The Marathon Investigation Process and a False Narrative

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On Runningfatchef.com, Latoya Shauntay Snell’is described as a Food and Fitness Blogger, Influencer, Journalist and Chef. She has a number of sponsors. She has written about her experiences for a number of publications. She went viral after she wrote that she was heckled during the 2017 New York City Marathon.

I received a message last Monday morning. A follower of Latoya’s directed me to a Facebook post where Latoya detailed her race. Latoya wrote that she finished the marathon. But, in that thread it was mentioned that Latoya did not have a time on the results page. I agreed to take a look at the result.

As part of my research, I reached out to Latoya via private message through Facebook and then through email. Latoya shared those messages on her public Facebook wall to her approximate 3500 friends. Her public page serves more as a fan page.

The intentions behind these two messages got twisted. The narrative is that I targeted and harassed Latoya, and that I falsely accused her of cheating.

I feel obligated to respond. The narrative is spreading that I falsely accused her of cheating, and that I wrote about runners that were diverted.

The below post was appeared The Marathon Maniacs Facebook page, a group with over 21,000 members.

I never accused Latoya of cheating. I did not make this public, Latoya did.

The Investigation Begins

I really did not know much about Latoya until I received the message. While Latoya was not vying for a BQ (She’s a back of the packer, same as me). I agreed to look into the result. Here was my response that I sent to the emailer.

I have always been as upfront as possible about my investigations. The procedure I followed here is the same as I always do.

First, I looked at the available data. Her times were cleared out from the race website, but the splits were still showing on the RnR Marathon app. She had no time registered at the 18 mile mat and an increase in pace from over 16 minutes per mile to just over 10 minutes per mile. This fact was brought up in Latoya’s thread. She posted that she was going to contact RnR over the timing error.

I contacted the timer. I wanted to check to see if there were any known timing issues that could explain her result.

Latoya Snell RnR New Orleans

Questionable split times…and gone from the results page. Is this a clear disqualification? Haven’t looked at the full results yet, wanted to make sure the pace change wasn’t due to a missed timing mat.

They confirmed that the data was accurate.

At this point, I was fairly certain that she did not run the entire 26.2 miles. I was not certain what led to that happening. I hope that the messages I sent to the original emailer and the timer show that I did not enter this investigation with any assumptions.

Reaching Out

As I always attempt to do, I reached out. I chose to reach out via Facebook messenger. The thread where she was interacting was on Facebook. I did not want to post on the thread. I wanted to reach out to her privately.

As I typically do, I also sent a friend request. I know from experience that it is not always obvious when someone you are not connected to sends you a message. They are easy to miss. I’ve had many occasions when I attempted to contact people and the messages went unread. Her page appeared to be more of a fan page, she had thousands of friends.

She responded within a few hours and was very polite. She talked about the race experience, but nothing about the timing situation, etc. She asked that I email her with any further questions.

Shortly after she responded to my messenger request, I looked up her Strava. Her Strava Flyby video confirmed that she had not completed the entire course. It showed she was short approximately 3 miles on the out and back section where she missed the timing mat.

I knew she had not completed the entire course, but I did not know the circumstances.

Later that evening, I sent her a follow up. I was more direct. At this point I knew with 100% certainty that she did not complete the full course. Publicly she was still maintaining that she ran the complete distance. I did not know why she turned around where she did. I was hoping to get that answer.

Hello, this is Derek from Marathon Investigation.

Just have a simple question. Did you complete the full marathon at RnR New Orleans? You are missing the 18 mile split, and had a much faster pace along that stretch, which raises flags.

Thanks
Derek Murphy
Marathon Investigation


She responded to me stating that she had run the entire distance. She Thanked me for reaching out and wrote the following regarding the marathon.

“Thanks for reaching out again. I completed the full marathon. My pace was around 16 to 16 1/2 minute pace or so each mile with a finishing time hovering painfully close to 7 hours.”

She went on to express that she felt that she felt my initial message was less than forthcoming.

“To be very frank –I’m very aware of what you do and would’ve appreciated if you were bit more forthcoming when writing me on Facebook messenger. Your ‘simple question’ and comment about ‘red flags’ infers something else and already gives me an indicator of what you’re looking to claiming. Feel free to do as you wish, as each marker was up on the course until the very end. I was one of the last 20 or so people who crossed.”

I wrote a quick response, telling her that was not my intent, and began composing an email where I would show her why I felt it was clear that she did not complete the full 26.2 miles.

Making it Public

After this, she made my emails to her public by posting on her wall. I attempted to explain that I was following my normal procedure and simply was trying to figure out what happened. Readers of the thread felt that I was harassing Latoya. I was honestly trying to get to her side.

At that point, I knew that she had not run the full distance, and she was saying that she did. Had I already decided I was going to publicly write that she not completed the full 26.2 miles, I could have done so. I reach out to runners in an attempt to allow them to provide an explanation that explains the evidence.

In the thread where she shared my messages, she reiterated that she had run the entire marathon.

let him check. The course markers were up the entire time and I was so slow that I started seeing a vehicle sweep a number of times. There’s photos of me all over the course all the way up to the finish.

