In both 2018 and 2019, over 5000 runners were disqualified from The Mexico City Marathon. It was widely reported, both here and through other media, that a major factor was the coveted medals.
From 2013 through 2018, finishers received medals spelling out M-E-X-I-C-O.
After the ‘O’ was handed out last year, the thought was that the incentive to cheat would lessen.
However, for 2019, The Marathon started a new series of medals. From 2019 to 2024, the medals will come together to form a map of the city as reported in The Economist.
The 2019 edition of The Marathon was held this past Sunday. By the time I was able to pull initial finisher data, some runners had already been disqualified. When I was able to pull complete results on Monday evening, 2000 additional runners were removed from the results.
There were less runners this year than in the recent past. For 2019 there were less than 30,000 starters, and after the disqualifications, as of Monday evening, there were 19,742 finishers (8000 fewer than in 2018).
It is not known how many of the roughly 10,000 non finishers were disqualified and how many did not finish (or did not start). I do know that the total number of disqualified is greater than 2000.
The Economist also reported that runners caught cutting the course in 2019 would be banned from participating in the future.
I messaged with a representative of Ya se cansaron – Running Team, and I asked if they felt the cheating compared to previous years. Members of this group have been vocal against this cheating.
“They continue to increase, only that this year the cheats were more careful, they hid the numbers so not to be evidenced or they broke the chips, so as not to leave passage in the marks of every 5 kilometers.”
With the threat of bans, if runners don’t register at the checkpoints, and aren’t tagged in photos, they won’t likely be caught. They would simply register as DNS (Did not Start), but still would be able to collect their medal.
Not all runners were as cautious. As in past years, runners were pictured on the subway, and on the side of the course, waiting to jump in.
With thousands of course cutters, this cheating is not without consequence. Many of these cutters are finishing with very fast times – sub 3 hours and faster. These runners adversely affect the runners that are legitimately competing.
The Economist reported that in the past the subways have been clogged “It is also because cheating marathoners have been known to hop on for a quick detour to the finish line”
To their credit, Mexico City has been quick to disqualify these runners, and the bans should have an effect beginning in 2020. The runners that have “broken their chips” are unlikely to be caught, but at least they will not appear in the results.
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