The story of over 250 Chinese Half Marathoner’s being disqualified has made the rounds internationally.
The sad reality is that having this many runners cutting a course in a large race is not at all surprising. It is normal.
While I typically focus on those cheaters that steal age group awards or Boston qualifying slots, there are a far greater number that cheat near the back of the packs.
We recently recorded a podcast Marc Roy of Sportstats (releasing soon). He shared that they often remove over 200 participants from race results.
I wrote about the 2015 Honolulu Marathon. Over 400 runners missed 3 or more timing mats. The vast majority of those runners very likely cut the course. Truth be told, the amount of course cutters at that race was likely greater than 400. I didn’t even report on the number of runners that missed 2 mats.
I reviewed the 2017 Disney World Marathon results and estimated that over 200 runners cut the course.
At this year’s Marine Corps Marathon over 100 runners were disqualified, and there were many more likely course cutters still in the results at last check.
Let’s not forget about The Mexico City Marathon. Over 5000 runners were disqualified for course cutting in both 2017 and 2018.
The case in China got attention because the runners were caught on camera. It makes a better story with the visual evidence. This happens on a comparable scale at nearly every race where the course provides the opportunity to cut across a street to shave a few miles. Maybe it’s 100 runners, maybe it’s 300.
We should stop acting shocked. Until cheating runners have real consequences, there is no deterrent to this behavior. Some races will ban runners that sell their bibs or that use bib mules in their races. Races are more hesitant to ban a couple hundred course cutters every year.
Again, I am hearing those that say that these mid or back of the pack cheaters are only cheating themselves. I don’t agree with that sentiment. Even those that aren’t qualifying for Boston or claiming fake age group awards are still cheating. Everyone that cuts a course and crosses the finish line to claim a finisher’s medal is cheating every honest participant. They are cheating everyone that put in the time to prepare and that honestly ran, or walked every inch of the course.
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