I replied to comments within the thread. Latoya’s main complaint was that I was not upfront with my intentions in my initial message and that I chose to contact her through messenger and that I sent her a friend request.

I wrote: You are disparaging me on your page when I had not written a word about you. It would have been disrespectful had I not reached out. By reaching out I was giving you a chance to explain what happened. “

I thought we were back to the point where we could continue the email dialogue. I intended to follow up with her the following day and share the details of my information to try to figure out what happened that led to her missing the 3 miles.

On Tuesday afternoon, she posted statements across social media stating that she was misdirected on the course along with 18 to 20 other participants.

View this post on Instagram

Unfortunately I have to share a development with you guys here that I learned while trying to come back home to NYC. On February 10, 2019, I participated in the @runrocknroll NOLA Marathon. I was (and am) a proud fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I was on an emotional high on Sunday when I thought I completed my first marathon of the year. A few hours later, a few friends and loyal followers noticed a spike in my time that was drastically different than what I know is my pace. It showed my 15 to 16 minute average jump to a 10:21/mi, something that I am only able to maintain for less than 3 miles on great days. On Monday, I reached out to a representative from RNR, seeking for my official time because this too, was not noted. During the investigation, they learned that 20 or so participants including myself, were deemed disqualified from the race due to missing a section at mile 18. We were all turned around prematurely. I will ask in advance to please don’t harbor hard feelings for this organization, as they issued me a very sincere apology. Shit happens; life happens. I have another chance in a few weeks in Tokyo and I am looking at this experience as an opportunity to go back to NOLA next year for redemption. Unfortunately marathon 16 is not in the books. I haven’t decided on what to do with this medal because I have mixed feelings about it. I’m contemplating doing a marathon on my own or guessing the missing mileage and running the distance this week. Who knows. All I know is that I gave it my all. Thank you so much for everything. I will be continuing my training and looking forward to Tokyo. I’m a little bruised but not broken. #runningfatchef #fatrunner #shithappens #marathoner #ultrarunner

A post shared by Latoya Shauntay Snell (@iamlshauntay) on

Early that morning she had made the initial thread private. She re-opened that thread around the same time she posted that she was misdirected. I knew she reopened the thread when I began receiving notifications through Facebook.

To this point I had not written a single word publicly about the situation besides my replies on Latoya’s wall. I wrote nothing on the website or the Marathon Investigation Facebook page or group.

It also needs to be mentioned that I was being criticized in the thread for not doing enough research on Latoya. Contacting Latoya was part of the research. I had not written any article, I had not made any conclusions regarding the circumstances on race day. I was criticized for not doing enough research while I was still doing research.


Had I not legitimately wanted to get Latoya’s side, or if I wanted to label her a cheater, I would have had no need to reach out to her. I could have posted an article on Tuesday morning. At that point, she was saying she had run the full marathon, I had clear evidence that she didn’t. I didn’t need to contact her to post that if that was my intent. I truly wanted to know the circumstances.

While I was trying my best to have a rational discussion despite the harsh replies from Latoya and others on her wall, I was blocked.

Further Investigation

Still, I continued my research. I concluded that it was very possible that she was actually diverted. She was behind the required pace which would require a 7 hour finish. Had she not been diverted, she would have finished well over 7 hours. This is not a criticism. I am also a back of the packer.

I do not know what was communicated to Latoya on the course. There could have been confusion. I consulted with the timer and we agreed that there was likely no intent to cheat.

I sent an email to Latoya (and copied her publicist as she requested) telling her what I thought had happened and that I do not believe she did anything wrong on race day.

Hello Latoya,
I again want to reiterate that my intent was not to accuse you of cheating.

When I said there were flags, I meant there was something not right with the result. It wasn’t meant to be a comment on any intent on your part. I could see how you may have taken it that way.

I was certain at that point that you had not run the entire course. I did not know the circumstances that may have led to that.


I do know that RnR has been known to redirect runners from the back if they were behind pace, so that they could collect a medal even if they aren’t official. Based on your post this afternoon, I think that is quite possibly what happened. It is possible that whoever told you to turn around did not communicate that clearly.

Again, I apologize if I came off as accusatory. That really was not my intent. I’ve found no good way to ask these questions.


By the way I’ve completed 11 lifetime marathons. Just got back into it last year. I am a back of the packer to be sure. My two finishes last year were close to 7 hours, and I got pulled from the course at the Air Force Marathon due to the heat. I was on pace for well over 6 hours there as well.

Good luck.
Derek

But the threads continued on her page. The narrative was that I was harassing Latoya. All I had done was send her those 2 original messages in private.

I still had not written a word about her on my site or on The Marathon Investigation Facebook platforms. She continued to disparage me on her page despite the fact that I had not written a single word about her publicly, aside from attempting to respond to the claims made on her page.

The below post was made on The Marathon Investigation Facebook Group. At the time this post was made, the group was private.


