Philadelphia Marathon’s Inaction Shows Disrespect for Legitimate Runners

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Runners with Boston qualifying times remain in the Philadelphia Marathon results despite missing mats, and sub 30 minute half marathon splits.

The Philadelphia Marathon was over two months ago. I wrote an article after a preliminary review. I decided to wait on the follow up to see what (if anything) the race did to clean up the results. Basically they have done nothing.

In my opinion a race that acts with such blatant disregard for the accuracy of their results should not be eligible to be a Boston Qualifying Race.

Below are some examples of runners that remain in the results and are qualified to enter the 2020 Boston Marathon. Most of the runners with suspicious results cut on the back half of the course along the out and back section. Since there is no published timing mat at the turnaround, some runners cut without missing any splits.

Boston Qualifiers and an Age Group Winner

There are a number of obvious course cutters that have qualifying times for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

1st Place Age Group Male 75-79

There is absolutely zero reason why this runner should remain in  the results. He is the first place finisher in the Male 75-79 age group. His finish photos photo show him crossing the finish lines, arms raised in victory. He missed the half and 30k splits. He covered the distance from 10k to the finish in a 4:45 pace.

Boston Qualifier – Female Age 26

She ran the second half of the marathon in 15 minutes. Looking at the course map, it is clear that the runners that missed the 30k split turned around at some point after mile 14 and headed to the finish.

Boston Qualifier – Female Age 23

She missed the 30k mat. She went from a 10:47 pace between the 10k and the half to a 6:37 pace from the half to the finish.

Boston Qualifier – Female Age 42

She is a typical 6 hour marathoner. She ran a 22 minute half marathon.

What Can Be Done?

These are the most obvious cases. There are many more questionable results. I have included these in this article as the most obvious cases of course cutting. There is no justification for these runners to not have been removed from the results. There is zero chance any of them ran a marathon on that day.

The excuse I heard in the past was that the race did not want to risk a lawsuit stemming from a disqualification. That is absurd. These runners (and many others) did not run the race. They should be removed from the results. No one is going to sue a race for being rightfully disqualified.

The Boston Athletic Association has the power to force Philadelphia’s hand. They can demand accountability. By not taking the time to remove the most obvious of examples from their results, The Philadelphia Marathon is showing that they don’t care about the integrity of their race or the accuracy of their results. Boston should not allow the race (and others that act with similar disregard for the integrity of their results) to continue to serve as a Boston Qualifier beginning with the 2019 Philadelphia Marathon.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I agree. I ran Philly this year and was surprised to see that anyone could fairly easily cut the marathon course after the 30k mat (stop, tie your shoe, and then turn right rather than left with no course Marshall presence) and avoid the run to the Manayank turnaround, shaving about 2 miles off the distance. I won’t run this race again unless they install a timing mat at the Manayank turnaround.

  2. Are any other large marathons organized by the hosting city? Philly is organized and produced by the City of Philadelphia.

    I wonder if that has anything to do with their apparent indifference to this issue, whereas a running club (like the NYRR or SRA) or proper race organization (Chicago Marathon committee) would be more responsive.

  3. All but the 70 year had already been removed. It’s easy to print what we all know to be true, without consequences or legal action. Events don’t have that luxury. They must look, check more closely and communicate, before people are removed. Events have been sued for acting too quickly in their actions.

  4. The BAA could implement standards for races. All “A” races would be fully sanctioned and presumably all finishers that BQ would be in the first batch of entrants. “B” level races next. No need for any other levels, as those races would fail the standards. The BAA needs to protect its event like any other premium entry race, and raise the bar for BQ race status.

    • I certainly feel the BAA should do something like this. Part of the requirement for the A standard should be the RD runs the results through a checking program such as the one Derek uses. The results that pass the filter get forwarded to the BAA and the runner is automatically qualified. No need for the runner to send in their results or anything. Furthermore, if you decide to enter Boston you will get a bib, no need to worry about the cut off time, that would only apply to B standard entrants.

      While it could be argued that this might increase the costs of an A standard race but the attraction for genuine Boston aspirants would more than off set this. It could even be argued that this could benefit the cities holding A standard marathons as the potential for out of town runners to come to their race rather than the local race will increase. The extra tourist dollars will certainly be appreciated.

