Follow up on Honolulu Marathon and Geri Berger

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Honolulu Marathon

On Tuesday, I was critical of The Honolulu Marathon, and their refusal to publish the full results. They made bib number, and name required fields to pull up an individual’s splits. I made the decision to publish the full results myself.

It seems that this stance made an impact, as the full results are now available at Honolulumarathon.org.

While it shouldn’t have been necessary for me to force their hand, I am grateful that The Honolulu Marathon has unlocked the full results.

I understand that cheating happens at all races, and only wanted the results to be publicly available so that honest competitors can see the results of their competition.

Geri Berger

On Monday, I wrote about Geri Berger, and her Honolulu Marathon result.

Fitness Pro Sets Dangerous Example While Claiming Questionable Finish at Honolulu Marathon

Geri is an IFBB Professional, and had claimed to run a personal record at The Honolulu Marathon despite becoming ill beginning at mile 8. Her paces and missed timing splits raised suspicions.

Shortly after I published my article regarding Geri Berger, I received the following email:

Subject: Pls Remove Post

Good morning, Please remove the post. It is inaccurate. I am not sure why my check points did not record. I have witness 40k who I saw as I passed the check point at 3:45pm. She can confirm I passed it.

I was severely sick and stopped along the way to throw up. I had hydration packs in me and electrolytes. Post comp O was severely sick and should have gone straight to the ER as I was severely dehydrated. I was sick for 2 days.

With much Aloha, 

Geri Berger, IFBB Pro

 

I responded that I was not removing the post, and that I was comfortable with my assessment. The key point from the post was not the missed 40k mat (I have not heard from the witness) but her paces (and additional missed timing mats) between 10 and 21k, and from 21k to 30k.

Aloha,

During my contest prep, the last 8 weeks I was running 8-10 miles a day, 6 days a week. One session was steady state and the other involved intense sprints. My coach can attest to this I run all year. I understand and should have posted what happened to me after.

With much Aloha, 

Geri Berger, IFBB Pro

Geri did not address how she increased her pace and passed over 2000 runners during the stretch where she first became ill or how she increased her pace from nearly 12 minutes per mile before she got ill to 6:25 minutes per mile from km 21 to 30.

It does appear from race photos, that Geri did have on her Apple watch. All she would need to do, if she ran the full course, is make her GPS data available. Nothing in her history shows that she can run a 6:25 minute mile in the second half of a marathon, let alone maintain that pace for over 5 miles. Of course, she is under no obligation to provide any information. But if she honestly ran the race, I would think it would be to her benefit to show the data.

Also, she wrote of being very sick and dehydrated for over two days. She said that she should have posted what happened to her after. Two days later she still did not post about what happened to her after. She still has not warned her followers about how dangerous it is to continue to run while dehydrated. Instead she has been deleting any negative comments from her pages.

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34 COMMENTS

  1. The data and conclusions seem pretty solid, but EVEN IF Geri somehow managed to overcome all this and still run those times, the post should STILL be up as an example of not running when fully dehydrated.

  2. I do “intense sprints” in some of my training too, but alas, I still can run 6-7 minute miles in the middle of a marathon…even when I’m not dehydrated and vomiting. Guess that’s why I haven’t been able to quit my day job.

  3. No need to post this but here is a link to her marathon photos:
    https://g.allsports.jp/en/events/682965/pages/564485/zekken/1230/photos

    Here is a link to mine:
    https://g.allsports.jp/en/events/682965/pages/564485/zekken/9607/photos

    I noticed there are only photos of her running down Diamond Head Road (41K point) and the stretch to the finish line. What about the rest of the race? My photos encompass most of the race (from when it was dark to the finish).

  4. Interesting that her Instagram is now private…seems odd for someone who seems to long for the social media connection in her posts (hence all the @s and #s). Maybe she just saw an Edward Snowden documentary, got nervous, and decided to go private and all of that just happened to coincide with these articles? 🙂

    It’s also odd that she labels herself an “Olympian” when she has never been in the Olympic Games. She has competed in Mr. Olympia, but the “Olympian” term is not one that is normally used for a competitor in Mr. Olympia contests. Seems like she’s playing a little fast-and-loose with that term to garner legitimacy.