I responded on the thread, trying to clarify that I had only sent the two private messages to Latoya and the email where I said that I believed she was diverted. It was Latoya made this public. It was only after her supporter posted in the group that Marathon Investigation followers became aware of the situation. Even then, this was in the private group, not on my public page..

There was criticism that we were discussing this in a closed group, I then opened the group up so anyone could read the posts. The debate was only happening because of the post saying I harassed Latoya. Her criticism is ironic as I was blocked on Latoya’s page and unable to respond on these threads.

The narrative continued on Latoya’s page. They felt I accused Latoya of cheating, and that I had not done my research, etc.

She responded to my apology on her page:

“Fuck Your Apology, Your followers came over here trying to avenge you. They can lick the same toilet seats with that bullshit apology.”

She went on to write that “My ‘outrage’ is due to what he could do” . At this point there are a half dozen or so threads on her page that are serving to publicize the narrative that I was harassing Latoya, based on something that ‘I might do’.

“My Outrage is due to what he could do”

An example of Latoya’s response to a question, alongside a recent tweet

In Defense of RnR

There was an established cutoff for The marathon. The cutoff was 7 hours. Latoya was one of the very last runners at the time I believe she was diverted. It is my opinion that Latoya, and the other runners,were diverted so that they had an opportunity to cross the finish line, even though they would not be in the official results.

Latoya’s unofficial time was 6:42:46.

Adding in the time it would have taken Latoya to finish the missed 3 miles, she would not have been able to finish without being diverted.

In the past, many runners at RnR events that were diverted or bussed to the finish ended up in the official results. They have cleaned up their processes, and rightfully remove runners from the results if they did not physically run the entire distance of the race.

Summary

I was put in the position of having to defend my process against the narrative that was continuing for nearly a week. The claims against Marathon Investigation were unfounded and inflammatory. The examples that I posted were just a small portion of the comments made regarding my intentions, my methods, and my research.

I have not sent anyone over to her wall to make comments. On the contrary, I discourage that behavior. I do not hold Latoya responsible for her fan’s behavior. I welcome the debate on my pages and on my site.

While I have questions as to how it was that Latoya didn’t know that she was diverted or how she didn’t know that she only ran approximately 23 miles, I would not have written an article once she conceded that she did not run the entire course.

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88 COMMENTS

  1. “We were all turned around prematurely.”
    “I believe she was diverted.”

    If this were the case, I would expect the race organizers to be able to confirm.

    • I do hope they choose to make a statement. If she didn’t turn around, she would not have finished in time to receive an official finish, and would have been swept. We will probably never get confirmation as to exactly what happened on the course. But like I said, I never would have written an article once she posted that she did not run the full distance.

  2. I had never heard of LaToya before reading these posts. I took the time to read all of the posts, replies, and responses on both Facebook pages. There is only one conclusion to be made here. She may not be a cheat, but she certainly is a liar. I wonder if you saw all of the foul-mouthed (and sometimes threatening) statements she made on her site. What a piece of work.

  3. I think Latoya is harassing you. It’s pretty obvious they turned the last of the runners around without making it obvious (maybe they had headphones on) that they were being diverted to keep the course closure on time. She needs to stop being so defensive and accept her fate.

  4. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”

    My guess is anyone who gets contacted by Derek immediately gets concerned that they will be accused of cheating–not necessarily from what Derek says but simply from the nature of the site. It’s like if the IRS contacts me, my first thought would be that they were going to audit me. In addition, I can also imagine that a person of color participating in a sport such as marathon where they are sharply underrepresented might even more have the alarms up for being singled out.

    I’ve read this site long enough to see that sometimes even articles here the meaning of the prose is sometimes unclear; I imagine this might be the case even more so in a brief DM contact.

    Perhaps it might be better in that initial contact (with anyone) to give a lengthier explanation of who he is, why he is contacting, what he hopes to get from the person he is contacting–all that upfront in the first contact, to allow people a better gauge of intent. Might help diffuse situations like this before they spiral out of control. It’s easy to suspect ulterior motives in short messages.

      • I did apologize to her over the initial tone and she initially accepted. At the time I wrote the 2nd email I knew she didn’t do the full course and the directness was a probably a result of that.

    • “Diffused Situations”

      The situations seemed to have been cleared and diffused with their mutual understandings and their respectful apologies shortly after the first DMs.

      But then for her to do a complete 180 in her responses and attitude? THAT reaction is uncalled for and THAT behavior seeks not to diffuse any situation but to bring light and attention to someone who thrives on drama and the sympathetic spotlight.

    • It seems that those who would fear ulterior motives, like Latoya, are the cheaters or known course cutters. Would you fear an email or IM from Derek after you finished a race? I sure wouldn’t. My splits, garmin data, photos, and prior race history would provide all the answers needed. She didn’t run the full race and wants to play the victim because she got caught.

      • One of my running dreams is to set such a ridiculous marathon PR that Derek feels compelled to email me for all my training data. I might in fact insist that he write an article on his conclusions.

