The Other Side: Runner Bumped from Podium Reaches Out

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Marathon runners on the street. Healthy lifestyle. Athlete endurance

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After I published the article about cheating at The Marathon of The Treasure Coast, I received an email from the runner that was cheated out of her podium spot.

Hi Derek,

I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for your work regarding the TC Marathon results. I was in fourth place at the TC Half marathon wave 2 and I was a little disappointed not to make the podium. A friend sent me this article and then I realized what had happened. I’m disappointed that I did not get my podium moment but I’m so grateful to you for exposing this so that I can at least get my award. I made a small donation to the website to show my gratitude.

Thank you,

Caroline Bell

The above letter is exactly why I continue the work of Marathon Investigation. The site is not about taking joy in exposing cheaters. It is about doing all I can to make sure that deserving runners do not get cheated. Every article is posted with this goal in mind.

Statement From The Marathon of The Treasure Coast

Mike Melton, the race director and timer of The Marathon of The Treasure Coast, emailed me as well with their official statement.

When the bib-swapping issue came to our attention, we immediately contacted the runners involved, notifying them of disqualification and removal from results unless there was some possible acceptable explanation of why it occurred.  No explanation was forthcoming, so the runners were disqualified and removed from the results.  We will not tolerate such behavior at our events, and we pledge to be vigilant in pursuing any instances of possible fraud, cheating or unethical behavior.

Sincerely,
Mike Melton
MCM Timing and Results LLC

Why not just report cheating to the race? Why write an article?


If a runner witnesses cheating, they should report it to the race. However we have seen time and time again, that while this may result in a disqualification at that particular race, it does not always deter the runner from cheating again. Their cheating is swept under the rug, and they repeat the behavior at another race.

The articles on Marathon Investigation are not just about preventing the subject of the articles from cheating again, but to deter others from cheating. If someone thinks they are likely to get caught, they are less likely to cheat in the first place.

Anecdotally, I have heard from race officials that believe cheating is down. They are seeing less instances of bib swapping, etc.

Frankie Ruiz, race director of The Miami Marathon reports that banditing is down at his races. For the past few years, Frankie has posted videos pulling bandits off the course. Marathon Investigation has shared his videos. Frankie reported that banditing was down by about 50% at The Miami Marathon and Tropical 5k in 2020 vs. 2019. Less bandits means less strain on officials and volunteers, and ultimately benefits the race and the legitimate participants.

When I first started investigating Boston runners, there were plenty of obvious cheaters getting into the field, and running Boston. Now, I have to dig deeper. I believe there are a few reasons for this.

  • More runners are being caught before they are given the opportunity to enter Boston.
  • Many of the serial cheaters have been caught. Some have been banned, but most have quit cheating to attempt to enter Boston

Still, there is no shortage of cheating, but everything I can see tells me that progress is being made. Races are taking cheating more seriously. Both races and runners are being vigilant, and some would be cheaters, bib swappers and bandits are being deterred.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Great job, as usual. These people are unrepentant and don’t feel remorse until they’re caught or punished. Then they scramble to cover it all up, minimizing what they’ve done for good measure. Shows they haven’t actually changed. Dirty!

  2. I was awarded a place medal for a local race. It wasn’t until I got home and took off my bib, that I realized my son and I had accidently worn each other’s. I notifies the race director immediately and returned the medal. I also notified the chip timing company. I felt horrible about it. Alternately I ran another local race where all the podium winners had cut the course there were many witnesses. I went to the race officials who basically told me who cares. I refuse to run it again and I’ve worked hard to expose the issue. What is right is right. Cheating never is. Thank you

    • I ran an 5 miler in 2016 during which myself and the rest of the lead pack missed a turn because the turn marshal hadn’t shown up yet and we ended up running only 4.5 miles instead. No one figured it out until we looked at our times and my avg. pace was ~4:30 by the time we reported it most people had gone home and whoever had been the first person to run the full distance had left having no idea they won. Thankfully it was just a weekly training race with no prize money or anything.

  3. I ran a 10K several years ago in which one of the award winners had clearly diverted to the 5K course (no shame, it was about 90 out!). But the “winning” time was faster than the 10K world record. I alerted the race directors, they agreed with me, they checked with the runner who said yes, I diverted. And then…it took them forever to agree to send me an award and they never did re-adjust the race results. I won’t run with them again. (They also cut short a half marathon course I’d competed on before this race.)

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