Frank Meza has been disqualified from The 2019 LA Marathon after evidence that he cut the course has been mounting.
From The L.A Marathon website:
June 28, 2019
After an extensive review of original video evidence from official race cameras and security cameras at retail locations along the race course, Conqur Endurance Group has determined that Dr. Frank Meza violated a number of race rules during the 2019 Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon, including re-entering the course from a position other than where he left it. The video evidence is confirmed by a credible eyewitness report and our calculation that Dr. Meza’s actual running time for at least one 5K course segment would have had to have been faster than the current 70-74 age group 5K world-record [an impossible feat during a marathon].
Dr. Frank Meza is disqualified from the 2019 Skechers Performance Los Angeles Marathon.
The revised results for the Men’s 70-74 age group are:
- 1st – Dan Adams – 4:10:07
- 2nd – Marek Malolepzy – 4:11:08
- 3rd – Joe Ogata – 4:25:24
As previously reported, Frank was also disqualified from The California International Marathon in 2014 and 2016. Frank was banned from CIM after the 2016 race.
Frank’s Marathon History
|6/1/2014||3:02:39||Rock n Roll San Diego|
Given the overwhelming amount of evidence at LA 2019, and his prior disqualifications, and subsequent ban from CIM, every result of Frank’s is open to scrutiny. As every race is examined, There is evidence of suspicious behavior.
Evidence has been presented to The Mesa-Phx Marathon. They are in the process of reviewing. I plan to follow up with them again this week.
I have been meticulously going through the data from Frank’s previous races, one race at a time. As I’ve been doing that, a letsrun.com poster by the username “deadesq” has been uncovering a mountain of photographic evidence from these other races as well.
Below is just a sample of what’s been uncovered. I will present these photos and others with more context as I report on each race.
I feel that it is important that I continue to report on the evidence for each race that Frank has claimed a finish.
In nearly all of these races Frank has claimed age group awards. The proper winners deserve the recognition, even if that recognition is long overdue.
Time To Come Clean
Frank has enlisted friend and fellow coaches in attempts to thwart the investigation into his times, and to try to cast doubt in the evidence that myself and letsrun users have put together. As Frank has likely learned, such attempts generally serve to add more fuel to the fire.
In my opinion, Frank’s best option at this point is to come clean and admit to what is obvious. I am not suggesting that he simply ask for his results to be removed because ‘it’s not fun anymore”, but to admit to every instance of course cutting, apologize to the races, the true winners, and those that have been attacked in his defense.
It is likely that those that so strongly came to his defense now are able to see the truth. Maybe someone can convince Frank to act appropriately and to come clean.
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My goodness that’s a lot of cheating over the course of 10+ years.
Yes, I can’t think of anyone else like that.
I applaud your efforts – and the efforts of the LetsRun community. Putting aside Pike’s Peak (up and down a mountain) it is plainly obvious that FM’s 2008 Boston time is FM’s approximate PB…when he was 60 years old. That explains why he never ran Boston again – he couldn’t cheat his way to an astounding result for his age. I suspect he first started seeking a BQ, then age group awards in the local marathons, and then age group world records once he got high on his own supply. Over a decade he meticulously planned each marathon like a bank robbery – excess clothing, hat, and sunglasses for disguise, check, start near the back, check, hit all timing mats, check, hit most likely photo ops, check, avoid WR splits after CIM, check. Like Baby Driver or The Town. I’d binge-watch a Netflix series on FM.
“knowing how far the cameras capture a picture” sh*t, forgot about that
Thank you to the Letsrun amateur investigators and to you, Derek for obtaining all of the photographs and video, analyzing the data and pressuring LAM. The age group winners deserve their awards. The world records deserve to be above reproach. We can only hope your work will deter other cheaters.
Next LA Times headline: “Dr. cheats to win mostly meaningless races. What’s he doing with your healthcare?”
Excellent work here. I’m glad to see that LA has (finally) taken the correct course of action. For Frank’s sake, I hope he finally does come clean. I’m sure his mental health will benefit from not having to keep up the lies any longer.
Given the guy’s reputation in the community, and his great regard for himself, I wonder how he got started cheating. Was it to maintain his times as he got older? Did he always get a thrill out of finding ways to beat the system? He’s got a story to tell. It’s a shame we’ll likely never hear it.
Given his age, he probably doesn’t face much professional risk. On the other hand, what would it be like for him when he goes to a dinner party or sees friends casually? In the back of his mind, isn’t he wondering if they know? If they’ve circulated email to one another, “Hey, did you see this thing about Frank?” To wonder if your friends know about your cheating, wouldn’t that be soul crushing?
Brilliant work. Well done Derek and Lets Run. Now that it’s proven he cheated, it’s also apparent from the shots of him “running” that it was always obvious that he was never capable of moving this fast. It’s funny how the veneer of legitimacy conferred by his original race results can so effectively suspend one’s disbelief.
Now in hindsight, it is ludicrous that this shuffling tortoise could ever have been considered a “world record holder” in any running capacity whatsoever.
I wonder about Pikes Peak.
Yes, I get sceptical as soon as someone declares a race “impossible to cheat”, it seems to be a form of self-flattery as in “I can’t think how, so it must be impossible”. Recall that the RD of the VIA Marathon described his course as more or less impossible to cut – because he hadn’t thought of stepping off the course soon after the start, driving to the finish and stepping back on with 400M to go.
