Claims of an ‘Elite’ Runner Unravel at Disney


The conditions at The Disney Marathon were rough. It was warm and humid, slower runners were diverted to a shorter course due to the heat.

Michael ran a Personal record, despite these conditions. He was an active participant on The 6AM Runner Facebook page. Leading up to the race he posted that he was put in the ‘Elite’ corral.

Am I in 2:30 shape? Probably Not.

Mike was not in an Elite corral. There are 25 numbers assigned to the Elite corral. He was in corral A which is for non elite runners with a proof of time under 3:40:00.

Mike was an ambassador for 6amRun, Shortly after the race, he posted on their message board: He said he ran a time of 2:39:46.

He also sent a message to 6AM stating that he finished in 4th place. They shared this on their Instagram page:

His time actually would have been good enough for 5th overall.

Even at Disney, all fairy tales need to come to an end. Michael in not in the official results. He last showed up on tracking at the 10 mile mark.

If you believe that there was a timing error, you would have to believe that in these difficult conditions, he ran significantly faster for the last 16 miles, than he did for the first 10 miles. After running the first 10 mile at a 7 minute pace, he would have had to run the last 16.2 miles at a 5:31 minute per mile pace, on a day where the course was shortened for many runners because of excessive heat. He only appeared in a few photos, all in the early morning darkness.

For his medal photo, he made an outfit change.

Part of my analysis is to look at a runner’s history. Most of his runs that can be verified are around 7:00 to 7:30 minute per mile pace. He did run a 5 mile race at 6:30 minute per mile pace. He ran The 2019 Chicago Marathon in a time of 3:19:23. That result looks to be legitimate.

His Strava is interesting. There are some anomalous runs that were manual entries. The paces simply are not believable. For example, he claimed to do the below runs in succession.

Other False Claims

Disney is not the only race where Michael’s claims do not line up with the his results: He claimed a 1:17:03 at The Popular Brooklyn Half Marathon. He finished in 1:28:26.

At The Run with Santa 5k, he claimed a time of 15:21, he finished in 22:35.

6AM Run

I spoke to the owner of 6AM Run. As soon as they became aware that Michael’s claim of a 4th place finish at Disney was false, they severed all ties.

michael has also told 6AM that he ran with the Elites.

After they approached Michael regarding the allegations, they woke up the following morning to find that Michael removed himself from the group and blocked them from his social media.

All ties have since been severed, as one of our core values as a company is honesty. – Hami Mahani – Owner 6AM

Hami explained that anyone can become an ambassador for 6AM. Anyone who wishes to can receive a unique code. If 2 people order products then the ambassador receives some free product. Michael did receive some free product, and a singlet.

Hami said that this was a learning experience for 6AM. Anyone associated with the brand will be vetted. They are committed to not having this situation repeat itself.

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  1. If you also look at his outdoor training runs, you will see a huge gap between his “moving time” vs “elapsed time”…for example, a 7.46 mile run he claims to have done at 7:18 pace, 54:29, however, the elapsed time he was actually out was 1:35 or a 9 mile run at 7:11 pace, 1:04, really took 1:43… I understand some stoppage time due to lights, etc. but hi elapsed time is significant!

  2. Very sad, indeed. His honest times are perfectly respectable. He should feel no shame in running as he truly runs and should feel no need to manufacture faster times. He seems to be a perfectly fine runner. Hopefully he can learn to accept that one day.

  3. Where all your dreams come true… except the one of you cheating the Mouse.
    It’s a shame. Dude is otherwise a damn good runner, it seems

  4. Interesting, his name is just Mike throughout Derek’s post, but his last name is shared on the Disney site and all of his social media.

    Do we even need his full name? Perhaps not.

    The nature of the internet is that once your name is on there it’s forever. I’m not defending this guy’s obvious cheating but there needs to be a solution between sharing the information, getting some justice and ruining a guy’s online life (and to some degree his life in total).

    And yes I’ve gone back and forth on this, because it’s not an easy subject. Like Emily Clark who admitted she cheated – give her a break. Then did it again – sorry, you blew your path to redemption.

        • No one cares, the information is available. He is a scumbag. He chose the route to block the run group and block everything. Let him come out and apologize. Future employers should question him about this. Nothing wrong with that. It’s who he is.

          • The thing is, even if he apologizes that part won’t make it onto the internet.

            Look, I don’t like what he did and I wouldn’t do it. But I don’t think people’s lives need to be ruined for slight errors in judgment. Plumping up your race time isn’t the cardinal crime that DUI is or robbing a bank or….so on. Indeed it’s not a ‘crime’ at all. And after the Meza incident I think it’s worth thinking about.

            (BTW, I went to one of those really tough schools where we “would not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate those who do.” People who did those things would get kicked out…but they didn’t get the rest of their lives ruined in the process.)

  5. I met this guy at the marathon!! He was showered and in recovery shoes while we were watching runners at mile 24.5. He was telling everyone he got 4th and we were in awe because it was only 8:00 and he was finished, clean and sporting his medal

  6. Out of curiosity,has he used his cheating marathons to gain entry in to Boston or any other qualifying race?

    This just shows certain individuals NEED acceptance and love by strangers on social media, otherwise why continue to falsify your finish times when people can look you up? LOL

    Also the times I race, my “perceived exertion” is always hard. I race to my best ability and I am also a competitive masters and division runner, so I want to do my best and strive to podium.

  7. I loved his facebook comment, “I wish I could say i am going out there to just have ‘fun’ and enjoy the scenery, but that’s not my style.” Soo Douchey! It makes the fact that he cheated and got caught all the more sweeter.