  5. Are you kidding me? Derek, I think you do some important work exposing race cheaters, particularly cheaters who steal age group awards or who record fake BQ times. But this particular expose was a colossal waste of time! Your time, my time reading this very lengthy report, and even my time writing this comment. A 16 minute per mile runner who missed 3 miles on the course? Please find some more important fish to fry! I generally am a big supporter of your efforts and really appreciate it, but this one is ridiculous. And if I missed some of the nuance of the back and forth that raised this dispute to the headline level, that’s because I couldn’t bear to read every word of it.

    • It wasn’t an expose. He asked a question and she escalated to start going after him. I have no problem calling out people in a constructive manner, including Derek, if I feel something is wrong. It’s what people should do. We wouldn’t have known anything about this if she responded or didn’t make this public.

    • Integrity of the sport is important, no matter what someone’s pace is. I am a back of the packer myself and if I knew someone running my pace who was diverted was claiming to have run the whole distance when I worked hard to get to the finish legitimately, I’d be upset. Just because someone is slow doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held to the same standards as the fast people. We are all runners, some of us just enjoy the course for a little longer than you. Deception and the response made this newsworthy. Lack of integrity should always be called out.

      I am not sure you’ll consider reading this a waste of your time, but I hope you do and gain some perspective.

    • I don’t want to speak for Derek, but I don’t think the purpose of this article was the subject herself as much as Derek having a platform to defend himself against an online mob that seems to have completely changed the narrative.

      Sure: she has a large following and even a publicist, so if she cut the course while claiming that she ran the entire thing then maybe that is worth a tweet.

      But when the narrative gets this confused by people and Derek and his site are disparaged publicly, then I think Derek should write an article like this for the sake of clarity. It’s not as exciting as Mike Rossi or some girl maxing out her credit card at Kinkos to copy bibs for a local turkey trot for her friends, but it’s useful to see some of the “behind the scenes” action that Derek goes through during the investigation process…and how that process can be run completely off the rails and be misinterpreted.

    • I’m sorry Mark, I see your point but have to disagree. This is not you or me at the back of the pack, this is a self-described “influencer,” I can’t speak for Ms Snell but a lot of people monetize their social media and thousands of followers as “influencers.” While I agree that Derek could be a little more upfront and say “I have questions about your marathon time,” her response was way over the top, playing the race, gender, and bullying cards. The more you put yourself out as a public figure, the more you have to expect some scrutiny or criticism. In conclusion, I appreciate her supporting a good cause, St Judes, which I also support, and think it’s certainly possible she was an innocent victim of miscommunication. Although maybe next time check her own Strava.

    • Literally missed the entire gestalt of the posting. When someone is defamed by person and by brand, and in a rather racist way, you respond. This is a classic case of mistaken intent due to not being able to judge tone and tenor through text. That paired with what appears to be her sensitivity to probably very real bullying just for not being a size 2 runner, made her react the way she did. However to continue the attack, take it to a racially motivated level, and defame a brand and individual, it warranted a post. The only wasted time on this was in your case, and I agree, you wasted it tremendously by reading the post, reading the comments, writing your comment, and then continuing to read the responses to said comment. Maybe cut your losses and stop following this page?

    • If you were so interested that you commented, you should have read enough to see that Derek tried to keep it private; if she had gone no further than trade apologies with him, we’d never have known. SHE is the one who took the NUCLEAR OPTION. It then went to her Facebook, a glorified ILM site, and the MI Facebook group (which you apparently don’t follow. Her (and her followers) doubling and tripling down on HER narrative all last week almost cried out for this response. I for one commend Derek for holding off, until he was almost required to respond.

    • It’s like you didn’t even read the article. Derek wasn’t going to do anything until LaToya and her followers started exposing themselves. No one would have known anything about this until that happened.

    • Disagree, she makes $$ from her “fat runner” (her words) brand and chooses to put herself out there.

      It was also interesting to see what goes into the process of fact gathering.

    • This person calls herself a “professional athlete”. ie: she’s making a living from it. She’s got a pretty large on line presence, she’s got press coverage both in main stream papers and television, and while she is clearly not a podium figure, this only became interesting when she started to double down on it. Her strava is now private. The so simply could have been sorted by her saying, “no we got diverted, I didn’t do the whole thing.” It then probably wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. It makes me question her other results. As a back of the pack runner myself, I’m constantly running against the sag wagon, but the greatest shame I could ever bring to myself would be to claim something that wasn’t mine. In fact I’ve been in the position before where the timing system initially incorrectly timed me, and I immediately contacted Derek to say “hell the last thing I want to be listed as is a cheat, what do I do?” I couldn’t get a resolution quickly enough. My strava was all available etc. Luckily the timing crew realised they had the finishing line matt too close to the loop lap and several athletes had been mis-timed, but it was all sorted much to my relief. You bet she’ll get a lot of people covering what she does in Tokyo and other events.

  6. What is sad is that she claims you’re harming her 11 year old son with your false accusations, etc., but does she apparently has no concern that her son will read the diatribe that she has written about you and what an really poor example that is for him.

