“Everyday Spartan” – Pressure to Break Record Led to Cheating

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Manon Kalfon was one of 8 Spartan Athletes featured on ‘Everyday Spartans’, a series that followed 8 Spartan Athletes, put them through challenges and told their stories.

I will hold on , and even if I have to crawl, I’ll finish

Manon Kalfon – Everyday Spartans

Manon set a goal of breaking the record for the most Trifectas completed in one year. To earn a single Trifecta, a Spartan Athlete must compete in one of each of the following races in a calendar year.

  • Spartan Sprint – 3 to 5 mile race consisting of 20-25 obstacles
  • Spartan Super – 8 to 10 mile race consisting of 25-30 obstacles
  • Spartan Beast – 12 to 14 mile race consisting of 30-35 obstacles, or Spartan Ultra – 30 mile race consisting of 60 obstacles

Manon’s goal was to complete 25 Trifectas during 2019. The record is 23, set by Hartley Mahfood in 2018.

And since I’m 25 this year, I thought I’d do 25 Trifectas and break the world record.

Manon Kalfon Everyday Spartans

Feeling The Pressure

…I did not mean to intentionally cheat

Manon Kalfon – via email

There were a handful of instances where evidence came to light showing that another athlete carried a bib for Manon. There is clear photographic evidence in her two Ontario races and in Vermont. Manon has admitted to this.

The athlete wearing her bib in Vermont was another ‘Everyday Spartan’. The athlete had nearly identical splits (within 1 second at all checkpoints) as Manon.

That of Vermont this one offered to run for me! so don’t blame me!

Manon Kalfon – via email

“I was really hurt and the pressure pushed me to find a solution…I did not mean to intentionally cheat. I wanted to face this record. The pressure on my shoulders was really heavy. No one can understand what I experienced this year. So I don’t want to run for this franchise anymore. Thank You”
–Manon Kalfon

It is clear that at some point Manon knew she would not reach her publicized goal of 25 Trifectas. She says that the ‘bib muling’ started because of an injury at a Spartan race in Poland. This injury likely occurred the weekend of August 25th at Krynica. This aligns with the below listed incidents.

  • Used a bib mule for races the weekend of September 2nd 2019
  • Asked someone to run with her bib in Austria Spartan weekend of September 6th 2019. I have been provided with the text of this conversation. The person questioned the request, and Manon backed off, saying ‘bad idea’
  • Bib Mule ran with her chip for Vermont Spartan Beast September 14th 2019

To be clear, these were not simple cases of bib selling. The runners that carried Manon’s chip, had their own chips, and appeared in photos wearing their own assigned numbers.

There was a situation in Hidalgo Mexico. Manon ran the trail race instead of the Super. I came across this during my investigation. When I emailed her she confirmed that she did not run the Super. However she had claimed the Super on Athlinks.

Claiming a Record

The above was posted on December 14th. It was posted by Manon’s friend and coach, Yanick Dumont. She was approached by Spartan regarding the bib muling at Sparta, a month prior to the claim of 22 completed Trifectas was posted.

Yanick and Manon

There were other results that were questioned based on her pacing and some outlying times. I have not been able to make any determination that she cheated in additional races. I did not have verifiable data to confirm these other allegations.

In one race she was apparently disqualified, but reinstated with a substantial time penalty, allowing her to count the race towards her Trifecta count, but placing her at the bottom of the standings.

On the other side, Manon was critical about what she says is inconsistent rules at Spartan races. She says she was disqualified from one race for helping an athlete in an ‘Open’ race. This behavior is accepted and encouraged in some countries. She also says she was removed from podiums based on some inconsistent rules and enforcement.

In messages to me, Manon has been critical of Spartan:

Have you seen the prices they charge? It’s just a money pump. There is no human service. This franchise should not even exist.” – Manon Kalfon

Rather than being apologetic, Manon has been defiant. She also says that cheating in Spartan races is common and that everyone cheats at least once.

Summary

Manon says that she admitted to the incidents mentioned above while in Greece in the beginning of November. In a post on social media, the Spartan organization had stated that this was ‘taken care of’. I reached out to Spartan for a comment. They promised replies multiple times but have since gone silent. I delayed the publication of this article awaiting a response from Spartan.

