After reviewing The 2019 Disney Marathon results, as always, there were plenty of course cutters. I did not find any of these cutters with Boston Qualifying times. But, there were plenty of repeat offenders and some blatant examples of cheating to earn the coveted Disney medals.
The Family That Cheats Together
Andrew and Cynthia had nearly identical splits. They both missed the 20 mile timing mat. This is the area that is most known for course cutting at Disney. It is an out and back section. They had a 1 hour negative split.
There is one more section of the course that seems to be an even more popular place to cut the course. That is between miles 10 and 13. There were conservatively 300 or more runners that cut this section of the course.
Andrew and Cynthia completed the first 10 miles at about an 18 minute per mile pace. Their pace for from 10-13.1 miles was about 10:15 minute per mile.
Additionally, the runner that was registered as Andrew is 63 years old. It would appear that Andrew’s son, Andrew Jr. took his place.
In 2018, the senior Andrew seemed to have run the race legitimately. The others all were registered but have no official times. It is unknown if they were disqualified, or just did not run the race.
In 2017, these two (Andrew listed as 21 years old) had a similar pattern. Missing the 20 mile checkpoint with a large negative split. There was a third member of the family, that ran separately, but also had a huge negative split accompanied by the missed 20 mile mat.
Andrew and Cynthia had the same pattern in 2016. The suspicious results for Cynthia go all the way back to 2013.
James is one of a handful that apparently did not bother to show up for the start. Why show up at 3:30 am for transportation is hard when you can sleep a few more hours and take the monorail? He missed the start for both the Half and Full Marathons.
I received an email regarding Donna. Another runner that may have utilized the monorail.
I ran Disney Marathon yesterday. My family was waiting to cheer me on at approximately mile 24.5, just before you enter Epcot to run the last bit toward the finish line. This point is after all timing mats for the entire race. They saw a woman, dressed in running kit, with bib on. She did not come from along the course but ran from the sideline as if she had run from the hotel which was over a bridge away from the race course. She ran onto the course and went to a med tent, which is located at a 90 degree turn/choke point on the course. This makes all runners highly visible. She clearly did not come from the race course. She showed no signs of sweating or distress, unlike all the other runners. She applied biofreeze, then trotted on as if she had been running all along.
Christina posted in a Disney group that she was going to run all four races on Disney Marathon Weekend even though she was only trained for a 5k.
The 5k is not timed. It looks like she legitimately completed the 10k and the half marathons. As would be expected, she slowed with each race. She finished the half in approximately 3 hours.
For the full she finished the first half in just under 3 hours. She was slowing significantly after 10 miles in the full. She was running at 17-1/2 minute per mile pace by the halfway point of the marathon. She missed the 20 mile split and her finish time of over 6 hours represents a 40 minute negative split.
She somehow managed to claim a Dopey Medal for completing all 4 races despite not being registered for The Dopey Challenge. She registered for the half and full as part of The Goofy Challenge. She also received her Goofy medal.
There were other repeat cheaters..more than I can go through. These were a few examples of the most egregious.
Thanks to Brian Davis for the historical research and timing data and thanks to The N#TrD Facebook group for providing the photos used in the article.
Please consider a small contribution to support Marathon Investigation. Your contributions keep the site up and running. If you represent a race, feel free to reach out for partnership opportunities.
Don’t want to use PayPal? Click below to contribute without going through PayPal.
Lastly, be sure to check out The Marathon Investigation Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate, and review the podcast.
And there it is. The classic “I-overcame-incredible-odds-to finish” story.
I’m sitting in my office looking at the medals that I’ve accumulated over the years (hanging in the office at the wife’s request!). As I look at each medal I am brought back to each race: fun moments, running with friends, harsh weather (i.e., Boston 2018), rough moments (Ironman 70.3 Steelhead), and triumphant runs.
I can’t fathom how someone can take a medal for a race in which they cut the course or for which they didn’t register. I would be reminded of that awful fact every time I saw the medal.
So the reward would constantly remind me of my failure or deception…the exact opposite of what a medal is supposed to do!
Art, I agree 100%. Ironman founder John Collins put it like this – “You can quit if you want, and no one will care. But you will know the rest of your life”. In this case quit = cheat.
Yes. You said it exactly. Who would want a visible reminder of lies and failure?
I think for the cheaters, it’s not the journey, but it’s the destination; the end result is what they are there for. Take Art above, he is there for the journey, the medal is just a momento of the event for him. If he cheated, the medal would remind him of it. But for cheaters, their journey is quickly forgotten. They are there for the medal, which is the only thing they think about. Art will tell stories about trying to hit splits, how he pushed through, etc. Cheaters will just tell us how pretty their medals are. They just move on from the cheat aspect.
