Serial Course Cutter Uncovered After Impossible Chicago Splits

Runner Used Suspicious Berlin Time to Enter The 2019 Boston Marathon

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Last week I started my review of The Chicago Marathon. The obvious course cutters were already removed from the results. The runners that missed multiple mats have been removed. Emily Clark has been disqualified.

However, I uncovered one runner with a finish time of 3:10:00. The splits show that the runner undoubtedly cut the course. Further analysis showed a history of suspicious results.

2019 Chicago Marathon

Manuel did not miss any of the timing mats on the way to a 3:10:00 finish, but one split was particularly suspicious.

MileTimeTotal PaceSplit Pace
6.20:46:060:07:250:07:27
9.30:54:390:05:520:02:45

Manuel shows that he ran the section from 10k to 15k in just over 8-1/2 minutes, a pace of 2:45 per mile.

It is clear that Manuel cut the course. He cut sometime after crossing the 10k mat, re-emerging so that he crossed the 15k mat.

His time was not a Boston Qualifier, but this result led me to look at his historical results on Marathonguide.com.

Marathonguide listed two other results in Manuel’s history.

2017 Baystate Marathon

His splits at Baystate are as follow:

MileTimeTotal PaceSplit Pace
3.00:23:080:07:430:07:43
6.20:50:030:08:030:08:23
8.51:09:460:08:120:08:37
13.1Missed
16.3Missed
18.6Missed
23.0Missed
26.23:17:350:07:320:07:13

Manuel was slowing down with each split. The last intermediate split that he registered was mile 8.5. He ran through 8-1/2 miles at a total pace of 8:12 minutes per mile. His pace over the rest of the race (where he missed all splits) was 7:13 minutes per mile.

2019 Boston Marathon

His fastest time that I could find was at Boston.

MileTimeTotal PaceSplit Pace
3.10:21:330:06:560:06:56
6.2Missed
9.3Missed
12.41:11:570:05:470:05:24
13.11:17:050:05:530:07:32
15.51:36:090:06:110:07:52
18.62:01:120:06:300:08:04
21.72:26:570:06:450:08:17
24.92:51:480:06:550:08:00
26.23:02:430:06:580:08:00

Manuel missed the 10k and 15k splits. His pace was much faster over that stretch.

The last piece of the mystery was to figure out how he qualified for Boston. From his bib number, I determined that his qualifying time was approximately 3:01:45. After much searching, I found myself on Worldmarathonmajors.com and found his qualifier. He qualified at The 2018 Berlin Marathon.

His Berlin splits are below:

Manuel missed the splits between 25 and 35k. Converting to minutes/mile, he was averaging 8:08 minutes per mile before the missed splits. Where he missed splits, he averaged 5:01 minutes per mile.

The course map shows that he likely left the course just after 21 km and re-joined before 37 km.

If you believe he cut the course in Berlin, that would mean he cheated to gain entry to The Boston Marathon.

One point of interest. There are two sites where The Berlin Marathon times are posted. He is not in the results on Berlin-Marathon.com. The splits I pulled were from results.scc-events.com.

Although he was removed from the official results on The Berlin Marathon’s official website, he was able to submit his time for entry into Boston.

2019 NYC Marathon

I saw that Manuel was registered for The 2019 New York City Marathon. I tracked him throughout and he hit all the splits and none of the splits were suspicious. He finished with a time of 3:38:00.

Manuel is a good runner, but not quite a Boston Qualifying runner. The times he used to enter Boston, and that he likely used for other races were bogus. He has cut courses at 3 of his 4 World Marathon Major Races. I will be reporting his results to WMM as well as the other races.

Manuel did not enter The 2020 Boston Marathon. His (disputed) time of 3:02:43 would have been fast enough to get him in.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. One minor correction – It looks like his split times in Berlin are in minutes per kilometer, although you later say minutes per mile. I think probably just a typo.

    • Derek converted the min/km to min/mi for us US readers. Was averaging 8:08 min/mi but for the missed splits average 5:01 min/mi.

      The times for the missed splits in the chart are estimated using his average time before the missed splits. When he hit the next mat, it has him running negative min/km to correct the estimate. Or he jumped into a time machine(?).

    • He was saying that during the stretch without registering mats, his “pace” was about 5:01/MILE – even though when he hit the mats they were ~8:08/mile (~5/km) – an obviously impossible time. It tripped me up at first too, and probably he should clarify what he means, but the time Derek lists is correct. It might be clearer if he states that the race is presenting time in /km.

  2. The only course-cutting I am unclear on is the Boston example. How did he get from the 5K mat to the 20K mat without anyone noticing him leaving the course? And how would he have spent the 45 or so minutes when he wasn’t running? Normally after running at a fairly decent pace, even for 5K, if you stop, you’re going tie up a little bit, but he was still able to run around 5:00/km, which isn’t BQ pace, but it still is a 3:30 marathon pace.

  3. He probably got in line to use a porto-potty while scanning the crowd. When he saw a moment where the spectators were focusing on the course and not on him, he snuck away. Bear in mind that there were periods of bad weather, although it was not as bad as 2018. That’s my guess.

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