    • Her son was standing next to her in part of her video post where she was ranting, and other times he was walking back and forth in the background. She was not setting a good example, even if he hadn’t had access to read the posts. He would have heard her cussing and disparaging another person to thousands of followers on social media.

  7. Yikes!!!

    So much of this makes me question why people follow her, or people like her.
    I understand it’s really motivating when someone pushes themselves, overcoming obstacles, to do something difficult (like run a marathon).
    But the insults, racism, and foul language…? That is uncalled for, even if you were doing what you were accused of.

    You did what was right, and you are helping give this “sport” a better reputation. It makes me feel better about crossing the finish line, and proudly displaying my medals that were Earned.

  8. wow that’s pretty bad, i hope her sponsors look into her. It’s bad enough she lied about finishing the whole course but her behavior over the situation is just embarrassing.

    • I think THIS ^^^ is an important point. When one chooses to be an “influencer” or public figure they have an obligation to comport themselves with dignity or risk losing credibility and sponsorship. It’s one thing to feel offended and defend yourself, it’s quite another to become so base in communications that it’s actually embrassing to the brand you’re representing and in her case, that is MANY…Skirt Sports and Hoka to name just a few.
      I recently started following her on IG after I read an article on a triathlon forum about her wanting to do a 70.3. I’m rethinking that now. And if she’s concerned about her 11 year old son seeing all of this…you’d think she’d consider her own responses as well.
      I hope the brands re-think they’re support.

  9. I initially investigated this because of an email. When someone suspects an athlete with a significant following of cheating, that person should either be vindicated or possibly callled out.

  10. Good lord with the dramatics. I can empathize if she has been put through the ringer throughout her running career, that would lead to defensiveness. But to double down and make it a personal vendetta due to her size or what not, is ridiculous. But when you need to be heralded as some sort of warrior who is fighting the good fight against OMGHATERZZZZZZZZZZ all the time “just to occupy space and breathe oxygen” as she says in one of her exchanges, then this fell right into her lap and was a godsend, as you just “proved” how persecuted she is on the daily, and fuels her “fellow warriors” towards this false narrative. Reminds me of Reagan Chastain. DO NOT go down that rabbit hole of f**kery…

  11. I absolutely love how she talks about how her 11 year old son reads her page but yet, she likes to use inappropriate language in her writing to you. I got diverted for the MCM which cut off 2 miles. You know when you are being diverted……

  12. I think she felt she had to defend her “self-love gravy train to fitness” business model once it was exposed her achievements were not what she claimed them to be and then she chose to #BeBest with the cyberbullying in order to get her base all frothed up.

  13. I’ve followed Latoya on Instagram for some time, listen to her guest a number of podcasts, and have been a fan – I’m saddened to see her behave this way – so over the top defensively and unfairly critical what you’re doing, in addition to numerous lies. It’s really unfortunate when people lash out at others, as some kind of dramatic defense mechanism over their own circumstances (whether cheat, or diverted, or otherwise).

    • I felt the same way. I listen to her on 300 pounds and running and I follow her on social media. I think she’s hysterical and I’ve loved watching her journey. I was so disappointed with the reaction to Derek’s message. If she just responded and left it there then there wouldn’t even be anything to write about.

    • I checked. There are a LOT of 00:00:00 times at the end of the results, which means they’ve already cleaned up their results. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem the DNS is separated from the DNF… Because if we could see some Strava flybys…

  14. The whole “who the f**k are you b**ch. Take your Quaker Oats @$$ off my page” juxtaposed against her anti-online bullying comment is striking. Pot, meet kettle.

    • Seriously!

      Derek, aka Mr “Quaker Oats ass”. I’ve never thought about breakfast cereals used in racist ways, but there ya have it. What if Derek had stooped to her level and and used some particular breakfast cereal to defame her. The wave of angry responses would’ve been huge.

      I think her response showed who she really is. The image she promotes is just a front for her business ventures. Sad that all of her followers are being misled to believe she is something much better.
      Who she really is, that’s quite evident based on her responses.

      I would’ve known something was wrong when my watch and Strava showed 23.2…. Which is a good training run, but not a marathon. But I guess when you’re an influencer, you gotta keep up the “right” image.

      If I was a sponsor, If unhook from this train wreck ASAP.

      • Thankfully, Derek didn’t respond in kind, which is good because that would have played out very poorly indeed… That would have just proved her imagined offenses.

        But on that note, part of me wonders if she was actually trying to get that kind of reaction… Who knows, it’s crazy enough as it is.

  15. Now, would I have known I got diverted and missed 3 miles after 6 hours? I’d be cursing my life choices at that point, and I can certainly imagine not registering those three miles…

    Until, that is, I looked at my watch. She knew.

    And then she got a couple emails from Derek and, realizing who he was, saw an opportunity. These days, victimhood imparts power… And power corrupts. She gets to add to her victim resume, and gets to bully someone else for a change. All class.

  16. Golly, I sure hope Hoka One One, Skirt Sports, UltimateDirection, and BoCo don’t read this article. I don’t think they’d be impressed by their ambassador’s comments.