I am publishing this article because there was a clear effort to cheat towards a record. While she may have legitimately completed enough Trifectas for the female record, she stated her goal of 25 was to beat Mahfood’s 2018 record. She had set up a fundraiser to offset the costs of the effort and specifically mentioned the intent to break Mahfood’s record.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. “I didn’t mean to intentionally cheat,” I just asked people to carry my bib so I could get credit for a race without actually running it. These people would receive a lot more empathy if they’d come clean, admit what they did, and take the L.

  2. “The pressure on my shoulders was really heavy”. No one put that pressure on her, she put it on herself. How much more respect and likability she would have gotten to just admit she couldn’t do it and the pressure to do so was too great? I’d be willing to say no one would think bad of her if she pulled out of the challenge she herself set up. It’s okay to fail, its not okay to never try. There’s respect in even trying something like this. Too bad too many of these cheaters don’t understand that they will actually more respect when they are just honest about what they can and cannot do?

  3. Never done a Spartan. Can somebody explain how you tackle 25 trifectas in a year? Does that mean that you go to an event every 2 weeks and run all 3 races in the same day?

    • Spartan hosts multiple races all over the world. And some are at different places on the same weekend, as well as offering chances to get a trifecta at a one site (like in West Virginia this past August). To get to 25, it is a heavy, logistical endeavor to pull off. Cheating in the regular heats is normal…but its made sure the ones who are in the first heats do not cheat, nor break Spartan’s rules.

        • There are three standard race distances – Sprint, Super and Beast. Completing one of each is a Trifecta. 25 Trifectas = 75 races. This is an extreme physical, time and logistical challenge.

  4. “She says that the ‘bib muling’ started because of an injury at a Spartan race in Poland”

    Raise your hand if you respect the fact she couldn’t achieve the record because of an injury.
    Ok.
    Now, raise your hand if you respect the fact she cheated to to achieve the record because of injury.

    Big difference, I surmise.

  5. I have been asked reasonably often as a runner if I have taken part in any of these overpriced obstacle course events variously called things like “Hellrunner”, “Mud Monsters”, “Tough Mudder”, “Men’s Health survival of the fittest” etc – I always respond the same way to the effect of these events are nothing remotely to do with competitive running and are just it seems to me a way of extracting cash from the gullible. I suggest turning up at a local cross country league meeting or fell race for proper off-road running.
    Having said that – cheating is cheating, no matter how pointless the event.

    • I’ve done a couple mudders for fun with friends. In one day I got to do all the stupid stuff I did throughout my childhood. It was awesome
      Also, I was a stupid kid.

    • I competed in my first Spartan race last year. We ran about 6 miles going up and down hills, thru rivers, thru copious amounts of mud, lifted things, threw things, climber things, fell off things, jumped a fire at the end and was dead tired when it was all done. It was a blast and I plan to compete in them again. As for cost, if you get in early and use a coupon it was about $80 for the sprint. Received a great shirt, a few free beers, free pictures, plenty of food and had a great time. If you get a little tired of road races throw a Spartan race into the mix and see what you think. You may have fun!!!

      • Over here we have fell races, they generally cost less than 10 pounds to enter and I can confidently say make all of these “challenges” look a bit sick.

    • Spartan is a running race with some obstacles. The Elites includes some sub2’20” marathoners, sky running world champion Jon Albon, and western state 2019 13th place Kris Brown, etc. Even in age group, most of the top guys are very good runners. They are just a bit stronger than the typical runners, can carry two 60 lb sandbags up and down a ski ramp and still run a sub 6 mile on difficult terrain. It’s nothing like a Tough Mudder, it’s a runners race. Of course, open wave is a different story, you just do your best. I would suggest you give it a try, see how you stack up. There’s a chance to win $1million.

    • Those events have their roots in old television shows like “Beat The Clock” and “Almost Anything Goes”. Flash money and/or offer contrived prestige and you would be amazed by the behavior of some people. That being said, there was a time when running a marathon was looked upon as odd and eccentric. In 1897, only 15 runners participated in the first Boston Marathon.

  6. “She also says that cheating in Spartan races is common and that everyone cheats at least once.”

    In the one and only Spartan I ever did, almost everyone cheated. If you skipped or failed an obstacle you were supposed to do a 30 burpee penalty. Sure there were people who did them with horrible form, but most just didn’t do them at all or did enough till the judge wasn’t looking. This was the seeded heat too so these people weren’t just mid-packers competing for fun. It really tainted the whole experience for me. My wife was cheering for me and at a certain point started heckling all the “athletes” who where cheating. It falls right in line with x-fit culture of cheating though, which is here they dredge up most of their competitors from.

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