Marine Corps Marathon Analysis Uncovers Serial Course Cutter

Robert was disqualified from the 2016 and 2017 MCM, but the suspicious results go back much further.


I am mostly complete with my analysis of The Marine Corps Marathon Results. I already wrote about Brandy’s course cutting. She has since been disqualified. During the deeper analysis more instances of apparent course cutting has been detected.

In re-running the still preliminary results, just over 100 runners have been disqualified. A handful of these runners were Boston qualifiers. There are still more runners that I have identified as having suspicious splits that have yet to have been removed.

I will take a look at some Boston Qualifiers.

The first to stand out was Robert Debski.

2018 Marine Corps Marathon – 3:53:43 – 7th In Age Group


Robert has multiple missed splits. He is missing the 1/2 split, 20k, 25k and 30k.

Further analysis shows that his pacing is highly unlikely.

Robert’s covered the distance from 10k to 15k in a time of 16:20. That is a 5:16 minute per mile pace. The map above shows that this is along an out and back stretch of the course. (Between miles 6.2 and 9.3). He did not miss any published mats on this section, but the clear conclusion is that he turned around early. In comparison his first 5k was run in 36:30, a roughly 12 minute per mile pace.

The pace between his other missed splits also raises suspicion: Between 15k and 35k, he averaged a 7:33 minute per mile pace.

Whenever I discover cheating, I look at past results. Robert has run the Marine Corps Marathon before.

2017 – 3:56:02 – Disqualified
2016 – 3:35:20 – Disqualified
2015 – 4:37:26 – Missed 20k and half splits
2014 – 4:22:57 – Missed 20k, half, 25k and 30k splits
2013 – 5:06:52 – No Missed Splits
2011 – 3:51:35 – Missed 20k, half and 30k splits
2010 – 4:11:00 – Missed 20k, half and 30k splits
2009 – 5:13:33 – Missed 20k and half splits
2008 – 4:48:26 – Missed 20k and half splits
2009 – 4:58:20 – No missed splits

To summarize, Robert has run The Marine Corps Marathon 11 times in the past 12 years. He has suspicious results in 9 of those years, being disqualified in 2016 and 2017.

I also want to reiterate that the 2018 results are unofficial. I will report Robert to MCM, and fully expect that he will be disqualified. I also question why he is allowed to continue running the race after consecutive disqualifications with times that would qualify him for Boston.


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  1. I know the MCM course well having run it a few times. Absolutely baffling why (and it’s been asked many times) RD’s don’t have more timing mats on the end of these “out and back” sections.

    Over the years, there have been reported incidents at this race of people cutting Rock Creek Parkway (out and back between 10k and 15k)…The section between 25k and 35k (there is a timing mat at 30k, but if this is missed and pace drops significantly at 35k checkpoint, it’s a instant red flag given the course design)…and in Crystal City near the turnaround (which is between 35k and 40k marks).

    I, for one, would love to get away from “cheap tech shirts” and have more course integrity, ie more timing mats or pay someone like Derek to investigate the results.

    • I was thinking the same thing! I ran this MCM and as I reached the turnaround in Rock Creek, I was baffled that there was no timing mat there. (I’ve become more attuned to this thing after becoming a reader of Derek’s blog.) The only mats they had were at the milestones you’d expect (half & every 5K). Some of those milestones serve as useful checks against course-cutting (the half marathon & 30K marks fall naturally at the end of turnarounds). How hard would it be to add a couple mats in Rock Creek and Crystal City?

      • Just to play devil’s advocate, though, what would more timing mats do to discourage course-cutting? A timing mat every 5k is pretty comprehensive, and those who are going to cut the course are never going to notice the presence or absence of the timing mat. This guy already missed three landmarks. How much more obvious does it need to be that he cheated?

  2. Still don’t understand why people spend good money on a race and then don’t run the full race… Can’t possibly feel proud of the achievement

  3. “I also question why he is allowed to continue running the race after consecutive disqualifications with times that would qualify him for Boston.”


  4. Thank you for stopping potential fraudulent 2020 Boston entries. A handful of DQers is giving life and dreams to those other “handful” of earners who have worked hard and legitimately earned a spot in Hopkington.

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