    Most of us love a positive come-back story like hers, but now we all are forced to wonder how many other untruths are part the online image she’s created for herself.

    Its going to take one neck of an apology to make this one go away.

  17. This is why people are skeptical of you. There’s almost no reason to do even half an investigation on a 7 hr marathon runner.

    • If you are a 7 hour marathoner in the public eye and one of your followers thought you cheated, wouldn’t you want an investigation to clear your name? I agreed to look into the result. The investigation could have served to clear things up as there were people that thought she cut the course. I don’t know what an investigation will show until I look.

    • So he should only investigate people whom run under a certain time?

      Marcus it seems like your comments intent is “skeptical”.

  18. I would bet the vast majority of her followers are not distance runners, so they never would have questioned anything. The way she posted on IG the day of the race, it seemed like a believable story. Of course it was her own narrative that didn’t mention anything about the sudden, inexplicable increase in her speed. She said in her original IG post that she ran 26.2 miles. She knew she didn’t, but her followers took what she said as truth. Here is that post. I’m surprised it hasn’t been edited or taken down by now.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Btt9TRlhq1B/

    She certainly provides inspiration to many, but she seems to have created a false persona, whether for her own ego boost or for some other gain. She didn’t post anything about questioning the results until someone else brought it up. And I highly doubt any apology was made to her by RnR – unless they are well aware of her wrath and didn’t want to deal with it.

    Had I stumbled upon her profiles on social media on my own, I would have seen the picture she portrays of herself and might have thought she was doing a pretty good thing. After reading her responses to anyone who dares to disagree, express an opinion, or God forbid, asks a question, I see her for the scumbag she really is. Just read the rants and illiterate responses on her Facebook page, and compare them to the well-articulated discussion on Derek’s FB page. We are dealing with two classes of people here.

    I’ve done 17 marathons with my fastest being 5 hours, 43 minutes, 11 seconds. I have never cut an inch off of a race and I can proudly say I COMPLETED all of these races. There are plenty of us at the back of the pack, but a cheater is a cheater (I don’t think she cheated) and a liar is a liar. She is full of crap. She knew very well that she didn’t complete the course. And she also knew exactly why.

  19. On one hand, I get that receiving a message from Derek after doing a race would have anyone on edge. It would be nervewracking, to say the least. That said, she went beyond what was an acceptable response and got extremely defensive. It makes me call into question her honesty in the entire thing…because it’s not normal for a perfectly honest person to react in such a way. I’m not saying she cheated. But it’s not a normal response at all if you truly didn’t realize something was off. She made it a profanity-laced “woe is me” tirade to get her followers to jump on her bandwagon, likely because she felt embarrassed for being called out (though it wasn’t even really a call-out and it was in private). Children tend to have the same reaction. CHILDREN. It’s a reaction to the embarrassment and a desperate need for validation from her followers. Sure she could claim otherwise, but this is textbook psychology.
    What’s interesting is that she claims Derek could get sued and yet doesn’t seem to realize her own (false) statements about someone could have the same result where SHE is sued. As for me, her behavior is enough for me to steer clear of her and never recommend her to others. She has proven what her character is REALLY like when things don’t go her way. And that’s a pretty poor character indeed…even if she HAD finished.

  20. Derek, i read your article with interest. I think you may have missed Latoya’s deft move to take control of a media opportunity; inflaming a situation to a point where she grows more in social media statue. This is shown why there is more social chatter on her being harassed than the actual incident which is now diminishing into insignificance. She has, or possible under guidance of her publicist, managed to limit any brand damage and possibly increased her position as an ‘influencer’. My only advice for the future, is if you take on a social media self-styled celebrity blogger, make sure you research and screen their character; as it may help in reaching out to them and protect your reputation. All the best on your future investigations.

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head. She is not the only “I’m always being bullied” blogger on the internet. The persona only works when the blogger is the victim that’s “rising above”. Without that tension and drama, the persona collapses. I know many people that are fans of hers, and of other “you can do anything despite what people/society/haters say” bloggers, but when the drama gets ahead of what should be positive and empowering, it’s just sad.

    • Chris took the words out of my mouth…have seen it so many times wit different bloggers, especially mom bloggers. There was a “viral” blog about a mom getting scoffed at on a plane because her child was fussy…people I know went to comment on the blog, and anyone that questioned the situation or didn’t agree with the blogger was blocked and their comment deleted. They put up an announcement against “bullying”. I’ve seen other bloggers with the same deal, claiming they’re getting death threats, blowing things up because someone disagrees with them, and the followers jump on commenters like a pack of wolves. “Hater!” “Troll!”

  21. Derek, I’m sorry this happened. I get the impression that your articles are well considered and fair. I agree that she probably didn’t actively cut the course and was probably directed by race officials. However, at some point you know something is wrong when you instantly go from mile 16 to 19. I have run near 100 marathons and can’t imagine mistaking 23 miles as a full marathon. I ran this race. I work hard to get to the finish and take exception to anyone claiming a false result. Everyone should be subject to scrutiny, particularly those benefiting publicly from their claims.

