Chicago Marathon – 7 Disqualified, 40 More Likely Cut The Course after 35K Checkpoint

At least 47 runners cut approximately 2 miles off of The Chicago Marathon Course in the final miles. Only 7 have been disqualified so far.

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Almost immediately following the Chicago Marathon, I began to receive emails about runners with suspicious splits. In particular I received reports of suspicious splits between 35k and 40k. Looking at the map, it is easy to see how runners could cut over 2 miles off the course by skipping the right turn on Michigan Avenue, and instead, turn left on Indiana Avenue.

How Many Runners Cut the Course at This Point?

7 Runners that obviously cut the course at Michigan Avenue were disqualified. These runners finished between 2:39:56 and 5:04:58. They logged splits between 3:32 per mile to 5:53 per mile.

*pace times are per split, not cumulative

Unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve identified an additional 40 runners that, in my opinion, very clearly cut this section of the course.

*pace times are per split, not cumulative

In total, at least 47 runners cut this portion of the course. In all likelihood, the # is higher. I only included those runners where I felt there was no doubt.

There are a couple runners that I felt were worth additional analysis

Runners of Note

Bib # 6546 -3:36:43 (BQ Time) – 40k pace 6:40 per mile

Bryan ran in The 2022 Boston Marathon, finishing in a time of 3:43:26. He was a bit over the time he needed to re-qualify for Boston. His Chicago time would qualify him for The 2023 Boston Marathon. He has not been disqualified.

Bib # 23490 – 3:57:55 – 40k pace 4:08 per mile

Ericka did not qualify for Boston, but was clearly claiming her Chicago result was legitimate on social media. She posted a manual Strava entry claiming a 10 minute PR.

Strava post

Additionally, she missed the 30k split during a previous P.R. at The 2021 Mo Cowbell Marathon. Probably not enough by itself to warrant a DQ, but a little more suspicious given her disqualification at Chicago. Her pace didn’t change noticeably on the section with the missed split, but she did improve her placement from `80th place to 103rd place during the section where she missed the split.

After her Mo’ Cowbell race, she posted on Facebook:

Summary

Given the opportunity, there are some runners that will take shortcuts. Some of the runners in Chicago seemed to be running strong races, but threw it away for a PR, or a Boston Qualifying time. Others were struggling, and likely just wanted their race to be over – maybe they did not have ill intentions, but they never should have crossed the finish line once they cut the course short. They certainly should not have taken medals, or proclaimed their victories on social media as some of these runners did.

I will forward this to Chicago, and keep an eye on the results for future disqualifications, particularly when Boston Qualifying times were “earned”.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. I would probably give 25166 the benefit of the doubt. He was at that pace for segments earlier in the race. Had a couple of slower 5ks then back up to pace. I have had crazy splits that were decent at the beginning. worked through leg cramps in the middle and gutted out a decent segment at the end.

    • I appreciate you trying to give benefit of the doubt, but there’s none to give here. The dude was running solid through 25k before the wheels clearly came off, which is quite common in marathons. Once the wheels come off that late in a marathon, there’s no putting them back on. You can clearly see he’s slowing down more and more with each 5k, then miraculously has his best 5k of the race (20 second/mile faster than his next best 5k) right at the controversial section, before falling off a cliff again right after 40k. I’m sorry, you don’t struggle with gradual cramps for ~10k then shake them out for EXACTLY 5k to run faster than you had the entire race (between 35-40k) before falling off a cliff EXACTLY after 40k. No way that happened.

    • No one goes from 9 min pace for most of the early legs, drops down to 12 min pace and then cranks out their fastest 5k split at 8:36 at the end unless they were purposely sand bagging during that middle stretch. When you gutted out your decent segment at the end, was it your fasted 5k split by a wide margin? For most mortals, when they gutted it out at the end, it means that they were able to get back to race pace +- a few seconds, not by 30 seconds per mile for the last 30k. And, definitely not dropping 3 minutes per mile from the 5-8 k leg prior to that.

      • I agree it makes little sense, but 8:20/8:36 is not that fast. For those of us with very little marathon experience (me!), my splits can look a little like this. It’s mental errors of going out slower than necessary and mentally slowing myself down to “conserve energy.” If there were portapotty lines, the 12:xx could be stopped/waiting times. Then they blasted out a downhill finish? I don’t even know this course, but I could have these splits. An 8:xx is just not that fast. I’m just saying the likelihood of cheating is lower for a couple of these. They still probably cheated.

    • Seems possible for 17706 as well. I wonder if there were portapotties or uphill sections during their 2 splits just prior to the 40K? I’m completely unfamiliar with the Chicago course but both of those runners had decent early splits, 2 slow, then back to a very average over-8:00 pace. They don’t look all that suspicious to me. I’m almost exactly their speed (with very little full marathon experience) and I’ve had some wonky splits during my races! I’d love to say I am consistent and negative split through my races, but that is certainly not the case.

  2. I appreciate what you’re doing. I just ran a qualifying time for Boston 2024 by only 24 seconds. Every cheater that we keep out helps! 🤞

  3. I don’t get it. What’s the point? Are people really that desperate for attention? Most of these finishing times are even impressive. Sad.

  4. Omg, chicago was amazing, the temperature was perfect, but it was hard.
    I loved every minute, I figured I could always walk if I got tired. Omg never, ever crossed my mind to skipped 5km off to get a better time. I’m proud to say that I qualify for chicago, at the chicago marathon.

  5. You mentioned that they were “skipping the right turn on Michigan Avenue, and instead, turn left on Indiana Avenue.” From the detail it appears that they just turned left on Michigan Ave at that spot. The course ran on Indiana Avenue for a bit on the return between 35th and 31st streets. Indiana is a street east of Michigan so at 26th they would have had to cut across the return up on Michigan and gone outside of the course completely to get to Indiana Avenue.

  6. That out-n-back segment was the first in at least Chicago marathons. With the grid layout of Chicago streets, it was uncalled for, and a morale-killer to see that nonsense in the twenty-something miles. And now there’s yet another reason it was a bad idea.

  7. Unless I’m missing something, the finish pace calcs for 6641 and 26877 seem to be off. 26877 doesn’t seem like an obvious cutter when corrected. 8:20 average vs 7:05 40k is within the realm of possibilities.

    • It’s the pace for the last split – not total pace. That was the fastest split of the entire race for 26877. They were gradually slowing down, and wasn’t within a minute of that pace for the entire race.

  8. Why don’t you get a real job? How does this affect your life?
    Seems to me that tou’re just a bitter jealous wannabe runner who never could put it together. If they cheat or not is none of your business. It is the race’s job. You are not the police or anybody to accuse others even if they are guilty.
    Sham on you.

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