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Earlier this week, I wrote about Matt Choi. Matt ran The Houston Marathon with someone else’s bib. To the race’s credit, they disqualified Eric Lee, whose bib Matt ran with. The race also banned Matt and Eric for two years. There has been plenty of debate, and Matt has plenty of supporters. Matt did make a post on his Instagram stories claiming that he obtained the bib from Eric after he forgot to register.
A side effect of running with someone else’s bib is the possibility of falsely claiming a podium spot. This frequently happens, for example, when a younger runner wears an older registrant’s bib. The example that I most often point to is the time is when Kathrine Switzer was cheated out of a 2nd place Age Group Finish.
Female Youth Participants Cheated out of Victories
The bearded runner won the Female 12-15 Age Group for The Houston Half Marathon with a time of 1:22:38. The other runner claimed the top spot in the Female 16-19 division with the same time. Upon being made aware of the situation, they were both removed from the results by race officials.
Cases like these are fairly simple to investigate. I occasionally write on this topic in part, because some people just do not stop to think about the unintended consequences that can happen when you run with another’s bib. In this case a 12 year old girl and a 17 year old female were initially cheated out of their age group wins. Had these two runners taken a moment to think through the consequences, maybe they would have acted differently. Or, maybe they just did not care.
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I was once at a race my wife was running and her friend (female) shows up and says she’s not running and asks if I want to run. Of course I do! I thought I’d take it easy and have fun but I accidently podium-ed. Oops. I immediately ran to the scorer’s table to disqualify myself, but I felt really bad. I think mostly people just want to run and don’t really think of the consequences. Gonna guess it’s usually not intended to be nefarious.
It should be easier to get a bib in the days before a race even if sold out. People get injured, drop out, or don’t want to run for a variety of reasons. If it was possible to purchase an unused bib, these problems happen with less frequency. Marathon organizers could erect barriers for lawful exchange and this is the outcome. What is your proposal to fix this problem?
Been a race Director and organizer since 1980. I despise cheaters and those who think nothing of steeling someone else’s training and “thunder “. Keep up the good work and expose the demons..
It strains credibility to maintain that these two were actually trying to “cheat” and claim any sort of standing. Or are you suggesting that they cheated in order to have their kids place or something along those lines?
Why not allow bib swaps, with the caveat that the number is disqualified from receiving any official result?
the woman in the photo is clearly not in the correct age group either. they ran the race together
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