  22. Derek, I support what you do because I hate cheaters. But I think this is a perfect example of the influence that social media has on tribalism in our society. In other words, no matter how strong your argument you’re unlikely to convince Ms. Potty Mouth’s followers that you’re not the bad guy. I say that because my girlfriend is an entreprenuer and she’s unfortunately learned the hard way that no matter what you do you can’t make everyone happy, so you shouldn’t waste your time trying to do so. Keep fighting the good fight and ignore any personal criticism, as you’re doing important work.

  23. She recorded her own mileage, Derek saw this on Strava, anyone who has done any runs/races would have looked at their time/distance for that race and realised they had not done the full 26.2.
    IMHO she went mental mode because she knew she had lied claiming to have completed the marathon.

    • Yep, ain’t no marathoner worth a damn that a) doesn’t immediately -and by immediately I mean as soon as they turn their watch off – recognize they haven’t logged the full 26.2 (or more, cuz tangents ya know) AND b) doesn’t immediately start wondering how to do it better next time – even if, like me, they swore there never would be a next time. SHE KNEW she didn’t finish the distance. SHE KNEW. AIN’T NO QUESTION IN MY MIND SHE KNEW.

      I’ve only done 2.5 fulls, but I donated the .5 shirt to Salvation Army yesterday. My only DNF so far I have no desire to keep the shirt.

  24. Sometimes you just can’t win Derek. You were very fair and conducted yourself professionally. The same can’t be said for Miss Latoya.

    “Influencer,” lol

  25. Ms. Snell is one of many personalities in the fitness world whose main persona is about being bullied and rising up in spite of those perceived criticisms. As such, their whole public persona kind of collapses when they are no longer bullied. I can see how if that’s your whole thing on the Internet “I’m always bullied and put down”, then you might be predisposed to assume that you are being attacked even when (as here) that was not the intent. I looks to me that Ms. Snell used what was a miscommunication as fuel to fire up her fans. Sorry it came to that.

    • Found this on her blog:

      “In fact, I recently jumped up close to a thousand followers in the last 36 hours at the expense of being a target of heckling on social media.”

      ding ding ding ding!!!!

  26. I’m throwing this out there because I read a few times (not in this article, but in her original posts and comments – and from others comments – on her page) Didn’t she claim her watch died and she couldn’t see where she was at? Yet I see here that her Strava still registered her distance and time … Every race i’ve ever done (70+ 5ks, 10 – 10ks and 8 halfs), I always go straight to my phone or watch as soon as I hit the finish line. I would know instantly if I didn’t run the full race! Plus I watch for the mile markers religiously so i always know where i’m at. She even said so herself, the mile markers were all still up. I would notice if I went from mile 16 to mile 19

  27. A “social influencer” who is using manufactured “social influence” to grow her followers!!! End of story.

    Derek, keep up the good work.

  28. Wow, I also feel sorry for the crap you have to go through to do what I assume is NOT your full time job. She made this an issue not you.

    After this, I feel the need to support your site and the work you do.

    Thanks

  29. I don’t understand why R& R has not come out with some explanation themselves. I am Miriam Cutelis and came in a minute before her across the finish line, see my time. I am familiar with her so I saw her coming back towards on the out and back and I said hi, she did not know me and understandably ignored me(I would have been around mile 15 ish and she would have been after the mile 18/19 turnaround…. she was way ahead of me at some point when we crossed. Then, when I was around 22-26 I was practically beside her until I passed her. These are not exact figures by far………my question is if she was way ahead of me at mile 18 (for her) why would they reroute her then? I came to mile 18 much later than her, so why was I not “rerouted?”…. at her mile 18 she was way ahead of so many of us who made it past the finish line under the cutoff…….makes no sense to reroute some and not all…. can you post what R$R has said about this?

    • I cant see your splits anywhere. But if you finished around the same time of her, and she was diverted by 3 miles and you were not, she had to have been quite a ways behind you at some point. Had she not been diverted, she would not have crossed the finish until 7:30:00 – 7:45:00.

      • I am a consistent 6:30-7:00 finisher as shown on my running resume https://www.athlinks.com/athletes/153842544. I wore two old 220 gamins for the 4/1 interval beeps primarily and use them one after the other has died. The batteries do not last long. One reads 22.14miles and the other reads 3.84 miles, I shut the watch off that last mile because I straight ran the last mile. I am not a big data girl, and never download my stuff, but if you’re interested I’d happily send my detailed info. The 18 reading mat was right at the turnaround and by the time I hit it there was maybe 1 person far behind me and 1 far in front at all times…all whom I saw cross the finish line at some point. The loopy-loops of the race might have confused some. If you look at the map of the race course, around mile 20- 22 (not sure exactly) there is this knot pattern on the course…. perhaps some got messed up there. Again, I a waiting to hear (from your investigation) if this is true of Rock & Roll that back of the packers were (and are often) diverted just to get a medal. That would make me furious if they did this as a standard practice!!…. as a back-of-the-packer that would not be okay for me from a race company ….who wants a medal they did not earn? Please do post what R&R has claimed happened? I also feel R&R needs to come out and speak out. This is important to me as a runner and I am not signing up for any more of their races until I know for sure this is not a standard practice of theirs.

