Bib Muling at Surf City


One thing that I look for whenever I have a complete set of results are runners with identical split times – or runners with no more than a 1 second variance at any timing mats.

I usually just scan down the list to make sure I cover all Boston Qualifiers ant Age Group winners.

There was one such instance at Surf City. Turns out they were husband and wife.

They both finished in approximately 3:30:00 and their splits were nearly identical. He had plenty of photos on the course, and she was nowhere to be seen. She was not with him at the finish,

The bib mule is on the laft, crossing alone.

There were no photos tagged to her.

Boston Qualifying Time for Her

The time was good enough to give her a Boston Qualifying time. Her husband just missed out. Both have run Boston before. There is not an issue with any prior races or their qualifying times that I could see.

I reached out to the runner and asked him if he carried her bib during the race:

He responded, and said that she was injured and unable to run:

It was all about the legacy shirt that Surf City provides to 3 runs in a row attendees… She doesn’t want acknowledgement or even BQ time. We both apologize for not thinking it through.

I appreciate that he acknowledged that he carried her bib.

We really like those shirts

Whether they did this for a Boston Qualifying time or for a shirt, the most important point is that The Marathon results have been adjusted. She no longer has an Age Group placement or Boston Qualifying time.

One More Thing – To Surf City

While she no longer is in the marathon results, instead of removing her or disqualifying her, they gave her a Half marathon time. I do not understand this. She was not at the course. Supplying her with a Half Marathon time rewards the couple if the goal was to keep her legacy status and get the much coveted shirt.

I did reach out and asked for an explanation as to why she wasn’t simply removed from the results.

Despite his participation in this, he still is listed in the results with no known consequences.

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  1. If anyone is familliar with the Double Dipsea race in Northern California, it’s a pretty big deal to run it. I volunteered at the race a couple of years ago and they gave us race shirts (the race company doesn’t do separate volunteer shirts), but I won’t wear it. I don’t want to look like I did the race. So I really don’t understand doing this for a shirt you didn’t earn.

  2. I get why they gave her the half marathon time. Sometimes, legacy status is the only thing bringing a person back to a particular race. I can understand them extending some grace since it was an injury issue, and they want to keep both of them coming back. There’s probably no way to do that unless she has a finish on record.

    Should they have had to mule for it? Probably not. I imagine if they called ahead of time the RD would have found a way to keep her in it.

    • Years ago I was trying to get into the Boston Marathon Racer’s book on their 25 consecutive Boston Marathon finishes list.

      In 2009 two weeks before the marathon I injured my leg and couldn’t run. I did everything I could up to the race to be able to run it to no avail. I finally went and got a deep tissue massage and an injection that at least allowed me to hobble from the start to the finish line and keep my consecutive finishes streak intact.

      My father was also running that day. The thought never crossed my mind to have him wear my bib if I couldn’t run.

      My streak ended well short of 25 in 2012 when I failed to re-qualify but I would not have accepted any sort of recognition for consecutive finishes if I couldn’t run.

      Injuries happen in running and that is part of the deal and part of what makes a consecutive streak impressive. They ought to not award “legacy status” to someone who didn’t run the race and if she doesn’t come back so be it.

  3. It’s still cheating. The fact that the race “downgraded” her distance to the half marathon instead of removing her from the results shows just how… desperate(?) the race is to have people coming back to get their legacy shirts. This opens the door for potential future cheaters who want that same legacy status, which may very well include BQ times and AG winning times.

    I also doubt that she’d have missed racing Boston had she used her “time” at Surf City for “her” Boston qualifying “race.”

    Three races in a row is not a lot. It looks like they don’t even need to be the same distance. Suck it up and try again is what I say! You’ll feel a lot prouder wearing that legacy shirt knowing it was earned, and not stolen.


  4. Come on guys, it is not like they are Olympic medals. I would understand if they just awarded medals for the three top spots, but now that everybody gets a medal they mean something just to the finisher, but they are not such a great deal. The same with shirts, it is not like you feel entitled because you have a Surf City finisher t-shirt. I could buy one of them at a thrift shop and use it as a pajama. Who cares if someone uses a shirt or a medal they did not earn? Really? Why make such a big fuss.

    The only situation I agree needs to be addressed is when someone gets into Boston and prevents a real qualifier from running it. Or gets a top spot at a race and prevents someone from taking his/her place at a podium.

    Other than that if someone falsely finishes in place 1,000 and wants to brag about this WHY SHOULD ANYONE CARE?

    Time to stop this nonsense.

    • Rolando,

      Part of me wants to be on your side I’d rather see the fruits of the labor end up rewarding someone who could have been robbed of the experience of toe-ing the line at Hopkington than someone who is just trying to “reward” themselves with an ill-earned (or unearned) medal or shirt.