      • Hi Raddison – With 15+ years experience checking results, I’d say that your idea of using a checking program is unnecessary for most small to medium size marathons. Even for larger marathons, looking at results and using basic common sense, for any RD with either experience or a basic understanding of this sport you shouldn’t need a program to figure out 99.5% of the cheatahs. The marathon I work for, as an example, I start looking over results the night of the race. (I’d start sooner but I have 2 parks worth of equipment to break down and load into trailers with my crew, plus those celebratory post-race beers aren’t going to drink themselves.) At that point prelim results have been posted, and labelled as such, and sites such as marathon guide have already scrubbed the data and posted results. In 15 minutes I’ll find 4-5 clear course cuts out of 4000+/- finishers, almost always inadvertent, and submit the changes to our timing contractor who makes the results changes first thing next morning. Then over the next 2 days I’ll spend another 4-8 hours digging deeper to resolve a few other potential course cut issues. Then over the next 2 weeks I’ll research emails that come in from finishers whose chips didn’t read.

        This is basic stuff that any RD should make sure is done for their race. You don’t need an outside service, although what Derek provides is well worth it for those who don’t want to do the work themselves.

        The list of marathons that are loose with their results checking is well known by this point. To me, those are the races the BAA should demand higher scrutiny from. The other 99+% of all marathons, the system BAA uses now works fine.

  5. It is horrible that people cheat in the Philadelphia marathon. However, attempting to remove Philadelphia as a Boston qualifier would unfairly penalize all those who have signed up for it in anticipation of qualifying for Boston. Penalize the cheaters, but not the vast majority of runners who are fair minded, honorable people.

  6. This stuff really gets my goat. I had a half marathon victory snatched from me because someone cut the course. I ran in first from step 1 to the end, but somehow got waxed by over 3 minutes by some dude. Crazy thing is, when I confronted him he refused to admit it. I asked him over and over again how it was possible that he passed me and he said I must have been asleep. He even removed his gps watch to avoid someone questioning his time. I eventually got his name removed from the results and the race made things right, but the thrill of victory was taken from me.

  7. If the organizers are afraid of lawsuit, then legitimate runner should fire a lawsuit against Philadelphia Marathon if they don’t take any action, after all the victim of the cheating is tens thousands of honest and hard training runners.

  8. This is so annoying. It makes me furious that some of these people run Boston, taking away spots from people who actually earned a spot there. And then I’m sure they tell people they ran a marathon in this crazy time….but they didn’t. They cheated.

  9. As of now (Fri 2/1/19 11:40am east coast), looking at the results posted at xacte, the M75-79 runner and the 42 year old female are no longer listed as finishers. The 26 and 23 year old females are still listed as finishers.

    Very disappointing that it’s taking Philly this long to make such obvious corrections. Jim Marino, the Philly RD, has a very good reputation in the industry. He’s been RD for the Broad Street Run for decades, I’m thinking 30+ years. When I heard he was going to be the new RD for the Philly Marathon I was excited that their marathon would finally take some steps to stop the long-standing practice of course cutting at this race. He’s been RD of this marathon for 3 years now. Year 1 I got the feeling they cracked down a little, made positive steps. This year, seems to be a pretty significant backslide.

    I don’t think any threat of a lawsuit weighs at all on their decision to not take action. The plaintiff would have to show damages and would also have to prove they ran the course. Chip timing isn’t new technology, it would be elementary for Philly or any other race to show with good reliability that any of the runners Derek highlighted do not have supporting evidence to back up a claim that they ran the full 26.2. We’re not talking borderline cases where someone ran 1:30/1:27 and missed a chip mat in the 2nd half we’re talking completely implausible splits.

  10. Here’s some info that wan’t reported, because events just try and do a good job without embarrassing runners, if possible. Does this look an event that **** Shows Disrespect for Legitimate Runners ****
    Of those 24000 runners. Here what was immediately caught and corrected
    – 453 people drop down to the Half that were assigned to the Marathon.
    – 8197 people that started in the wrong wave and gave them their correct time based on their correct start wave so that we didn’t have to DQ them
    – 147 people that cut the course, mostly because they were tired and not trying to cheat. We don’t embarrass people we try and help
    – 93 People that didn’t hit the turn – around in Maniyunk but finished the race. We have a split that we don’t report there

    Despite what is said online, in this article, no event wants to let cheaters ruin their event. The Philadelphia Marathon very much values the integrity of their results. They do everything in their power to verify results and get them correct. With that said, no system is perfect. They have 24,000 finishers and this report showed them missing 4 runners, 3 of which we corrected shortly after the event but this report didn’t update the story.

    We may not get everything 100% but we do our best to be a 100% in all that we do. We want everyone to have a great experience at our events.

    • David, I pulled a few very specific examples of very obvious results. There are more. Additionally, I pulled the results and grabbed the screenshots the morning I published the article. All the runners I wrote about were in the results at that point.

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