The Pikes peak results are the most confusing to me, i’ve talked to a friend who ran it, and actually ran it during one the years frank has and they are perplexed too. being 10 years ago he can’t remember if they note your bib # at the top, but if they don’t then he could have conceivably just walked off the barr trail and then reentered. My friend at the time was running really well, low 2:40’s for flatland marathons and he was 43 at the time of the race. He didn’t have any altitude experience but he was super fit and he only managed to run in the 6 hour range. He also said he got severe AMS at the top which slowed his decent. How does a 60+ year old male, who lives at sea level that cant run a legitimate marathon under 4 hours, run the hardest marathon in the US in under 6 hours??? it baffles my mind.
I am actually running pikes peak this year(full) for the first time. My flatland time is usually in the low 2:40’s but ive broken into the 2:30’s on a few occasions. I also have hiked Barr trail about 4 times, done Mt. Whitney Mountaineers route, summited a crap ton of 14kers in Colorado and I also have completed 4 of the 7 summits, so I have major altitude experience, id still be super happy for a sub 5 hour time. Your telling me a 60 year old man can run close to that?
If Derek or anyone else can figure out if he cheated at Pikes Peak, I will make a donation right away, I don’t want to compete at this race if there is any inclination of cheating, it invalidates all the training and all the hardship people who legit complete Pikes Peak Marathon, and for everything it stands for.
Francisco Meza (son?) ran Pike’s the same year, but the times don’t line up. I wonder about Pike’s too. Hard to cut the course since your bib needs to cross the finish line at the top and get a check mark. It’d be possible to have someone mule it for you if they were careful.
Pikes perspective. I’m a flatlander (with an altitude generator, but I don’t think I had it for my first Pikes) and my PR that summer (june) was 2:55. 45 ish years old then. I did 5:58, but my vision went double on the downhill (found out later I’m cross-eyed and that happens to me on all long downhills) so I had to walk most of the second half of the race. I got to the top in 3:17, so 2:41 to walk/jog the down. Frank’s to the top time is listed as 3:53 (https://pikespeakmarathon.org/results/2013ppm_m.htm) so that’s 2:18 down, doable if one can assume a fit, 3-hour marathoner.
Edit: I ran in 2014 and 2015. So we weren’t on the course at the same time. I was looking at his 2013 performance.
You guys sound faster than me. My PPM PR is 5:29, with a 3:15 up, meaning that I’m not great on the downhill. We’ll see how this year goes.
I’m perplexed how Frank could cheat PP. Others have mentioned that cheaters years ago started part way up the course; that is hard with a starting mat now. There have been issues with runners cutting switchbacks (seems to be a European thing), but that doesn’t save a lot of time. Bib muling is the “easiest” way to cheat, but I haven’t checked the data enough to be able to accuse home of having his son do that for him; their times were close(identical finish) once but I can’t find the pix.
My guess is that Frank is actually a pretty darn good runner and he didn’t cheat all of his races. But somewhere along the line his ego took over and he started cheating to keep improving his times.
Somebody else pointed out that he is a Doc, so PEDs can’t be ruled out. Doh!
Great job Derek and Letsrun. Finally LA Marathon makes the right call after all the evidence and his prior history. Looking at his past Marathons I can tell you from personal experience after running these marathons that Santa Clarita, Long Beach, Carlsbad, and Surf City all have numerous out and back portions that makes cheating very easy. I would say all his past runs need to carefully scrutinized and investigated as they all look suspicious after all these disqualifications and no contesting by FM. Amazing that he hasn’t been caught long ago. After all this has come to light it still amazes me that he not only has not come clean and apologize but has the nerve to tell his close coaches and running friends he now has a heart condition that will probably keep him from running again. That’s as close as a confession as we will probably get from him. It’s sad that the cross country kids have this guy as an example to follow. FM should be ashamed and banned from running ANY race ANY distance in the future. This guy is a real piece of work.
He can’t even keep his story straight, he tells one audience about the heart condition and other audiences that he will run monitored to prove he has the ability.
“With this latest disqualification, L.A. officials have again asked Meza to run with an observer. He said he plans to enter in 2020 to prove he can finish the marathon in less than three hours.
“That’s my only silver lining,” he said.”
How they haven’t banned him I have no idea.
He was caught in CIM 2014 and 2016. That’s why they banned him. LA Marathon need to do the same since he has been cheating at that marathon since 2015
Oh, the tangled web we weave.
Witnessing someone who otherwise had a stellar reputation self-destruct due to his own hubris is starting to get very sad.
Yes, it was sad from the very beginning. I get uncomfortable when smoe of the other commentators gloat over Meza’s downfall. Cheating is unequivocally wrong, but this guy is neck deep in it, and I can’t help but pity him and wonder what drove him so far into the deep.
No sympathy from me. His reaction at every step was to deny and double down. He deserves all the blowback he will receive, and a lot more.
I consider it sad because what gain was there in it for him? Not many people give a shit about who won an age group in a marathon. And what was the loss? He’ll be branded a serial liar. That’s not an equitable tradeoff. It is, however, a good object lesson. Here ya go kids, here’s what not to do.
Even now he can put a stop to it, when people are pushing at an open door, they stop very quickly. No gloating here, just dislike of cheating and lying.
Is there anything in common among the races he’s participated in? For example: out and back course, multiple lap course, etc.
Very good question.
Who is Frank’s Coach Rosie Ruiz?
This needs a Scooby Do ending – Frank takes off his mask to reveal he is none other than Kip Litton.
Dr Meza maintains his innocence and his times do seem pretty consistent. It’s weird to think that he’d dedicate a decade of his life to meticulously planning a 2019 WR. It just doesn’t add up. I don’t see the motivation. I’m not a marathoner, so forgive my ignorance, but couldn’t he just hit the local high school track for 105.5 laps and put this to rest? He’ll either run a 3 hour marathon or he won’t, and it’ll be pretty easy to witness.
Side note – I’m equally confused by the Pike’s Peak marathon; how do you cheat that one?
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