    The inability for these people to own up to their mistakes (or blatant cheating) is incredible. It was either Mark or Jonathan on your podcast that noted it’s roughly 5% who get caught and end up owning up to it. Had she been honest from the get-go and admitted that she had a rough day (we all have them) and made a bad decision (we’ve all made them) then we’d all move on with it and never give it a second thought. But the continued denial and inability to directly answer questions all whilst maintaining some sort of self-deceiving innocence is what makes these stories so sensational (in a bad way). As Richard Bach said, “The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves.”

    Unless someone immediately addresses any issue presented, then their answers and explanations fall on deaf ears. Diversions to questions and mentioning things that don’t even matter (not sure why her training mattered or her hydration/nutrition mattered if she didn’t have the GPS or other evidence to back up her performance) are a huge red flag.

    As a side note: one of my personal goals is to run a marathon so fast that I get an email from Derek asking for my GPS data! 🙂

    • Not to beat a dead horse – as I think this chick is a real piece of work and a scumbag – but people who compete in Mr Olympia comps call themselves Olympians. It’s common.

      That said, she’s obviously a liar and full of crap. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t cheat in other ways in her bodybuilding comps.

    • I love the last line and totally agree.

      I’ve been doing triathlon for 10 years and the last two I started adding a “passenger” – towing a boy (Team Gabe) with MS. I was secretly hoping Derek would flag me for my faster times when he saw my slower ones with Gabe.

      Have a great day!

      • @Camerson S – wow, you ROCK! Rooting for you and Team Gabe! Thank you for being a great person & triathlete. People like you, who make marathons and triathlons accessible to those who cannot run, are awesome and such a great part of the endurance racing community 🙂

    • I believe she meant to say she passed the 40k mark at 3 hours and 45 minutes since the marathon commenced, or 8:45 am local time. Another point here: She’s 3:45 into the race at 40k. That means it took her 22 minutes to run downhill and onto the flats to the finish, a total 1.24 miles or about 3 mph, slow walking speed. Guess she burned herself out doing these 6:25s or whatever past the halfway point or the 8:24s while throwing up….:)

    • That part doesn’t prove she cheated. I have friends who easily run 6:30 miles with implants. They get the implants because they’re fit and fast, so they have low body fat.

      • I wonder if her sponsors are aware that they’re supporting someone who is being questioned for cheating. What a shame to have so much pride that you can’t admit you’re “human” sometimes.

  5. The more I read Derek’s articles, it seems the #1 excuse for “miraculous” pacing has to do with being sick/going to the bathrooms at break-neck speed.

    Thank you again, Derek! (another donation sent)

  6. trouble is its difficult to put these things in perspective for the average reader.
    So; i am a sub 4 hr marathoner. My best ever ever ever mile time is 6:30.
    On its own, best conditions, really going for it, and it very nearly killed me.
    Best time vs marathon pace is a dream relationship. I dream of achieving the time again as a deliberate one off. as for a marathon pace, ever at that mile time? derek always understates how absolutely mental that is.

    • Agreed, my 5K PB is 19:28, I don’t think I have a single 5K split for any marathon I have done that is less than 3 minutes slower than this and my training has always included 20 mile runs unlike our friend here with her totally inadequate “During my contest prep, the last 8 weeks I was running 8-10 miles a day, 6 days a week”
      A couple of things to ask a “fitness pro”:
      What about the taper?
      and
      Why were you training for a 10 mile race?

    • My marathon time is a little slower than yours and my mile time is faster, (6:10 ish when I ran my fastes marathons (just under 4:10). The fastest split I have ever run was around 8:10 on a slight downhill. I ran it on mile 14 at Big Sur (after a conservative first half and 3 downhill miles). I was feeling good and decided to pick it up and overshot. I paid dearly for that mile about 5 miles later when the wheels came off. I did NOT set a PR and haven’t made that mistake since. I suffered for taking 50 seconds a mile off. And she took 6 minutes off a mile while throwing up. Who is she kidding (besides herself). Physiology is a science and some things just don’t happen

  7. I highly doubt she can run a solo 6:25 mile let alone a 6:25 min/mi pace for 5 miles towards the end of a marathon after she was puking and dehydrated.

  8. I guess I can understand the temptation to cheat if it means *winning* something – a trophy, money whatever. I don’t really understand why someone would pay money to enter an event, then cheat themselves out of the full experience by cheating only to get an arbitrary ‘fast time’.

