Despite My best efforts, and the efforts of those that report suspected cheaters. I know that we cannot prevent all those that cheated in their qualifiers from running Boston. I try to identify as many as is possible from entering Boston. Sometimes cheating is suspected, but there is nothing definitive that would justify a disqualification. I keep an eye on those runners, and look for patterns and better evidence if there are more suspicious results.
By publicizing some of the most egregious cases of cheating, the goal is to have a bigger effect by deterring runners from attempting to cheat in the first place. The goal is also to push races to to do more to catch and disqualify cheaters. I feel these efforts have been fairly successful. While there were some fairly high profile instances of cheaters getting into The 2017 Boston Marathon, I found a smaller number of cheaters than I had the past 2 years actually get into Boston.
More of my time was spent reviewing qualifying marathons ahead of the race than was spent looking backwards after Boston. I believe this helped to prevent runners from entering Boston in the first place.
What is frustrating is when there are runners that clearly cheated and they are allowed to compete.
Walt Disney World Marathon
I’ve written about Maureen multiple times. She has been disqualified from a couple of races, and she has multiple questionable results at The Walt Disney World Marathon over the years. Apparently Run Disney believes that she ran a 5k stretch in the middle of the marathon at a pace faster than her best standalone 5k race. They believe her excuses. She had stomach issues so she ran fast to get from porta-potty to porta-potty. More likely they just don’t care. The BAA still relies on the qualifying races to make the final determination regarding cheating.
Also, many are under the impression that if a runner has participated in 10 consecutive Boston Marathons that they are exempted from qualifying. That is not the case. However runners with 10 consecutive marathons are allowed to register outside the normal process. They only need to run under the published standard to gain entry.
Los Angeles Marathon
The LA Marathon has been responsive in most cases. Leading up to the 2017 Boston Marathon, they were instrumental in having a runner disqualified and removed from Boston just before the race, I reported this runner and they did not feel there was enough information to DQ. I asked the BAA to take a look, and for weeks, the runner remained on the entry list but did not have a bib number assigned. I thought he was being removed. When I checked the registration list last night he was assigned a bib.
Below are his recent race times
4:58:XX Long Beach
5:10:XX Los Angeles
6:02:XX Long Beach
3:29:XX Los Angeles
Without even looking at the splits, the 2017 LA Marathon result stands out like a sore thumb. But, let’s look at the splits.
The start of the race is about what you would expect from a 5 hour marathoner. The 3.1 to 6.2 split seems fast, and the next 2 splits seem highly unlikely. I checked his other marathons and did not see any splits approaching even 7 minute miles. A 5 to 6 hour marathoner is unlikely to run consecutive sub 7 minute splits.
The map shows some opportunities to cut early in the race. I speculate that he MAY have cut a little bit off during the first 10k, but the real question is after the 10k point. The 10k point (6.2 miles) is not far from the start of the course. He could have feasibly taken transportation along the point to point course. It is worth noting that he only appears in photos along two sections of the course.
I have identified runners that had swapped bibs in 2015 that are participants in the 2018 race. Boston was not as strict in regards to bib swapping as they are now. I will be checking there runner’s photos to make sure that they do not repeat their bib swapping. These runners did not receive the same harsh punishment that as Gia Alvarez, the blogger who gave away her 2015 bib. As I wrote at the time, her ban was for using her friend’s time to qualify herself to run Boston, not for the actual act of giving her bib away. Her friend faced no sanctions.
Given the BAAs stricter policy, I would plead with runners to not sell their Boston bibs. If you do so in 2018, you will be banned. I have a new method in place that will allow me to quickly identify likely bib swappers. I have more access to data now than I ever have, and expect to be much more efficient in my review – particularly in regards to bib swapping.
There are more runners than the two above that I am highly suspicious of. Some just came to my attention within the last 48 hours, and I don’t yet have all the evidence necessary to advocate for disqualifications. I will be carefully tracking these runners in Boston and going forward.
Tomorrow I will go into some detail regarding some new techniques that I am starting to test and implement to identify even more cheaters before they get a chance to register for Boston.
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