Last week I wrote about Frank Meza. Frank ran the fastest time ever recorded by a 70 year old at The 2019 L.A. Marathon.
Frank was shown entering The LA Marathon course from a sidewalk prior to the 20 kilometer timing mat. Despite Frank’s claim that he only exited the course once for a few seconds “to pee”, the evidence showed that Frank did not appear on the course prior to the location that he emerged.
Despite this evidence and suspicions dating back to at least 2015, LA has chosen not to disqualify Frank.
Derek: We’ve decided to take a different tact: Next time Frank runs one of our races there will be an official observer in place. This is a great opportunity for him to confirm his past performances and end the conversation.
Pending any additional information, this is the best solution for all. Appreciate your efforts. Best.
I was disappointed in this decision. I felt the evidence for a disqualification was there. Given Frank’s prior disqualifications and suspicions, I feel the burden of proof should be on Frank. L.A has known of Frank’s history for years to require that Frank run with an official pacer. Now that the evidence is mounting not only relating to L.A. but other races as well, it is not the time to give Frank the benefit of the doubt.
“This is the best solution for all”
Frank’s time at L.A. is the fastest ever run by a 70 year old. He won his age group. This decision is not the best solution for Gene Dykes who previosuly ran the fastest (unofficial) marathon by a 70 year old, or to Dan Adams who finished in 2nd place (Age 70-74) an hour and 17 minutes after Frank.
L.A. Marathon Rules on Course-Cutting
Course-Cutting: Participants must stay on the race course which is defined as the roadway between its edges and curbs or as defined by marks or cones. Participants who intentionally shorten the route of the race (“course-cutting”) will be disqualified. Any participant leaving the race course for any reason must re-enter the race course where he or she left it or be disqualified for course-cutting. Course-cutting may be determined by eye-witness reports, by surveillance equipment and video, or by the participant failing to register times at timing mats or appearing in race photography. Participants with missing or irregular mile split times at official timing checkpoints will be reviewed and may be disqualified.
While I felt it was clear that Frank did not re-enter the course where he exited, the L.A. Marathon either disagreed with the evidence or chose not to enforce their published rules in this case. To their credit they did reach out and offered to speak with me regarding their decision. We have not been able to connect as of this publication.
Feeling that there had to be additional evidence, I took another look at Frank’s photos. This photo caught my attention:
From the photo sequence, it was clear that this was another automatic camera – similar to the camera that I used to show Frank entering the course prior to the 20 kilometer timing mat. Noticing that the visual showed a long stretch of the course, I thought the photos may yield some additional evidence. The photos clearly showed Frank waiting on the corner. You can follow the sequence all the way to the checkpoint.
The above sequence is evidence that “The Shadowy Figure” referenced in the prior article was indeed Frank. The photographic evidence once again shows Frank entering the course from the sidewalk after no evidence showing that he ran the portion of the course preceding his location.
The rules regarding course cutting are clearly posted on The L.A. Marathon website.
There are now two instances where it is clear that Frank’s actions violated the L.A. Marathon rules regarding course cutting. The rules state clearly that the penalty for violation of the rule is disqualification.
These photos also provide valuable information of Frank’s running pace. Frank enters the course even with runner 40874. This runner crossed the 25k mat at 8:37:54 am. Frank crossed the mat at 8:38:03. Frank lost 9 seconds to this runner in approximately 32 seconds. For the entire marathon, Frank only finished 8 seconds behind the runner.
Frank isn’t just a random runner. In my opinion, he has been very meticulous in his strategy and with his pacing.
Based on the L.A. evidence and the previously published Mesa-PHX evidence, all of Frank’s marathon results (and every split) are suspect and subject to scrutiny and skepticism.
It is not a coincidence that his times were less than a minute better than Gene Dyke’s unofficial record set at The Toronto Marathon. I don’t believe this is the case of someone cutting a course and mis-calculating and setting a record time. I am of the belief that the record was the goal. To what end, I don’t know. Unless Frank opens up, I don’t think we will ever know.
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