Runners With Questionable Qualifiers Allowed To Run in Boston

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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.

Runner with 12 Consecutive Boston Starts Has Many Questionable Qualifiers

 

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

2015
4:58:XX Long Beach
5:10:XX Los Angeles

2016
6:02:XX Long Beach

2017
5:52:XX DIsney
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.

Mile Net time Total Pace Split Pace
3.1 0:28:47 0:09:16 0:09:16
6.2 0:53:56 0:08:41 0:08:06
9.3 1:13:40 0:07:54 0:06:21
12.4 1:34:53 0:07:38 0:06:50
15.5 2:06:50 0:08:10 0:10:17
18.6 2:34:42 0:08:18 0:08:58
21.7 3:02:41 0:08:24 0:09:00
24.9 3:27:35 0:08:21 0:08:01
26.2 3:43:46 0:08:32 0:12:02

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.

Bib Swappers

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.

Summary

 

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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One Time Contribution

12 COMMENTS

  1. Well, imho, the problem here is not Boston but all these races that failed to disqualify these cheaters. If Walt Disney certified that Maureen did run a Marathon with an qualifying time, how can Boston deny her application for a bib?

    • I have seen many runners cross the highway at the Disney races and it would be so easy to do. Also, there are portapotties in the median, so simply use the toilet, then go to the other side of the road. Disney needs to really look at the runners who miss splits……super unfair to those of us who play by the rules.

  2. This just strengthens my view that the BAA and Boston Marathon is an absolute joke. If you qualified, you should get in. Just that simple. No more stupid cutoffs. Cause we will always have cheaters. That is inevitable. How can you deny a spot to a 25 year old male that ran a 3:03 marathon but not to one of the idiots above?!

    Call me a dick all you want. BAA is a joke.

    • I like it! Where do you think they should set the qualifying times? I say let’s go back to the 1980 standards; men 19-39 2:50:00, men 40+ 3:10:00, women all ages 3:20:00. How do you think that would go over??

      • I would suggest a split system. Install qualifying standards for the sub-elite, say men 19-39 2:40:00, men 40+ 3:00:00, women 19-39 3:00:00, women 40+ 3:15:00,and then have a lottery for the remaining places. You could even insist on two qualifying races with the second not necessarily being a marathon, a 1/2 or 10K would be OK, but the result must be compatible in terms of ability.

        The standards set should be such that the number trying to gain entry through the qualifying time system should be manageable such that proper checks can be carried out to ensure they are legitimate. Everyone else goes through the lottery.

      • Just look at the Berlin Marathon qualifying times, men 18-44 2:45:00, men 45-59 2:55:00, men 60+ 3:25:00, and women 18-44 3:00:00, women 45-59 3:20:00, women 60+ 4:10:00, with all other runners able to enter the ballot, or run for a charity etc.

        • Walter: Boston does not accept ballot entries. There is no lottery to get into Boston. So your post makes no sense at all, at least as it pertains to my original post.

      • Joe, you don’t get my point at all. I have ZERO issue with the standards themselves. They can make them harder or easier (at this point, they need to make more stringent standards as there should be no ridiculous cutoff). My point is that if a race has a qualifying time, then the RD needs to honor those that meet the standard. Period.

        Now of course I know this is a free country and they can do whatever they want, but IMHO, i find it incredibly distasteful to have a standard and then not stand by it.

  3. Had to laugh at the LA guy, could be me, or my “twin”… except 1) I’ve never done LA, 2) I wouldn’t be caught dead in a backward (or any) baseball cap in a race, and 3) I don’t cheat. If you see yellow tank, black shorts, red bandanna, glasses, grey beard, it may be me… but not THAT guy! Wonder how he ended up; those were MY kind of conditions.

  4. I’ve run LA several times. The section between the start at Dodger Stadium and the 5k point is mostly downhill, and the section between 5k and 10k contains a long uphill grind. Those splits are…curious.

  5. In addition, 15k to 20k is relatively flat, and 20k to 30k contains two steep drops with a very mild uphill near the end. No sensr at all.

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