute discrepancy, much less than 50% of Boston registrants are female. So you want to make the ratio worse? Also, once you hit the age of 50, it becomes much harder for women to qualify, compared to men. And the discrepancy gets worse as they get older to the point where women need to be world class to get in after 80 whereas men just have to be average. Take a look at the results from any Boston year. Where are all the older women compared to the men?

        Of course no woman ever complains about how men get an advantage after 50. Let me be the first.

        Train harder instead of whining. Your easy qualification day will come. You just have to wait until you are 50.

        • Karger
          23 March 2018 at 12:24 pm

          Are you 15 years old?

        • Karger
          23 March 2018 at 12:26 pm

          You do realize that Boston is a downhill race, right?! Oh man, what a dummy…..The fact that you didn’t even know that and considering that you are probably in your teens, I will leave you alone. Go play with your barbies and have a good day.

          • Wendy
            3 April 2018 at 10:02 am

            Karger, why do you bother attempting to qualify for Boston or trying to register ever? It sounds like you absolutely despise the race and everything about it. Since it’s the dream of thousands of runners, maybe you shouldn’t worry about it at all and let them have it. Why so bitter? It’s bad for your heart. Take care of yourself man.

  • Big Wick
    8 March 2018 at 1:07 pm

    MaurEEn – double letters 🙄

    Some of these explanations seem to be made with big dirty shovels. Do their friends help them out of those deep holes? I can’t imagine how one could or would justify reasonable allegations to their social or running circles.

    Of course, there’s always the Patty and Kelly route, disappearing from all media and web presence.

    • randy
      8 March 2018 at 4:14 pm

      “MaurEEn – double letters 🙄”

      SEE!!!

      Certainly, not EVERY person who has a name with double letters is a cheat, and not ALL cheaters have double letters, and not every cheater is getting CAUGHT, but it sure seems like a lot of the cheaters who ARE getting caught have double letters

      Make of all that what you will

  • sarah
    8 March 2018 at 1:07 pm

    I’ve done countless races (from 5k to marathons) and only missed one split ever and that was due to my jacket covering my bib… it does happen… but the same split in the same race multiple years in a row? DQs from 2 races? She’s not an ethical runner… which I think is more important than being a BQ qualifier.

    Quit cheapening our sport and run every step of every race, cover the whole course.

  • ALAN
    8 March 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Did Disney in 2016 and although the weather was around 70, the humidity stayed between 95-99% and it was by far the most obscenely icky race I’ve done in my life. Shirt coming off seems plausible. IIRC the winner was about 20 minutes slower than usual that year and I ran 20 min faster at my next marathon 4 months later.

    Can’t comment on the others.

    Thanks again for your work here.

  • Justin
    8 March 2018 at 8:55 pm

    I always run sub-6 minute miles during those parts of marathons when I have GI distress. Doesn’t everyone?

    • mucho dean arro
      9 March 2018 at 12:22 pm

      and that includes your time in the porta-potty

    • Tower
      10 March 2018 at 2:01 pm

      That is a pretty hysterical excuse for any of us who have had a bad race due to GI issues. I’ve certainly never had a GOOD race when I had to spend time in the potty. I have a friend who is a multiple marathon winner and multiple Boston participant and he just went 30 min over his planned pace due to a bad day in the potties. C’mon lady.

  • Raddison
    9 March 2018 at 7:49 am

    So, if having stomach issues and needing to get to the next port-a-potty causes you to smash your 5K PB by over three minutes, then laxatives must surely be added to the WADA forbidden list of PEDs. Mind you, this does explain why there are port-a-potties next to the track and lined up at the finish line of the Olympic stadium. It also explains why Usain Bolt was holding a roll of toilet paper during his gold medal runs.

  • Ray
    9 March 2018 at 8:58 am

    It’s pretty obvious where she cut the course. The 2017 Disney course had a small detour out-and-back along Western Way between miles 10 and 13.1. When the runners headed south on Bear Island Road, all she had to do was stop, cross Western Way (instead of heading west like she was supposed to), and then keep heading south on Bear Island Road until she rejoined the course. That cuts off over a mile of the course. I’ve run a dozen Disney races, and literally no one would notice someone doing this if they were subtle about it.

  • Runnergal
    9 March 2018 at 9:31 am

    To all those people who cannot believe anyone could miss a timing mat without being a cheat, it’s happened to me at least 4 times in all my many, many races. Once at the finish line of a 10k where I would have had a legitimate chance of an AG award. Same race group put on a marathon where my chip didn’t register at a mid-course mat. And more recently at another marathon where it didn’t read two of the mats. One of those times I had a jacket tied around my waist so suspect that was the cause, but I have no idea why the others didn’t read. But, but, but . . . NONE of my splits for the missed portions would have showed any faster times and my Garmin would have backed me up if questioned. So, chip/mat problems can and do happen.