    But what I really don’t understand is, why is it that the majority of these cheaters aren’t satisfied with cheating to get a ‘fast time’, why does this fast time always need to have been accomplished after being sick / throwing up / dehydrating / being barely able to walk due to knee/ankle/hip pain / sprained ankles / horrible stomach issues etc?

    What is it about their psychological make-up that requires this fantasy of over-coming these ‘super-human odds’ that only makes it more obvious they cheated?

    • There are people who have a business interest in producing fast times and overcoming hardships (dehydration, throwing up). These are the on-line trainers and fitness pros who will materially gain either through new paying clients or corporate sponsorship. Geri is one such example. Her web page offers personal training for $299 a month. http://www.geribergerlifestyle.com/online.html So if you are charging those sort of bucks a DNF will not look good on your resume.

        • It’s less about the time being an elite time or a BQ and more about it being a “PR” for her after fighting through having a rough day. For a huge majority of people a 4:07 is a super accomplishment.

  9. I’ve run the Honolulu the last 4 years and all of the notable local races. Given the amount of overlap between other local races and the Honolulu marathon course, they are great at predicting your results for other races. For instance, I was very well trained for both the Hapalua and the full marathon. On the former I was just under 1:40 which projects to a 3:30 full and on the full I did 3:32. That is with more youth than this lady and extremely detailed and year round training. Look at her results from Hapalua a few months ago and historically (can see on athlinks.com). It projects to a 4:46 time, which is likely aggressive given the heat and humidity in the Honolulu full make your back half splits almost always slower than projected. Her 5:26 last year on the full while running a half that projects to 4:30 attests to that. So history alone would say her alleged 4:07 is absurd. She would’ve needed an amazing training program to magically shave 40 minutes off of the most aggressive marathon projection, which is just unlikely.

    On top of history though you stack on missed mats at the furthest turnaround point, absurd splits indicating she ran nearly 6 miles at a 6:30/mile pace (something that as a 3:30 marathoner I’d never be capable of doing even on a bet and any good runner knows you need even splits to perform at top level, let alone 80 minutes faster than your PR), claims of being sick and no evidence to counter facts. Basically to conclude she didn’t cheat takes blind faith and ignoring all the facts. Makes me sick that she stands to profit from her lie being upheld. I hope all her sponsors drop her and people familiar with her local sponsors such as TrueVision Center, Island Club & Spa and others advocate for her to be dropped. (Sponsors seen here: http://www.geribergerlifestyle.com/sponsors.html)

    Great work is being done here. As a runner in Hawaii it is frustrating that they protect cheats so I’m very appreciative that people like her are able to get exposed in spite of that.

  10. Such a missed opportunity for her to have just DNF’d. She could’ve set an example that you don’t always succeed. Build on the point of listening to your body in terms of hydration, which is no joke in extreme events. Then promote her methods and products for recovery. Likely would have added a few sympathetic followers, and some respect too.

  11. I’m not trying to add to the drama bus, but as someone who has trained for bodybuilding competitions I find it extremely hard to believe that she was running anywhere between 8-10 miles a day 6 days a week for the last 8 weeks of a competition prep…you could die. The whole point of the last few weeks is to literally dehydrate and especially starve yourself and bulk for muscle definition. You are constantly tired and hungry and unless I am misunderstanding her email, running that length would not only eat her muscle but she physically could not endure it due to lack of water and nutrition.
    Her being dehydrated while doesn’t surprise me cause that’s what bodybuilders do… however runners know the importance of hydration. Ugh.🙄

  12. The selfie with the huge Honolulu marathon banner with the full course map on it is comedy gold when she didn’t even complete several parts of the course!!

  13. I would be shocked if the Honolulu Marathon disqualified her. Hawaiians are very proud and protective of their local “celebrities.”

  14. Wow….6mins 25seconds for a mile, at that stage of a marathon, in the light of her other splits and being so ill!!

    I once reached that speed….. I fell from the top of a multi storey carpark!

    You have to laugh: she has cheated (?) made a mistake (?) but now she has – by choice – decided to wear the coveted ‘ I am a liar’ hat for all her clients, friends, family and acquaintances to see.

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