I personally believe that people like Christina simply suffer from low self esteem and need the “validation” from fake internet points (likes, follows, shares).
I’ve met some people in a rehab facility (I was volunteering) that shared stories similar to this. They needed the validation of internet followers to fill a void in their life. When the internet followers stopped satisfying that need they turned to something else.
Low self esteem is hard to own up to and hard to fix. It can be hard to find peace with yourself if you haven’t been raised in a positive environment.
So I don’t blame Christina, I just hope she realizes she has a problem and is able to address it before she goes too far.
Christina is apparently “Honoring SGT Corey Jackson” an Army NCO killed by a drunk driver. Cheating on a race does this man no honor, esp. if one believes he is somewhere in the afterlife…watching.
I volunteered for the full at mile 15.1, about 1/2 mile past the gravediggers where this picture was taken and saw James come by!! He stuck out like a sore thumb because at the time he came by, there were mostly A/B corral runners coming by. Though I know marathon runners come in all shapes and sizes, he didn’t quite fit in with the fast runners. He was walking leisurely, not a bit sweaty or looking like he’d been running, and was wearing an H bib! My guess was he joined in at the AK parking lot. I didn’t think quick enough to grab his bib number, but looks like Derek was on it!!
The Disney 5K fun run is technically timed but results are only displayed as proof for the Dopey challenge participants, see link below:
As always, thank you Derek!
In 2017 Disney cancelled the half due to a storm that come up at night. I was devistated. I had trained hard for my first Dopey. The next morning I got up a long with a bunch of other runners & we ran our 13.1 miles on our own. We still put in our outfits & took pictures with each other just like on course! That was the most fun I ever had. Now I could except my half marathon medal & I could except my Goofy & Dopey medals & I could wear my shirts with pride. I did it!! During the full I watched a number of people cut the course. I just can not except anything I did not earn!! Karma will strike those cheaters later.
I was going to do a one & done but I wanted that time stamp. Do I trained again & did 2018 Dopey! I did it!
I busted my as to finish the Dopey Challenge, almost tripping over the timing mats because well it’s me and I’m clumsy. I can’t imagine not finishing fairly. I have been in the military for 24 years and in that I have integrity, to myself and the rules.
I DNF’d the marathon at Disney this year. I remain heartbroken over it. I trained hard, but I am a back-of-the-pack runner. I knew going in it was going to take everything I had, and on race day that still was not enough, and I was swept at about the halfway point.
Disney generously considers their medals “participant medals,” and I received a marathon medal even though I didn’t earn the finish line. I can’t display it with the medals for races I’ve finished, because I didn’t complete my race.
So yeah … these people piss me off.
I can give you a couple more names to add to this list. One of my groups did some digging in on a member who was claiming her chip died at one point… and another runner using someone else’s bib to complete the full (from the same family). We poked and hinted that we knew what had happened, we’ve all been blocked by them now.
Wow I find this really sad. I almost feel bad for someone who has to cheat..but I don’t because they don’t HAVE to..they CHOOSE to. Pathetic really.
I don’t want a medal I didn’t earn! If it was easy everyone would do it.
Can confirm Donna, She over slept her alarm and was at the family reunion area at 7am demanding RunDinsey Race Staff let her on the course. They would not. She was pacing around the family reunion area until park open and went in.
Evidently she walked through the park to the backside of Epcot entrance and joined the race.
I wonder if Donna is the runner who showed up at the front desk at Pop at 5:40 asking where the bus to the race was! My daughter saw her while waiting for a ride to work. When the front desk CM told her there weren’t any more, she was upset and told them she was running a race today! When they told her it had already started, she said something my daughter didn’t hear, and ran off!
Donna has so much K-tape on it’s a wonder she can move.
And there it is. The classic “I-overcame-incredible-odds-to finish” story.
My god look at all that crap Donna is wearing.
My thoughts exactly. So by oversleeping, not only did she waste a lot of money in registration fees, but think of how much she spent on KT Tape!
We are another 2 that were signed up for Dopey the year that the half got cancelled. Like many others we got up that day and ran the half so we would earn the right to wear our Dopey and Goofy medals.
I cannot comprehend why anyone would say they had completed something they hadn’t completed. I truly believe it must either be for artificial social media likes or because they are not quite right. Or both…
I feel the Disney events are just glorified fun runs and should not be taken seriously. It does not bother me too much that people cheat at these events, or that Disney turns a blind eye, or that Disney terms the medals, participant medals rather than finisher medals. However, there are a few things that should change for me to be fully comfortable with the events.
1) Boston should refuse to accept times from a Disney event.
2) Disney should not have any prizes or awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers, overall and age group.
3) The results should just give the participants time, not their place.
The individuals highlighted in this article do not strike me as malicious cheaters, rather just joggers who got caught up in the excitement of a Disney Fun Run.