    Derek’s statistical anaysis does a great job of weeding out the simple chip errors from the cheats. And this gal is a cheat!! Shame on her and on Disney for not DQ’ing her.

    • stan
      11 March 2018 at 6:14 pm

      Agree with all of this. I’ve done about 65 races, and there are a handful where I’ve ended up with a few missing intermediate splits and no idea why. Like runnergal, though, none of my splits were weird and my Garmin would have backed me up for every race for the past 8 years. I also agree that Derek does a good job of weeding out chip errors from cheats. The 2013, 2015, and 2016 splits for Spinler seem questionable but plausible. Chicago & Michigan — whatever, but if Chicago has chosen to DQ her, that’s not something they do lightly and I’m inclined to side with them.

      But the 5:57/mile split in 2017 plus the GI issues excuse seems like the smoking gun. I’ve had a more running GI issues than anyone should, and in my experience, that’s (unfortunately) not at all how GI issues work. Might explain an unnaturally fast 100-yard sprint, but not an unnaturally fast 5k split.

      • Kevin
        3 April 2018 at 1:56 pm

        You got to love how none of these people accused of short-cutting courses can ever produce a gps track of what they actually ran – not one – suspicious in the extreme

  • Jon
    9 March 2018 at 9:35 am

    I guess the allure of wearing that Boston Marathon jacket and thinking people think you are some great runner is worth more to you than being an honest runner.

    • randy
      11 March 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Mike Rossi agrees

  • John M.
    9 March 2018 at 9:53 am

    It never ceases to amaze me the lies these people will spin when they are caught cheating. GI problems caused you to run freakishly fast? Taking off your shirt caused your split to get missed? Do these people really think we are that stupid or are they so desperate to avoid admitted the obvious truth they will say anything?

    • Charlie
      11 March 2018 at 7:28 am

      No they don’t think we are that stupid. THEY are that stupid. They are so ignorant about running, they don’t realize how preposterous their excuses are.

  • Renee
    9 March 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Contributed. This is great work. Thank you!

  • David
    9 March 2018 at 2:35 pm

    The number of women in the 50+ age group who can run 18:27 for a standalone 5k is tiny, let alone in the middle of a marathon. For example only 7 or 8 V50 women in the UK have ever achieved this 5k time, and one of them once held the 5000m world record and most of the rest are regular winners or medallists on the European and World Masters circuit and run marathons in under three hours. I’m at a loss to understand how she thinks anyone would believe her explanation that she ran briskly to find a toilet!

  • Mike
    9 March 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve taken off my shirt during many, many races (I’m a guy, so no bra). I’ve never missed a timing mat because of that. Whether the shirt is in my hand or tucked into my shorts, as long as the timing tag crosses the reader, it gets picked up.

    I’ve only missed getting recorded twice in hundreds of races and I was fully dressed both times. One occurrence came in a race where my tag was faulty and it didn’t register at the start, finish or any points along the way (grrrr); the other was the result of a brief failure by the timing system, which affected me and a few dozen runners around me.

    I call BS on her.

  • DM
    10 March 2018 at 9:03 pm

    Typical classic defense responses – very wordy and nonsensical. Classic pattern of multiple missed mats and even a couple dq’s. But, you gotta love the somewhat creative excuses – the stomach-cramps-impending diarrhea-gotta-find-a-porta-potty made me go faster one is new. I also like the massive muscle cramp causing a golfball sized lump which also miraculously resolved w a quick application of biofreeze(which just cools your skin, smells like menthol and does nothing else, a real scam). The transient lump makes no physiologic sense. Complete nonsense. Sad, really.

  • Larry
    12 March 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I would bet a month’s pay that she cant run a single mile in the 5’s. If she would like to show up to a track somewhere to prove it I would gladly put up the money should she run a 5.59 or better mile.

    • stan
      14 March 2018 at 4:19 pm

      She will stop at Taco Bell on the way, then Starbucks, and then you will see a 5:01 mile, followed by a world-record sprint to the bathroom.

  • Bob
    24 March 2018 at 1:13 pm

    She is so full of crap, its a wonder how she’s able to hobby jog at all.

  • Greg M
    29 March 2018 at 11:29 am

    And this woman is a *coach*????!!! How terribly embarrassing for TNT.

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