    Interesting post though! Enjoyed reading it!

  8. Again, claims of succeeding against insurmountable odds to triumph victoriously. It’s a trait these cheaters have in common.

  9. Again, claims of succeeding against insurmountable odds to triumph victoriously. It’s a trait these cheaters have in common.

    Oh, and double (double double in thos case) letters.

  10. This post is no way protects our sport. People are going to boast, but he didn’t use it to cheat into Boston or bib mule or even cheat in the actual race. You should take this guy’s name down.

    I believe in you and your sleuthing, donate to your cause, and was an avid fan of your podcast when it was active. I support catching cheaters. Calling people out for boasting on social media is doing no justice to the world.

    • He did cheat in the race. He only crossed up to the 10 mile split. No splits after, nor pictures. Is what the start of the article is about. The shorter results are what you are correct.

  11. This one is strange. I don’t really get the incentive to cheat. Seems like he was a perfectly OK club runner with decent if not spectacular times. Just be happy with that.

    • There can be a lot to be gained from being a guy in his claimed performance tier, you are not elite by any means but you’re fast enough to start getting some local attention and perks. I was slower than he claimed to be (4:52, 16:21, 1:17:30) but even at that meager level I started to get some free entries, some clothes, articles in the local paper, etc. It’s not much but people have cheated for less.

  12. It’s sad he or anyone for that matter feels they have to cheat! Cheaters never win!
    You are so there running, you’re already amazing, don’t ruin it by cheating.

  13. I’m new to running & I’m 52 years old with my 1st Marathon being the L.A. Marathon March 8th. It’s sad to me so many people feel the need to cut a course, lie about their times or just plain cheat. I feel bad for people that competitive & it’s sad. Did u finish? Did u have fun? That’s what matters but that’s just me.

  14. Maybe he posts time in his watch that don’t jive with official time? This happens often, including Chicago when you go under freeways and lose some timing information. Just curious if there was any communication with him end possibly an option for him to adjust his posts? Seems like he did run the races although why didn’t my other timing mats catch him after 10 miles at Disney?

  15. This guy needs to learn how to use a VDOT table, if you’re gonna lie about times at least be consistent… that 1:09 half is a VDOT of 69 and that 1:17 is a VDOT of 60. Getting into 1:10 +/- shape isn’t easy for most people and when you get to that level you very rarely have such a bad race that you fall from 1:09 to a 1:17, especially given the Popular Brooklyn Half was a 55-60F day. If you’re gonna lie at least get your lies straight.

  16. One time, JUST ONE TIME, I’d like to see somebody admit that they f***ed up and take responsibility. Otherwise, it’s the same old same. Derek, you rock dude!

  17. His Strava is gone, too. Typical. At least Anita Carcone had the guts to stay on despite her horrible attitude!

  18. The unhealthy and irrational need for social media attention/validation can be a dangerous slope, and this guy seemed to slide way down it. (we are seeing this as a root cause in several of the MI posts) We all have a need for some words of affirmation and a pat on the back at times. This is a good reminder to surround yourself with some people who lift you up and provide that, because if you don’t, and you look to fulfill that need online with strangers, it can be unhealthy and that slope is slippery; this guy slid way too far down that slope.

  19. As a first time marathoner, I chose Disney because I was told everyone was supportive, positive, and slightly less competitive. There was really no need to lie since he clearly is much faster than I was in that heat, kudos for investigating to keep it fair for the rest of us.

  20. I agree with CCB. Redact last names, at least for broader public consumption. We don’t know how people will react to being outed. We don’t need more suicides. Some people are starved for attention and can’t handle the fact that they are not “Elite”. As a new runner, 51 next month, who literally never competed before last June, I have awakened a fairly insatiable competitive drive in myself to be faster and faster. I run half times similar to Mike’s times, and they are respectable for any age. I do not understand why people don’t put in the work to be faster rather than try to lie and cheat.

    • Are you claiming you run 1:28 (or faster), at 51 years old, with only a year of running experience? That would be truly amazing.

  21. I’m not really seeing the cheating here (maybe the finisher’s medal for the race he didn’t finish?). He exaggerated his abilities on social media and that’s about it. If you’re going to start calling people out on that, you better increase your server space. Obviously he has the need for some form of therapeutic validation, but since it’s not really causing harm to anyone, does he really need to be dragged through the mud causing potential other issues? We’ve heard all the arguments “but he did it to himself?” “It’s his own fault!” All true, but so what? Start with being a human and empathizing with the potential seriousness of the actual issues.

    • I don’t understand why people are saying they don’t see the cheating here…. he didn’t run more than 10 miles and claimed to run 26.2 in 4th place. Then he went on to try to make a personal gain on various social media platforms. He also has a repeated pattern of doing this. What are we (as humans smh) supposed to emphasize with? He is claiming to be something he is not, he is clearly cheating, and this needs to be vetted from our sport. If you don’t agree with this basic idea, why are you on this website?

    • “Cheating” is subjective, but in my sport (cycling), I don’t get paid if I win. It’s just bragging rights.
      And not that I have ever won, to be clear, I have never won, even once, presumably that’s the goal.

      And yes, I like to compete, not merely stroll around ‘having fun’. Nothing wrong with having a hobby where you don’t do any competition, but for some of us, the competition is the fun, it is the sport.

      Anyway, so cheating is subversion of the rules in order to obtain advantage. This cheater, got to claim 4th place, by merely claiming forth place. He didn’t follow the rules of actually running the race, and achieving 4th place in reality. So yes, cheating.

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