      But I’m part of the crew that deeply and truly believes that things like this, whether it be shirts or medals or BQs, are always to be earned, not bought or “earned” by some shady loophole.

      I guess I’ll just never understand why someone would long for an object, like a medal or shirt, without the hard work that goes into the process of earning said medal or shirt. Without that hard work behind it, what’s to appreciate about the object?

      Maybe that’s why I’ll never understand people who play the lottery (which is really just a tax on people who aren’t good at math): how can you appreciate the money without putting in the worn of earning it?

      An admittedly odd analogy, but I think it works.

      • You don’t know me, so please don’t make any assumptions. I don’t condone cheating, but also don’t condone public shaming.

        • And yet shaming is one of the very best ways to keep people operating within the rules.

          Just one example:
          “According to Braithwaite, shame plays a key role in the regulation of social behavior (Braithwaite, 1989). The majority of people have an ‘anxiety response’ to deviant behavior and this response makes most criminal behavior abhorrent to them. It is fear of this response, not the threat of the criminal justice system, which stops people from committing crime. Such internal control is a powerful tool that begins in the family, where “morals are clearly drawn and evil deeds identified”. But even when this internal control fails us, a second form of shaming – external, social disapproval by persons whose acceptance we value, serves to reinstate our conscience to where it should be. In a British survey, 55% of the young people interviewed ranked the most important consequences of being arrested as what their ‘family’ or ‘girlfriend’ would think about it, with a further 12% ranking the shame of having to appear publicly in court as the most important (Braithwaite, p.393). This suggests that people are deterred less by the threat of official punishment than the threat of public disgrace. The loss of status, respect, and affection is significant to them, but it is not a threat that public officials can make. It can only be made by those who have a significant personal relationship with the offender.”

    • I get your point of why spend time going through results to find this kind of situation. But this is just part of Derek’s process. He sees something suspicious and follows through. If this couple had both qualified for Boston and registered, then everyone would be applauding him. Just because they didn’t doesn’t mean he isn’t going to follow through.

      If race directors are going to offer such things as bonuses for repeat participants, they should make it legit or else it devalues it for those that do it legitimately. If she couldn’t run, then maybe volunteering at the race could be a way to keep your legacy status. Or a donation to the charity. Whatever.

    • Because it is disrespectful to the sport and to the people who bust their tail in training and preparing for the race no matter how fast or slow they finish it.

  5. I recently ran the Celebration Marathon in Florida. We (my sister and mother and I) signed months ago when feeling more inspired… race day came, and nursing an injury I decided to run with my mom. She had been training her tail off. We went out comfortable at 9:30 pace and I ran with her each step. The weather sucked and at 10 miles (we were Ill prepared, soaking wet) elected to complete the half because she couldn’t feel her hands or feet…. this was allowed, just had to turn in to the finish instead of the second loop and make sure you checked in with the timers to ensure you were recorded in the correct race.

    We had the EXACT same splits at each mat (there were a lot on the course) and when I looked at the pictures she is in 0 because her bib was covered by her rain jacket in every one. Mine were clearly visible because I’m dumb and suck at layering. Hah.

    She was on track to run a 4:20 marathon – which would have been a BQ (or close) but it would have looked suspicious with a 30something running the exact splits and in all the photos.

    All of that to say, my mom is bad ass enough to potentially warrant Marathon Investigation scrutiny 😂😂 and I am so proud.

    • Kim – If Derek were to look up your photos, he would undoubtedly see another person beside you that he could easily assume was your mom, right? So while her photos may not show up for her bib number they would for yours.

      • Also Derek has used pictures of people accompanying one another to reconcile odd results – with or without visible bibs. A few months ago he helped a guy get validation of his results because his bib was poorly placed. IIRC the guy got a Boston spot from Derek’s help.

        • CB and MattW.

          Entire post was a funny realization on parallels in a situation and a humble brag on my mom.

          I wasnt saying I actually thought it was suspicious.

          Forgive me my sense of humor. I’ll refrain in the future… 😬

          • Kim,

            Your mom is pretty bad ass!

            A parent/child running relationship is pretty cool. One of the best things in my life.

  6. A couple of questions. 1) Would you get the legacy shirt at packet pickup or only AFTER running? 2) Are we sure that the explanation is valid – i.e. would the wife have used this result as her BQ if Derek didn’t catch this? Guess we’ll never know on that one, but it seems like a disproportionate amount of desire for a t-shirt.

  7. Rolando. There’s no public shaming. We don’t even know their names. And now we know that you receive the legacy shirt at the expo not after the race. Did they do it to ensure her legacy status? Seems somewhat legit though you’d always know there was that one year you were injured and lied. However, now we know she actually did run the half (edit on the fb page). So that makes me question if they did indeed do it for a BQ.

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