I think Disney does it, in part, because of how ridiculously expensive their races are. Sure it’s difficult to stage the parks for this but I don’t think the costs are justified. But I agree with your suggested changes.
I had Disney on my list of marathons to do but all the horror stories – and cost – have steered me clear.
re: Radisson… There’s no reason to do away with the awards, or change the way results are listed. Given the quality of the overall event, which in spite of so many complaints is quite high, that wouldn’t make any sense.
Regarding Boston, they have yet to remove any race with a certified USATF course, and it would be completely bizarre to do that to WDW now. At how many races this year with over 10,000 finishers will Derek find zero bogus BQs? That’s incredible! That may be a story in and of itself.
Hello Urban – FWIW, there are only 7 US marathons with >10,000 finishers – NYC, Chicago, Boston, Marine Corps, Disney, Honolulu and LA. So small sample size for sure, but I’d be surprised if after final results are published Boston has any bogus BQs. So much scrutiny with their results. The others, no idea but you’d suspect a few bogus BQ times slip through.
As an RD and someone who verifies results for our races I’m with Raddison in that I wish the BAA would tighten their rules for which races are qualifiers. I have no issue with smaller, less formal races being “BQ eligible”. And of course 99% of all marathons make a good effort to publish accurate results. Unfortunately we’ve seen year after year that there are a few marathons in which publishing accurate results just isn’t a priority. A race wants to be like that, that’s really not a big deal with me. But with how much it means to runners to not just qualify for Boston but to make whatever the time cutoff each year happens to be in order to get a bib, I think the BAA could easily justify a “results standard” that raises the bar of proof and takes races that don’t care to monitor their courses properly off an approved list.
Yes, it would be a major change in practice by the BAA. I won’t be surprised if we see it happen in the next 5 years if their demand continues to be as high as it is.
I feel so angry about the cheaters after my wife experience.
My wife was pulled from the marathon after reaching 25 miles due to heat stroke. She had battled through the half marathon with a stomach bug not realising how serious the consequences would turn out to be. She was rushed to the med tent and then taken to the local hospital over night for observation.
Both of us were so disappointed at not being able to complete the Dopey Challenge after getting so close,
The organisers were very kind and gave my wife a marathon medal as a momento of the event but she feels she doesn’t deserve it due to not finishing.
I have the same mind set, we had probably ran further than the 48 miles throughout the whole weekend but we both hadn’t finished the challenge.
To all the cheaters who cut the course you should be ashamed.
I have no idea how someone could have gotten a Dopey medal without registering for it. There are separate bibs, for one, and they check your results on a computer for your 4 finishes before giving you the medal. It had to be given to them by someone.
On the other hand, she paid more, so after pleading her case I wouldn’t be surprised if they just gave her one. Not a big deal.
I only became aware of Disney Races when I started reading Marathon Investigation.
I now avidly follow (on YouTube) several Disney theme park/ running fans.
They take it very seriously, as seriously as it should be taken!
They train, they pay their (vast sums of) dollars and they get huge joy and pride at their magnificent achievement.
Just getting up at 2.30 am for 3 or 4 days in a row deserves a medal in itself!
These are of course no ‘ordinary’ running events. Part of the experience is designing a costume, running down Main street, queuing for 15 mins to get a photo with your favourite character, riding Expedition Everest during the Marathon etc.
I started by being bemused by the whole thing – but now I am quite envious about this whole subculture. I have never had such a ‘thing’ to hold onto!
Maybe. I consider myself a relatively serious (and cynical) middle-aged runner (80+ marathons/Short ultras, 50+ other distances in 9 years of running) but I tip my hat to those who spend so much time, effort and cash to participate.
The cheaters should be exposed and banned from Disney. They erode the fun and achievement from the others – many of whom do believe that ‘wishing on a Star’ is a thing.
If I had the money I would (I’m in UK) enter the Dopey challenge and wear the tee shirts with pride.
These are much more than fun runs.
I have no problem with people getting a medal if they attempt to do the race(s) but have major issues and can’t finish (like an illness or injury). But being lazy and expecting to get the medal and then bragging about it is not OK. I know it’s a lot of money and that the 5k, 10k, half and full medals are more participation medals, but cheating to get them diminishes all the hard work the majority of the participants put in to do the races. The Goofy and Dopey medals are EARNED and should not be given (and it’s my understanding they are not) unless you finish the required races with all the splits confirmed. If you get up late or just don’t feel like starting early, then don’t do the race. Disney should not put up with these people and show that they are serious about the races and the people who pay (a lot) of $$ to participate. I had to save up to pay the Dopey fees, not to mention the travel and time off from work. I was really proud of myself for doing my first Dopey and to read about cheaters getting the same thing really ticks me off. 🙁
Comments are closed.