Serial Course Cutter Finishes First in Age Group at Surf City


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Julie originally finished 1st in her age group at this year’s Surf City Half Marathon with a time of of 1:37:03.

She did not register at any of the intermediate timing mats. Her husband, Steve finished within 1 second of Julie and also missed every timing mat.

After reporting this, Julie was removed from the Half Marathon. But instead of disqualifying her, they moved her to the 5k results with a time of 2 hours and 22 minutes. This time corresponds with the clock time for the 5k. The 5k started before the half marathon. Steve, her husband remains in the half marathon results.

maybe the race was giving her the benefit of the doubt? Julie’s (and Steve’s) previous results at Surf City, and other races show that they deserve no such benefit of the doubt.

Suspected Course Cutting Began in 2015

From 2015 to 2021 Julie and Steve appear to have cut the courses in at least 13 half marathons. Of these 13 races, Julie won her age group in 2 races, and was in the top three in 3 more. Steve ran with Julie for all but 1 of these races, fortunately his times did not have an effect on the top age group finishers.

Of the 13 races where I determined their results were questionable, they appear to have cut the course at the San Francisco Half Marathon and Surf City Half Marathon 5 times each.

In San Francisco from 2015-2017, they missed the 7.5 mile mat each time. In 2018 and 2019, they did not cross a single timing mat.

In Surf City, they would initially miss the middle two mats (10k and 10 mile). Recently it appears they have basically skipped the entire course.

This article will be forwarded to the involved races.


I am not typically going to write about individuals that cut a course one time and finish near the back of the pack. In this instance, however, the behavior has been repeated multiple times over many years. Most importantly the cheating has affected age group placements.

One possible motivation for this cheating, at least initially, is to gain a proof of time for corral placement at Disney races. From 2015-2017, they ran 5 Disney races. It is likely that they used their results from the races mentioned above to improve their corral placement.

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  1. This serial cheating/course cutting, and thus denial of age group awards to legitimate runners, is exactly why Derek’s analysis and reporting is important to the integrity of the sport. I have no sympathy for them, and hope RD’s deny them further entry. (Let the attempts at justification begin… I DARE ya!)

  2. Good to see you posting again.

    I’ve never done a Disney race, but are they so fabulous that you’d want to cheat to get a particular corral placement? I don’t get it.

    I would think that there would be an easy technological solution to people who do things like this. Can’t race data be automatically analyzed so that a missed timing mat and a dramatic increase in pace will get automatically flagged for race directors to see a list of possible cheaters? And can’t there be a national database of race results and flagged results so that it’s easy to see if someone has multiple flagged races? And if the existence of such a database were widely known–and explained to runners as a part of their registration process–wouldn’t it at least cut down on people like Julie and her husband?

    • No, the Disney races are not so awesome. The reason people want to have better placements is so that they have extra hours to wait in line to get photos with characters. Lines in the race can be very long for special characters.

      It has nothing to do with the race itself.

      I’ve run lots of them and never stopped for a character photo.

      I will say I valued higher corral placement when running the Dopey challenge because I needed every minute to keep from being swept.

      But I never had to cheat to get it.

    • RD’s really don’t care and/or don’t want to take the time and effort to vet all runners. Of course, not all races, but the majority of races just care putting on the race, then taking a break, until promoting next year’s race. I also think RD’s think if there are cheaters in their race, it’s a bad reflection of their race. I don’t think most runners would hold a race having a lot of cheater, against that race. If a race had a lot of cheaters, it wouldn’t prevent me from signing up for the race.

      You may say then RD’s should hire Derek. Well, they don’t want to pay somebody to check to make sure all runners ran the course.

  3. Great to see you posting again, Derek. Forget about the haters, you are doing yeoman’s work, good work here. Serial course cutters like Julie and Steve should be ashamed of themselves, taking prizes and awards from people who actually did the work. As someone who put in the sweat and tears to successfully run a marathon and am training for my second, I have zero respect for course cutters and hope you expose them all.

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