        • RNR is routinely known for their candy fanny half-assed race approach. They don’t care about anything but the $$$. Decertify their BAA results and stop patronizing them and the running community will be better off.

          • The Chinese holding company that own IronMan bought Competitor Group, including the entire Rock ‘n’ Roll series, in 2017. My understanding is that there was a pretty ineffective merger/takeover in terms of staff (the Competition Group staff who were offered jobs–and not all of them were–were told they had to move from Competitor Group HQ land in So Cal to Florida, where IronMan has its HQ). 2018 was the first year Rock ‘n’ Roll operated entirely under the new IronMan management, which was evident from the generic race shirts and medals that started 2018. (Once the runners profusely complained, they switched to more location-specific designs.) IronMan made some additional interesting choices around this race series, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they change the “bump forward” and “divert” policies that used to characterize RnR.

  30. If you get diverted and miss three miles, I find it difficult to believe that you didn’t know. I guess its possible, but her reaction to all of this does not make me inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.

  31. Just an off the wall comment about “social influencers.” The race reports always are these epics where the hero/heroine overcomes everything including amputation and rabid tigers (OK maybe I’m exaggerating but so do they) to stay the course and this is considered a triumph. So here’s a thought. I’ve now run 23 1/3 marathons and ultras. The ones that were triumphs weren’t the ones where I dealt with unbearable pain and hopped to the finish. They were the ones where I finished (generally with a PR) and thought “Damn that wasn’t so bad” The ones where I felt terrible were generally the ones where my body was trying to tell me. “You undertrained Dumbass!!” Maybe its just me but successful running isn’t about pushing through walls of pain, its about training and concentration. Maybe a 400 or an 800 should hurt for a few hundred yards but any other race…. not so much. Granted this lady is not your average runner.. but still.
    Also 15 of those Marathons were Big Surs. If you can’t break 7 hours in New Orleans beating the cuttoff at Big Sur (which is enforced) is going to be a Big Problem. (Big Sur was mentioned in the original instagram post non-race report.)
    Keep up the good work Derek. I think you are being played to try to change to storyline.

  32. First of all, I have always appreciated and respected your thoroughness and fairness in your investigations… and I continue to do so. I believe her aggression is because she was called out and is trying to “save face” by saying that you’re harassing her. It’s classic gas lighting behaviour. I’m truly sorry that you’re having to deal with her slander. I’m sure she’s used to negative comments, but her defense is misdirected in this case.

    Secondly, I call bullshit on her not knowing that she didn’t finish the entire marathon. I’ve had a similar situation and MADE SURE that I did the whole distance.

    Keep up the good work that you do!

  33. I ran that race and the tracker was completely off, the split mats were nowhere near correct, and I’m 90% sure the course was short by a tenth of a mile. The finish line clock was off by 39 seconds, but that’s ok, because the tracker app was off by ten seconds. And the leaderboard had gun time -2 seconds. Just a complete mess. But RnR doesn’t care. They’re totally in it to make money off overpriced registrations and throwaway crap from the expo.
    So weirdly enough, mile 18 is where I think the race was mismarked and short (although multiple mile markers were off, this one was clearly short; I manually lapped and got a full minute thirty off my pace). But I have no idea how you could be diverted and skip three miles. Mile 18 was right before the turn-around on the lake, so wouldn’t you still have to go back the way you came no matter what? Curious.

  34. And in a shocking development, Latoya, the professional athlete, was swept before the 10K mark in Tokyo. You better believe she jumped onto social media almost immediately and let her followers know. No way she would try to falsify this one.

  35. someone really needs to look at the rest of this chicks marathons. Per her own posts she was gasping for breath and on the struggle bus by 2 miles already. If she was about 3 miles short in NOLA and finished just under 7 hours and swept from Tokyo by the first check off which would have been about a 15-16 minute pace I believe, I just am struggling to see how she ever actually completed a full in 6:33 which she claims as her PB. If she did and she is just off form lately, well great but …. it’s a bit of a stretch and although she frequently posts her gym workouts, idk that I’ve ever seen her post training runs. And the problem is she is making a good living off these claims.

    • I can’t believe all the sponsors she has given the foul language frequently dotting her blogs and social media posts. But, I can guess the reason they sponsor her.
      And I feel bad for the obese folks who follow her and want to run marathons and ultras before losing the weight. Not that you have to be svelte, but the pounding your knees take on the pavement is not good. What’s that formula, x-number of foot pounds for each 5 pounds of body weight above a certain weight?

      Well, so it goes on the internet……

  36. I ran Tokyo yesterday too— there were a ton of chances to cut the course- but they were looking. They had people staged all along the places where you could easily cut. The first opportunity wasn’t until mile 7.. which she never made it to. That would have jumped her all the way to mile 19. Next chance wasn’t until mile 8 that jumped to 14. They had timing mats every 5k though- so it’d be too easy to see. Curious if Derek found any course cutters.

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